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WEC 35 Salaries: How the Other Half Lives

(Hiromitsu Miura and Carlos Condit. Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly.)

The Nevada State Athletic Commission has released the fighter salary figures for Sunday’s WEC show. Yeah, they’re lower than what you might see in UFC, but the greatest disparity lies in the fight bonuses. The WEC handed out $7,500 bumps for Knockout (Brock Larson), Submission (Brian Bowles), and Fight of the Night (both Condit/Miura and Varner/Hicks) — compared to the $60,000 bonuses now up for grabs in the UFC. The numbers are below; props to MMA Junkie and MMA Weekly.

Carlos Condit: $51,500 (includes $22,000 win bonus, $7,500 Fight of the Night bonus)
Jamie Varner: $37,500 (includes $15,000 win bonus, $7,500 Fight of the Night bonus)
Brock Larson: $37,500 (includes $15,000 win bonus, $7,500 Knockout of the Night bonus)
Marcus Hicks: $23,500 (includes $7,500 Fight of the Night bonus)
Brian Bowles: $15,500 (includes $4,000 win bonus, $7,500 Submission of the Night bonus)
Hiromitsu Miura: $12,500 (includes $7,500 Fight of the Night bonus)
Blas Avena: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
Shane Roller: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
Brian Stann: $11,000
Steve Cantwell: $10,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus)
Josh Grispi: $8,000 (includes $4,000 win bonus)
Carlo Prater: $7,000
Mike Budnik: $6,000 (includes $3,000 win bonus)
Scott Jorgensen: $6,000 (includes $3,000 win bonus)
Damacio Page: $6,000
Micah Miller: $5,000
Kenji Osawa: $5,000
Todd Moore: $4,000
Dave Terrel: $3,000
Greg McIntyre: $2,000
Total: $275,000

Underpaid: Pretty much everyone. Particularly, everyone under Steve Cantwell on the list, and Hiromitsu Miura, who went into the main event title fight with just a $5,000 base salary — and left with a long medical suspension. To put this in perspective, Matt Lindland out-earned WEC 35′s entire payroll for fighting at Affliction: Banned.

Overpaid: Nobody. Though, relative to the other fighters you might say Marcus Hicks was overpaid. For some reason, his $16,000 base salary was the night’s second-highest, after Carlos Condit.

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Krazy Kracker- August 4, 2008 at 11:38 pm
Wow, the one who jumps out at me is Brian Stann. LHW champ/posterboy of the WEC is barely making five figures? With his marketability I figured they would try to bribe him in to staying around. Now all he needs to do is work his cardio and find a different strike other than overhand right and the other organizations will make the proverbial *YOINK*

PS: How were there two 'fights of the night'?
Jimmy Hoffa- August 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm
This is simply a reflection of the money the event earned. I think the WEC is fantastic, and I think that their fighters and fights are amazing. But the truth is they have a relatively small cable TV audience, and a fairly small paid attendance figure.

The UFC regularly bases the bonuses on the revenue expected from the show. If you are on a blockbuster card in Montreal that breaks attendance records, for instance, the bonuses were at a high of $75,000. But if you are on an UFC Fight Night on Spike, or on a money-losing sport-expanding venture over in England, the UFC pays more conservative bonuses in the $15,000 - $35,000 range.

It is pretty simple, and is a much more mature way to run a business. It is really easy to criticize and say, well, these are professional fighters, and they should be making more money. Well, if Sunday's WEC show had been a PPV, would you buy it at $40 a pop to support those fighters' salaries? Did you fly to Vegas and buy a $1000 ringside seat? Probably not, and not many others did, so they didn't get paid very much.

And you can't rightly compare it to Affliction's payroll, because they were completely irresponsible with their money. Does anyone think Lindland was actually worth that much... that Lindland actually added that many viewers or spectators? After adding the *actual* fighter payroll (since Fedor's pay was obviously MUCH higher than the disclosed number), Affliction probably lost several million dollars, and is not running a viable business model.

Zuffa probably still loses money on the WEC after the production costs and fighter payrolls are added in, but they still manage to pay the fighters something and are trying to build some of them into stars so that they can earn real money. Forcing Zuffa to pay beyond what is feasible because we "feel" they should make more is not good, because it would probably make the WEC too big of a money pit, and Zuffa would just abondon it. Then, instead of making $10,000 and a $7500 bonus, the fighters would make nothing, and have no job.

This sport is still developing, and pay will increase with popularity. But we shouldn't cut that growth off at the knees simply because based on Jamie Varner's fighting skills we feel he should be rolling around in a Ferrari ASAP!
Mike- August 4, 2008 at 3:12 pm
Of course, UFC events tend to have gates that run anywhere from $2-5M and hundreds of thousands of pay per view buys; WEC in this case was in front of about 1,000 people at the Hard Rock. I wasn't an economics major but that just might have something to do with it.
BOLO!- August 4, 2008 at 1:35 pm
Brian Bowles base pay is 4,000, that is extremely undepaid! He should be making 10-15 base in my opinion! Also, pick up my mag FIGHT! at all major newstand, or better yet subscribe!! It is the best MMA Mag in the biz!