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    Saturday, December 16, 2017-2:07:27A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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MMA-rianas: A Bigger Payday

What could draw famous fighters away from MMA?

IT seems ironic that some of the biggest mixed martial arts-related news circulating in the mainstream MMA media at the moment really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with MMA itself.

Global MMA press has recently been abuzz with ongoing reports of Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight champion Conor McGregor and President Dana White looking to secure a big bucks boxing match with pound-for-pound boxing legend Floyd Mayweather.

Also, former UFC number one light heavyweight contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson just broke his silence this week on why he shockingly retired from MMA following his second title bid against Daniel Cormier. It turns out Johnson is reportedly going into the medical marijuana business. Prior to this information going public, many were confused as to what exactly could have drawn Johnson away from a sport he is so amazing at, during the prime of his career. Some people speculated that he had gotten some kind of training job with the Los Angeles Rams National Football League team, while others thought he might be going into acting like many other fighters before him.

In McGregor’s case, the pursuit of a mega boxing match is more familiar territory. A former amateur boxer himself, McGregor is no stranger to the sport. Secondly, even the most casual UFC fans are aware of “the Notorious one’s” well publicized flamboyant persona and his desire to make even bigger figures than he is currently earning. It’s no secret that boxing has, for a very long time, paid much more than MMA in the big stakes matches.

So what if that really is it? What if the most popular MMA athletes still not making anywhere near as much asplayers in the NFL, pro boxing and the National Basketball Association is simply forcing fighters to pursue other means of income to make a better living for themselves and their families?

McGregor is reportedly MMA’s highest single-event earning athlete in history, making millions across his last several fights—his most recent purse, at UFC 205, coming in around the $15 million mark. And yet, it is a rarity for a UFC fighter or any MMA fighter in general to make anything close to that amount. Furthermore, McGregor’s purse for that event dwindles in comparison to what a boxer of Mayweather’s caliber typically makes per fight. The latter made an estimated $210 to 220 million for his super match with Manny Pacquiao back in 2015.

Even if MMA not paying them enough is in fact the main reason drawing fighters towards other sources of revenue, is seeking outside their only recourse? Or could things actually get better within the MMA career realm?

This brings us back to the previously discussed announcement of the Professional Fighters League and how, if done properly, it could open the doorways to fighter unions. Athlete unions have done wonders for other major sports leagues, most importantly, granting the athletes better leverage in negotiating higher earning power and subsequently better pay as a result.

Maybe that day when professional MMA starts paying its biggest stars is actually a lot closer than we think. But until then, it seems many of them will continue to opt for other career opportunities to supplement or replace getting paid to get punched in the face. Even if it involves getting paid to be punched in another combat sport that pays more…or something completely different like growing and selling legal cannabis.