Recently disclosed financials shed light on the expense side of being an MMA fighter. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

The financial side of mixed martial arts can be murky waters to wade through relative to other major sports. All U.S.-based MMA promotions are private companies disclosing as little financial information as possible – and fighting to keep things that way – except when UFC President Dana White wants to win an argument.

As independent contractors, fighters are essentially small businesses who, like a neighborhood restaurant, have no guarantees of being successful or even turning a profit. In addition to paying for an agent or manager, fighters generally have to bear their own training expenses, certain travel expenses and even lesser-known expense items such as paying for commission-required pre-fight medical tests.

While those like Bloody Elbow’s John Nash have tried to more thoroughly nail down the revenue side of fighter finances since only a few forms of fighter compensation are regularly (Fight and Performance of the Night awards) or occasionally (show and win money payments) disclosed, on the expense side, two UFC veterans have offered their experiences with the sport.

In 2013, former UFC lightweight John Cholish shared the taxes and expenses he claimed led to his losing more than $6,000 to fight on the UFC on FX 8 prelims in Brazil. Myles Jury, a current UFC featherweight, later estimated the typical expenses of a fighter operating under the UFC’s entry level contract ($10,000 to show, $10,000 to win). Jury estimated the winning 10/10 fighter would take home a $5,500 profit with the losing fighter walking away with $1,500.

A few weeks ago, another data point on fighter expenses became public when UFC welterweight Lyman Good filed a motion to exclude the testimony of an expert witness in his legal tussle with Gaspari Nutrition and Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. Good’s suing the companies for damages arising from his six-month suspension in 2016 following a positive test for the prohibited substance 1-androstenedione, a substance he claims came from an “adulterated” supplement Anavite.

Good’s motion, filed on March 26 in New York federal court, included an expert report of Henry Fuentes, Executive Vice President of Economatrix Research Associates, who reviewed Good’s financial records in order to calculate the economic damages from his USADA suspension.

According to Fuentes, he reviewed “transcripts” of Good’s tax returns for 2009-2017 containing summary information such as total income, net business income, and taxable income. But for one year in particular, 2011, Good made his complete tax return available.

Good was a Bellator MMA fighter in 2011, having lost his welterweight title to “Funky” Ben Askren the previous year. He would fight twice during the year and have two more scheduled bouts cancelled at the last minute due to injury.

According to Fuentes’ report, Good’s gross revenues from self-employment activities (presumably fighting) were $20,769 in 2011. After subtracting expenses, Fuentes found Good’s net business income was only $4,548, meaning the expenses associated with professional MMA accounted for 78 percent of Good’s gross revenues.

Good’s expenses were broken down into nine categories: Professional fees, meals & entertainment, agent fees, equipment, transportation, phone, laundry, tickets and massages. Of those nine categories, four accounted for 70 percent of Good’s gross revenues and 89 percent of his overall expenses.

At 30 percent of gross revenues, agent fees were Good’s largest documented expense of the year. Transportation and professional fees – which presumably include gym and training expenses and possibly licensing and medical fees, among other items – ate into large 15-17 percent chunks. And in a signal of the toll MMA training can take on a fighter’s body, massages accounted for $1,500 and 7 percent of Good’s revenues.

Since Good essentially went through four fight camps but only completed two bouts in the year, some of these expenses could be larger than usual. Yet they still paint a stark picture of the expense side of being an MMA independent contractor.

A bit more about the MMA fight game can be gleaned from the summary information for 2009-2017. According to Fuentes’ report, Good only earned income from two sources during that period: fighting and teaching at Tiger Schulmann’s gym. It appears his fight income is classified as “Business Income.”

Good’s most profitable year as a professional MMA fighter in this period came in 2009, per Fuentes’ report, when he fought three times and won the Bellator welterweight tournament, earning business income of just over $46,000 (apparently net of expenses). His next most profitable year, per Fuentes, came from fighting a single time for the UFC in 2017 with a split decision loss to Elizeu Zaleski. Good reportedly earned $62,000 ($12,000 to show and $50,000 for Fight of the Night), but may have also received some other form of undisclosed discretionary pay. In Fuentes’ report, Good netted just over $35,000 in business income that year.

During three years of the nine-year period, Good’s business income fell between $3,000-$7,000. And for three more years, Fuentes’ report does not show any business income.

The report certainly supports the notion that the life of a professional MMA fighter can be a monetary grind, especially for those who aren’t regular headliners in promotions such as the UFC or Bellator or otherwise big names in the sport. And even when paydays may seem large for those who want to casually label them as “one night’s work,” expenses can eat into a large chuck – a 78 percent chunk for Good in 2011 – before even paying taxes. And had Good fought outside of the U.S., international taxes would have been an added line item.

Good is currently attempting to have Fuentes’s testimony excluded from the case, not because of any alleged calculation errors, but by claiming Fuentes’ “conclusory” statements about Good’s economic losses due to his suspension are “unreliable.”



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here