This past weekend the UFC saw a new face in the welterweight division. Making his debut in the promotion, Brian Melancon stopped Seth Baczynski at the 4:59 mark and in dramatic fashion.
On the ground and up against the fence, Melancon hit “The Polish Experiment” with a nasty left-hook and Baczynski was all but done. A few more shots for good measure to demonstrate the point and referee Yves Lavigne stepped in to affirm a stoppage.
As beautiful as it was or how easy it would be to write about how the division keeps getting better or even how the 31 year old Melancon reminds me of Johnny Hendricks, but with a kicking game, it was his comments post fight that really caught my attention.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani of the “MMA Hour”, Melancon made note of the difficult decision he had to make in accepting the fight and that indeed, it took him a couple of weeks to do it, but in the end he “couldn’t pass it up.”
Helwani, who seem surprised by the statement, retorted that “you actually had to think about it, whether or not you wanted to do this?”
“People who are fighters know it’s a huge sacrifice when you have to do that, especially with a new wife, new family, a career. I’d just gotten a promotion, my career was, could have been set. So, that’s what took a little bit of time.”
For his efforts, giving up his career and taking a chance, Melancon was paid 16K (8K show / 8K win). To me and particularly for him at age 31 and in the UFC middleweight division, that’s a great deal of risk and for very little reward.
In listening to his words and reading the payout(s), one really has to wonder how Ariel could have been so surprised that it took Melancon a couple of weeks to elect to take the fight.
I know this is beating a dead horse, but I can’t help but be appalled at fighter pay in the UFC and how often when reading the numbers, that they look like the same small payouts from much lesser promotions.
I know the reality is that if you win you get paid more, but the sadder reality is there are only 9 titles to be held and if you don’t own one or aren’t truly in contention, then it becomes a financial struggle to pursue the dream.
Perhaps more to the point is that the high paid crew at the very top is supported and made viable by those below them in rank, for if there were only the 9 champions and a few contenders in the UFC no one would watch.
So the question to you is this, would you give up a career (not a job) to pursue this dream and is the dream out of reach for fighters who have careers? Further, is the price fighters pay (as a whole) at the entry and mid-level ranges (regardless of careers or jobs) too high for the too little pay that the UFC has to offer?