Nate Quarry: The UFC Looks At Fighters As Products To Use And Discard

Posted on February 17, 2014, 10:04 PM by Brian Cox
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Former UFC veteran, Nate Quarry, has taken to an online forum and expressed his (negative) opinions on fighter income within the UFC. Specifically, Quarry has taken the promotion to task over the issue of fighter sponsorships.

In what might be the harshest criticism to date that fans have heard from a fighter regarding income, Quarry describes a world that is nearly Machiavellian in its treatment of fighters and one that apparently, has no regard or concern for the fighters financial wellbeing. 

Quarry’s remarks fall fast and hard on the heels of Chris Leben’s Twitter outburst from a day ago, when the (recently) retired Leben tweeted that his career with the UFC had left him “broken, with nothing” and that he would have been better off if he’d spent the last ten years of his life driving a truck.

For the record, Leben subsequently recanted the statement, tweeting that he’d just lost his dog (the deduction be that he was in an emotional state) and that fans should “disregard” his negative tweet referencing the UFC. 

However, Quarry’s Mixedmatialarts.com post appears to indicate that Leben’s initial tweet was more a reflection of the truth, then not.

Quarry paints a picture of fighters being corralled at every financial turn and always to the benefit of the UFC and never to that of the fighters. In terms of the sponsorship issue, Quarry ostensibly states that the problem has been created by the promotion, itself.

As Quarry tells it, fighters were, at first, allowed to seek out their own sponsors and without any interference from the promotion. However, that all changed and to the point, that a fighter’s sponsor was required to pay the UFC 100K for the privilege of sponsoring the fighter, and that was before the sponsor pays / paid the fighter anything. As such, the process has pushed out the small sponsors, leaving only the big ones, and they’re simply not interested in dealingwith non-marquee fighters. Beyond that, the large sponsors don't have the budgets to contend with the lesser known fighters. 

Perhaps the most revelatory part of Quarry’s remarks is that the UFC would deny a fighter the right to wear his “own shirt.” Yet, if a fighter wished to purchase the right to wear their own brand, as licensed from the promotion, then that was doable, but at a rate. As Quarry pointed out, a UFC lawyer once said to him, "Sure, give me $50,000 and we can talk about it." To some, that might seem like the promotion not only denying a fighter an opportunity to make money, but more importantly looking to profit of them as they do so; an Octagon tax if you will.

In short, Quarry describes a business that is making a lot of money, but one that shares little of it with the fighters. More to the point, Quarry stated that the promotion looks at the fighters as nothing more than “product to use and discard” and that the ‘bottom-line’ is everything to the brand.

That said, the UFC is a business and Quarry’s remarks are echoed from four years removal from the brand and more particularly, ‘The Rock’ was never an incredibly successful or marketable fighter. And at the end of the day it’s wins and successes in the UFC that put the big paydays on a fighter’s table.

However and that said, Quarry’s comments about squeezing fighters too much and other promotions beginning to look good to them as a result of it, may well prove to be prophetic. In an effort to maximize profits the promotion cuts too close to the bone, they could easily begin to bleed legitimate talent to Bellator and the WSOF; case in point, Gilbert Melendez.  

Quarry’s remarks, in full, are as follows:

“When I signed with the UFC this is what I was told

We can't pay you much but you can have any sponsors you want.

Then: We need to approve your sponsors.

Then: You can't have any conflicting sponsors.

Then: You can't thank your sponsors after fights.

Then: We are not approving any sponsors that we don't like their product.

Then: Your sponsors have to pay us a fee of $50,000 for the pleasure to sponsor you.

Then: Your sponsors have to pay us a fee of $100,000 for the pleasure to sponsor you.

If a sponsor has a budget of 10k to sponsor a fighter, they are then out. If there are 5 shorts companies in the UFC you can only go to them for a sponsorship. If they have spent their budget or don't want to support an up and coming fighter they give you shorts instead of money. If you're fighting for $6,000 to show and fighting 3 times a year, even $500 makes a big difference. When there is no competition they don't have to pay you. I lost And1 as a sponsor when the UFC enacted the tax.

At the UFC summit a fighter asked if he could wear his own shirt. Dana laughed and said, "Uh... we can talk about it." I turned around and asked the UFC lawyer if I could wear my OWN shirt and he said, "Sure, give me $50,000 and we can talk about it."

People have no clue from the outside what it's like to fight for the UFC. After spending 10-15 years chasing your dream only to see that the company it's been your dream to fight for cares nothing about the fighters and only cares about the bottom line.

When I was fighting for the UFC we got X-Mas presents like an iPod. A very bottom of the line iPod but it was still cool. Now the guys get a gift certificate to the UFC store and can use it ONE day. Any money they don't spend on that day is forfeited.

A fighter gets to use the gym at the hotel he's fighting at for free. The cornermen and everyone with him have to pay. So I'm helping Leben make weight the day of weigh ins and have to pay to go sit in the sauna with him. The UFC couldn't say, "The fighter gets 3 people to go into the gym with him the week of the fight."

