Every MMA fan knows that fighter pay is one of the biggest hot button issues in combat sports. Even though sanctioned MMA is relatively young when compared to other leagues and their sport, it is an issue that has taken the sports world by storm.
We have seen specifically the UFC thrust into the spotlight as they are the biggest and richest MMA company today, not to mention their value has gone up tremendously ever since the WME buyout as well as their acceptance in the mainstream with ESPN and other major outlets wanting a piece of the pie they rejected for so long.
This has led to several fighters speaking up about their compensation only to be reminded they are a drop of water in the ocean, while many fighters continue to be paid like amateurs while several of the brass continue to command ridiculous salaries.
In business, you don’t always get paid for working harder, if that was the case countless fighters would be millionaires right now. Yet the thing they seem to have gotten wrong is their approach. Many of these unhappy fighters are facing top talent and winning brutal fights after fights only to be passed over for titles, no marketing or lack thereof (Leon Edwards), creating fake personas (Colby) and worst of all getting into a public dispute with the UFC or Dana White specifically (Tito, Francis, Couture, Fitch, Etc)
This is where young 27-year-old Paddy “the baddy” Pimblett has gotten it right. The British fighter has only had 2 fights in the UFC and won both, but the hype around him and the talk from others would have you believe this was a UFC vet with 10 fights. Paddy most recently competed at UFC London where he scored another thrilling submission win, but to anyone paying attention to the crowd, you could see who the fans were there for.
The Liverpool native is 18-3 in his career and is as wild as they come in and out of the cage, but when it comes to business and his career trajectory he has a cool calm persona that in my opinion is one of a kind. The fact that every time Paddy is asked about money or facing the top 15 at 155, he brushes it off as if those things don’t matter, while adding that he’s not being paid enough to fight the ranked fighters.
Brilliant. The UFC wants more from him? They should pay up, after all, they created that model. Simple as that. Paddy has also done something that not many before him have done and that is to break through the American market after his first fight. For those that may not know Paddy has made several appearances on some of the biggest platforms for fighters, multiple appearances on The Pat McAfee Show, Food truck diaries with Brendan Schaub, Pardon my Take and others. ESPN and even Barstool sports have pushed Paddy’s name with some of the best free marketing a fighter could ask for.
The only other fighter that has gotten that kind of attention without a marquee fight is perhaps Sean O’Malley, but he doesn’t have 2 continents that love him like Paddy. So much like Conor took over the world with the help of the Irish, Paddy has the chance to do the same but at a faster rate.
Don’t think for a second that Dana White and the UFC don’t see his potential and ability to bring in that “red panty night” kind of money, but as long as they pay him 12K to show and 12K to win I doubt Paddy will be headlining a PPV anytime soon.
For those that think Paddy is being greedy, selfish or scared to lose, realize how this impacts MMA as a whole and not just one fighter’s career. We have seen many fighters complain about money in the lead up to scoring a big contract only to go radio silent after seeing the commas in their checks, but who could blame them, they are finally reaping the fruits of their labor after all and MMA is not a team sport so you always have to look out for your best interest.
But this has ultimately led to a select few being paid. Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe a fighter with 10 career fights and 1 win in the Contender Series or someone with a year layoff deserves Conor money, but fair is fair and what we see today is not that. So while Paddy may not be a champion or even a ranked fighter, he is a star and the more the stars and champions speak up for the up and comers the more the sport will benefit from it.