“We Need Leverage” Urijah Faber Talks Fighter Pay and MMA Unions

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Former WEC World Champion Urijah Faber recently discussed the ongoing issues of fighter pay and MMA unions. The “The California Kid” sat down with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell to offer the wisdom he’s earned through experience. The US-born athlete was a major draw in the UFC and WEC, additionally, he has managed fighters such as Josh Emmet, Chad Mendes, and TJ Dillashaw. Recently, he also added UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo as one of his managed fighters.

Urijah Faber Talks Fighter Pay

“The pay has gone up tremendously since back in the day, as you know,” Faber said, “We need leverage. I think with more legitimate shows coming up, more options. Even the fact that Khabib’s got his Eagle promotion, he pays guys decent. And we’ve got the PFL parterned with the UFC, it seems like, on the ESPN side … You’ve got ONE FC, you’ve got Bellator.” The 43-year-old former UFC contender is saying that with more options available to fighters, they should be able to negotiate for more pay due to more competition.

“But I think more than that it’s got to be intelligence on the fighters’ side,” Faber continues, “Because you could be making a little bit of money and not go over your skeez on how you’re spending your money. When you have to fight because you’re broke, that’s when you’re f*cked. So when we get fighters to understand how not to be broke then we can really have the leverage on their side. Because then they don’t have to fight as much.” “The California Kid” explains that with the fighter he manages, he teaches them how to have businesses outside of MMA and turn their MMA paydays into wise investment options. However, a fighter who has no money has absolutely no leverage, he explains.

Deiveson Figueiredo

UFC Champion Deiveson Figueiredo recently changed his management to Faber’s team. In an interview, the reigning UFC Champion said his pay was embarrassing. The Brazilian-born champion said, “Guys fighting for the belt get paid around $500,000, and defending [champions] get around $600,000, and my numbers would never go over $200,000. This last fight, I got paid [$100,000 to show and $100,000 to win] or [$100,000 to show, $50,000 to win], I don’t know. Totally embarrassing. I know it’s low. It was on desperate to get the title fight. I know it’s a good purse for someone challenging for the belt.”

“People knowing their worth,” Faber said in regards to managing the UFC Champion, “For [Figueiredo] for example, he’s out in the jungle in Brazil, the people surrounding him, or helping him were probably not thinking big enough. That sounds like a lot of money to them, whatever he was getting. Oh my gosh, it’s more money than he’s ever seen. But in the big scheme of things, could he live in LA for six months with that money?” The 43-year-old explained that it’s possible Figueiredo and his team never knew his worth because they lacked experience working with MMA organizations and the UFC.

MMA Unions and the Muhammad Ali Act

“I’ve thought about this a lot … I do like it on the entertainment side, the unions help out a lot,” Faber continued while discussing the prospect of whether an MMA union would be helpful to the fighters, “I would think yeah that would be good if it was done wisely,” But ultimately it still comes down to money and leverage. “You need billionaires behind the strong leader because money wins out in these confrontations … Who has more money and more passion, that’s who’s winning right now.”

“On the Muhammad Ali Act, that would be a huge key, but it only becomes a big key once the UFC has done their job,” The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act has existed in boxing since the year 2000, “If we can get the Muhammad Ali Act that would be the best thing. Those that don’t know, Muhammad Ali Act basically puts every matchup for bid.” Faber explains that the Muhammad Ali Act would put all fights up for bid to all promoters. For example, Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier II would have gone up for bid, therefore Strikeforce, the UFC, and others could have sent offers to the participating fighters. It also restricts contract lengths.

“In turn,” Faber continues, “To get the fighters to come with them they would have to give more to the fighters and less to them …  It would change the dynamic.”

See the full interview below:

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Timothy Wheaton is a combat sports writer who covers MMA, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai. He has been an avid follower of these sports since 2005. Tim is a host alongside Frazer Krohn on the MMA Sucka Podcast.

With MMA Sucka, Tim has contributed interviews, articles, and podcasts. He has also represented MMA Sucka in person at live Bellator and GLORY Kickboxing events.

Tim also works with a host of other media sites such as Calf Kick Sports, Sportskeeda MMA, Low Kick MMA, Vecht Sport Info, Fighters First, and Beyond Kickboxing. Tim is is the authority on kickboxing and MMA journalist who has covered K-1, PRIDE FC, UFC, GLORY Kickboxing, Bellator, ONE Championship, and plenty more.

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