That's just nickel and dime stuff.

With every little bit they try to squeeze out of the fighters, the more the other organizations will look more attractive.

I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to fight for the UFC and everything I have besides my daughter has come from fighting. But let's not fool ourselves. It's not a charity. It's a business. And they are doing everything they can to make money. The fighters are just a product to use and discard. Every up and coming fighter is the best ever. Every ex-fighter who then expresses an opinion is a coward, loser, etc, etc.

I fought for the world title for $10,000. Not a penny more. No bonus. No cut of the PPV. The gate alone was 3.5 million dollars. The third highest gate in UFC history at the time. And they must have loved the fight cuz they show the final punch at the start of EVERY UFC PPV. :-)

And that's fine. Because it's a business. But sooner or later the allure of fighting in the UFC will not be as attractive as fighting for an organization that takes care of you, appreciates you, will let you have sponsors to help make up the income gap, doesn't trash you when you think for yourself, and on and on. Just like every business you work for. It's funny to me to hear people cheer for Dana when he says things that if he was your boss and he said them about you, you would be looking for another job. But when you're signed to a contract, you can't go anywhere. No matter how much you want to.

When I retired I received a form letter, EMAILED to me that said, "Should you choose to fight again you are still under contract with the UFC." I didn't even get a hard copy with a real signature that I could frame.

As I said, I love what the UFC has done for me and my family. And specifically what Dana has done for me.

But I also know it's a business. And that's the best piece of advice I can give to wanna be fighters. Fight for the love of the game. But you better treat it like a business. Because the promoter handing you a contract sure will.”


Comments

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  • enjoylife321
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    I have no problem with Dana controlling the sponsorships when competing in his house but he needs to compensate these guys above and beyond 10k or whatever they are fighting for if he plans on controlling that also....Even some of our favourite fighters who make up these highlight reels are earning a pittance...If the UFC knows a fighter is as exciting as hell they will typically sign them on the lowest pay scale for as many fights as possible...by the time they lose a fight or two they screw them again in contract negotiations....There should be a standardised pay scale with everyone on a main card getting a percentage of PPV......A guy like nate diaz is NBA level in UFC and look what he gets paid...This dictatorship is a joke...

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    Certainly one thing that might be expected, is that if the brand keeps signing a guy like Diaz and someone that keeps winning, certainly often enough and exciting enough for the promotion to keep signing them, then there should be some pegged salary that keeps going up and maintains an increasing base salary for the fighter.

    Nate making 15K show on his 19th fight is pathetic. To be honest, it's laughable.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • highkick12
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    Sounds like every other corporation...

    UFC is still really new in terms of other sports people like to compare them to with salaries. Look how little super stars in the NHL were getting paid a couple decades ago. UFC only started making a profit in like 2005 or something.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    So if they are all corrupt we should just let them be? It is a joke that Dana makes 10 mil plus a year and some fighters get $10k. Thats just Danas salary by the way. Dana did not just magically be the ONE that could bring back MMA, he knew people with money, he didn't work his way there from scratch. He depended on people with money and so do these fighters.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • TheXperience
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    Might be so, but investors or not he is STILL responsible for what the UFC and MMA in general is today. It's his VISION, that kickstarted this whole movement. As i stated many times before on this site, the UFC is a business, not a charity. They have a performance based business model that works and everyone that joins the movement agrees with these terms. Dana might not be getting in the octagon and put everything on the line like the fighters do, but that's just life! The "architect" is always the one with the big fat check. The construction workers who do the actual heavy labor get paid peanuts! Because without the "plan", there would be nothing to "build". If you want the big check, BECOME AN ARCHITECT!

    When it comes to the sponsor money and how things changed. I see why, 10 years ago the UFC was not anywhere near what it is today. They are now truly the Big Show, which is very beneficial for sponsors. The kind of exposure their brand gets now with 100's of millions more people watching the sport all over the world is what they're paying for. The more exposure, the more you pay. It's a simple and FAIR development that comes with growth. If you market your product on a local TV network you'll pay far less than if you would on one of the big networks. UFC went from small show to a big show, so they are now asking big show money. A lot of time, effort and MONEY, went into becoming the big show. This is the investment the UFC made, so now they are cashing in on that investment. It's only fair. You have to look at the big picture. There's more to it than just "numbers".

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    TE, all that you say is true.

    However, on the point of DW and how the sport wouldn't be where it is today, without him, this is also true, but there's another point to be made on that subject.

    Yes, he's been instrumental in developing the sport, but this is a 'what have you done for me lately world' as predicated on a 'you're only as good as your last win' philosophy. Indeed White himself has used the phrases.

    To the point, yes, White has been instrumental in building the business to where it is today, but that work is done, now. As the brand and the sport are firmly fixed in the market, the heavy lifting is now done.

