Much has been said about the recent Zuffa ban on firearm, knife, and ammo sponsors from all UFC events since it was announced just a few days ago. Many believe that the ban is a result of the UFC’s desire to smooth out some edges in light of a major network deal, which makes sense, although a FOX representative has come out saying that the rule only applies to UFC broadcasts on their network.
And while it is a fair assessment that the UFC would want to avoid as much controversy as possible, many of us cynics are looking at the sponsor ban as the first loose thread that will eventually unwind the metaphorical Zuffa sweater. Simply put, when a network begins to control the content of the sport it is broadcasting, it’s only a matter of time before fights are being set up and determined by evil corporate executives with dollar signs and ratings numbers in their eyes. You know, like Rollerball predicted all those years ago.
Luckily, we have former UFC middleweight title contender Nate Quarry here to weigh in on the issue, and as he is no longer under a Zuffa contract, it’s nice to get a perspective on the issue from a fighter who isn’t living in fear of DW’s wrath. Before you all go off the handle, that was a joke, Potato Nation. Anyway, Quarry had some interesting things to say in regards to the ban, stating the following on The UG:
An MMA fighter has an agent that he pays, a team he fights for that he trains at, that he pays, if he’s good and has the money he has a muay thai coach, a Jits coach, a strength and conditioning coach, a diet coach and someone to help him cut weight. And if he just made it to the big shows he MAY make 30k for the year. Minus 20% for management and training at least then a third for taxes and you’re sitting at about 16k to live on for the entire year.
Sponsors have always been a huge source of income for fighters. I can’t tell you how many times a sponsor showed up at just the right time and gave me food money. Literally.
When I fought Pete Sell the second time I was sponsored by Toyo tires. For two fights I had their logo on my shorts. For what? A set of tires. That would be about $800. $400 for two fights on primetime that have been shown over and over. Why did I do it? Because I was driving around on my spare and one other tire was filled with fix a flat. The belts were showing on the other tires.
You want to see the best a fighter can be? Buy his gear. Support the brands that sponsor him and send the companies emails letting them know you’re buying their protein because they’re sponsoring someone.
What’s that you say? If you don’t like it then quit? I do like it. In fact, I love it. That’s why I lived in my buddies basement 2 nights a week to save on gas money. And I rode with other friends to practice to save on gas money. And I packed a lunch to practice. And I only wore clothes sponsors and other more successful fighters would give me. And I’d do it all over again.
If you got into fighting to be rich, you chose the wrong sport. Do it for the love and if you get rich that’s a nice bonus. But having those sponsors can sure make the ride easier.
Now just hold on a second, Mr. Quarry. You’re saying that fighters actually use the UG for purposes other than calling out their naysayers? Blasphemy.
On a serious note, Quarry makes several excellent points in this post, the first being that if you got into the mixed martial arts game for the money, then you’re in the wrong business. Because being an MMA fighter is kind of like being in a heavy metal band; no matter how successful you are, you’re never going to make as much money as Justin Bieber. But then again, you didn’t become a fighter, or the guitarist for Cannibal Corpse for that matter, under the guise that you would be accepted by mainstream audiences; you did it out of love for the game, so to speak. You did it because normally, you’d do it for free, and getting paid is just icing on the cake.
When one decides to make the leap into fighting as a profession however, as Quarry explains, the sponsorship money (as paltry as it may be), could mean the difference between eating or not on a given night. But like he says, a fighter’s life is all about sacrifice, and if you’re not willing to pay your dues to get that bread, then perhaps you should look into another line of work. And plus, you’ve got to imagine that there are plenty of sponsors willing to fill the gap left behind by weapons and ammo dealers knowing that their brand will now be advertised on network television.
Does this ban come across as another step in the, for lack of a better term, “wussification” of America? Perhaps (I say yes), but for now it seems there is little that can be done to protest, so we might as well look to the positive, whatever that may be.