UFC star Myles Jury gives eye-opening breakdown of fighters' expenses
The fight game is an expensive business.
There is a common misconception that being a mixed martial artist fighting for the world's biggest promotion means you're rich. Well, that is not necessarily the case.
Although it may seem like a fighter has made it when they sign for the UFC, in reality, the work has only really started.
UFC featherweight rising star Myles Jury broke down the financial toll of being a UFC fighter in the context of a relatively new fighter to the promotion on his official website. After taking a look at Jury's breakdown, you'll understand just how important Performance bonuses are to fighters who have yet to establish themselves as elite.
Jury explains that fighter gym fees are paid on a per fight basis for a training camp rather than monthly. This expense covers training with the team, use of the facility and the guidance of the coaches and is between 5-10% of your fight purse.
A fighter competing for 10k/10k (starting show/win pay for a new UFC fighter) and paying their gym 10%, would pay $2,000 with a win, or $1,000 with a loss.
Managers control brokering and negotiations with each competition to get things rolling. Their duties cover contracts, expenses, sponsors, career guidance, liaison with the fight organization, scheduling, media, medicals and assisting with the wants and needs of the fighter. Jury claims the industry standard management fee is 20% of the fighter’s purse. With the 10k/10k example, the management fee would be $4,000 with a win, or $2,000 with a loss.
MMA fighters are considered sub-contractors, which means that their taxes aren't deducted automatically before they receive their pay cheque and a tax return each year. Fighters receive their fight purse without the full tax deductions and pay their taxes at the end of each year. Jury says that most MMA fighters put money aside after each fight to pay the government.
He reckons 30% of a fight purse is a good rule of thumb to put aside after each fight, which amounts to $6,000 with a win, or $3,000 with a loss (using 10k/10k example).
MMA fighters, not the UFC are responsible to pay for their own medicals to be licensed by the governing commission each competition. This includes covering the cost of blood work (HIV, hepatitis b/c), physical, MRI/MRA, eye exam, and sometimes there’s more. Jury admits that this expense varies depending on the location of the fight but it has usually cost him around $500-$1,000.
The gym fee covers your main coaching, but there’s expenses incurred for coaching at another location and/or private coaching. Each coach is different and charge anywhere from $50$-$150 an hour for private training.
Coach's flights to city of fight, training partner’s flights into camp, sports massages, nutritionist, supplements, etc. These all add up to around $1,000-$2,000 for Jury per camp.
So, if a fighter wins a 10k/10k purse, the following expenses would be deducted from their $20,000 prize money.
- $2,000 (gym / team)
- $4,000 (management)
- $6,000 (taxes)
- $500 (medicals)
- $1,000 (coaching)
- $1,000 (Misc.)
Total Expenses: $14,500
$20,000 – $14,500 = $5,500 is the fighters profit, excluding Reebok sponsorship money and bonuses.