Cody Garbrandt opens up about fighter pay and being forced to fight

Cody Garbrandt opens up about fighter pay and being forced to fight

Cody Garbrandt says pulling out of UFC 217 was a fiscal impossibility.

Cody Garbrandt had to pull out of UFC 213 with a serious back injury. He was supposed to defend his title against rival TJ Dillashaw. That fight was pushed back four months, and Garbrandt again found himself with a nagging back injury. This time he couldn’t push the fight off, he needed the money. During the media scrum for UFC 227 this week he opened up about it.

“What can I do? I pulled out of the fight (UFC 213),  I had a wife that was pregnant. I fought Dominick Cruz for $200,000 a year before that. I’m trying to buy a house, trying to get insurance, all the things you’re thinking you made it, you’re a world champion and you’ve got all this f*cking money but we’re not, man. I understand you have to build your way up to it and it’s good, but, I couldn’t pull out. 

He continued with his injury.

“Two weeks before the fight, I had to go to Vegas and get eight epidurals shot in my back so I could heal up and go to the fight week in New York. I don’t regret anything. I’m blessed, being able to be here now. I’m healthy and that’s the thing, I’m so excited to be here and speak to you guys, I’m excited to be getting into the Octagon.”

It’s a murky problem that has been brought up for years by the talent that allows the UFC to earn millions and millions of dollars. The ownership gets ridiculously wealthy and the talent gets ridiculously underpaid. The percentage of money the UFC makes, compared to what they pay the fighters is horrendous. In other professional sports, there are unions that protect the player’s rights. They negotiate for fair contracts and piece of the pie that’s fitting with what’s collected. The UFC has none of that, and as a result, they are making money hand over fist while a select few fighters are earning what typical professional athletes are earning.

Average Salaries in other professional sports are as follows.

NFL: 2.1 Million | NBA: 6.2 Million | MLB: 4.4 Million |NHL: 2.9 Million | MLS: 308,000

According to a report by The Sports Daily, in 2017 the average UFC fighter salary was $132,000.  Only six fighters pulled down in excess of one million dollars. So far in 2018, 7 of the 10 highest paid UFC athletes fought their last fight in the heavyweight division. It seems it pays to be a big guy in the UFC. In fact, Alistair Overeem has made in excess of 3 million dollars in the last 18 months.

Cody went into more detail on the life of an MMA fighter. He recognizes a change in the system is required.

“You have to live life and now I have to take care of my family. That’s why you see all these fighters who want these money fights. You can’t blame them,” Garbrandt said. “They go in there and literally take years off our life. For what, $40,000? $50,000, some of these fighters are coming in 10 and 10 so, what, if they get their ass beat and make what, $10,000?”

“It’s crazy, man. You’ve got NHL players and MLB players making millions and millions and millions and we’re the fastest growing sport in the world. Something’s gotta change.”

Hey, it’s not easy to make a living the in the fight game. The good news though is if you keep quiet about it and stay on Dana’s good side, you might get invited to his son’s next million dollar birthday bash.