    My point here is this, the argument that DW built the business and all of that is, to me, a tired cliche. It's done, he's been given credit, and that's it. Fans are not beholding to him. I certainly don't feel that way. I appreciate all that he's done, but I don't see him as some MMA guru pointing the way forward for all of us. He opened the door and now that the door is open, the bulk of the work is done.

    Sorry, but White does this to fighters all the time; you're only as good as your last fight. I've heard him say it many times. Okay, well the same philosophy can be applied to DW. Now that the brand is where it is, all that's left is expansions and squeezing more juice from the orange.

    As to the sport, DW is not the sport and he didn't create it. He's the P.T. Barnum of MMA to be sure, but there are other promotions out there and if the UFC shriveled up and died, which it won't, we'd still have other promotions and the fighters would just gravitate to the Bellator, the WSOF or some new UFC.

    White is to be respected for all that he's done, but let's keep it in perspective. His heavy lifting days are over and as White himself doesn't sit around and praise fighters for previous victories, but harangues them the moment he's not happy with a fighter's performance or the outcome of a match, so too, should DW be held to the same standard. In a nutshell and by his own criteria, what White has done over the years is irrelevant.

    As White disrespected GSP after his Hendricks win, not giving a damn about what Rush has accomplished in the ring or the amount of money he's put in the UFC's pockets, I see no reason to sit around and applaud White for the work that he's done.

    White has been paid and credited for it, no one asked him to do it, no one asked him to sign a contract or put the effort in etc. ...and all the other arguments that get thrown at the fighters, when discussing them. Simply put, if what fighters have done in the past doesn't matter, then by extension what White and the Fertittas' have done in the past doesn't matter, either. Fair is fair.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • TheXperience
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    @Brian the big difference is... if you lay out the foundation and manage the growth of your creation, you're entitled to eat the fruits of labor. You can come up with an amazing idea now, start a company. Hire some people to run it. Pay them peanuts and make Millions. Nothing wrong with that, it's life! Like i said, if you want the big check, become the architect. What DW and the Fertittas have done in the past does matter, cause they build the brand and they own it. If the UFC would be gone tomorrow. Do you think the sport would still be as big as it is right now and grow the way it does right now? Forget about it.... It would be around but it would not continue making the impact the UFC does.

    As for DW's disrespect for some fighter, the man has a strong opinion and he is the one to just say it as it is. That is his personality. You're either gonna like him or you don't. He was talking all this shit about The Reem. The Reem said, that's what he likes about DW, he says what he thinks. He does not beat around the bush and it motivates him to work harder and be better. What i'm trying to say is, we all know DW by now and now of his antics should be a surprise and in all honesty i applaud him for the comments he made after the GSP fight. Cause it was straight up B.S. and he was upset about it, cause things like that ruin the sport. I rather deal with someone like Dana, than deal with some hypocrite that laughs in your face and talks shit when you leave the room. It's the fight business man. If you feel a certain way, you should be able to express it. President of a huge enterprise or not. Be yourself is the key...

    Reply 2 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    Thing is paying peanuts is wrong. There is something wrong with the world when you disproportionately abuse your wealth. Example wal-mart and apple who use cheap labor etc because the people have no choice and no options, it's cruelty, not good business practice. Capatalism has to have some reins, not to the degree of communism but at least give people more ethics than business ethics, how about human kindness and fair treatment. I wouldn't care If Dana was making $200 trillion per year as long as his fighter were at least well off.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    Well, first no one is calling for any communism. And even if they were, the reality is that communism, like all the other 'isms', at it's top, is a bunch of well fed, rich, thieves and nothing more; literally it's "Animal Farm" come to life. It's exactly what we have.

    Past that, I couldn't agree with you more. To be honest, I'd make the argument all day long that for large corporations, be they Wal-Mart or the UFC, hurt their business models by not spreading the wealth around.

    I certainly know this, the when a company gets to such a size and power, that it can dictate to politicians labor rates, benefit packages and hours that can be worked, then something is wrong with the model. I would never call it capitalism. No, it's more akin to Fascism.

    Personally, I think a lot of the criticism would go away if the UFC gave signed fighters a base salary and one where the got a paycheck twice a month. On this point and again, to think that Nate Diaz got paid 15K of show in his 19th fight is a little hard to stomach. And to have DW turn around and win some fights, it truly does mean that what you've done in the past doesn't count. the guy has won 12 fights in the brand and had what, 10 bonuses...give me a break. What it means is that the UFC is constantly moving the goal posts on fighters. Won six in a row, lose one and the UFC says, 'well, you just lost your last fight, and the six wins don't matter, so take what we offer you and shut up.'

    Again, if the brand keeps signing a guy and because he's exciting, then don't then turn around and talk to him about one or two losses and forget the wins and the time in. If the guy is good enough to keep around for as long as they've kept Nate around, then fighters of that type, should be paid what they are worth, and Nate is worth a whole lot more than 15K.

    On another note, when is Conor McGregor coming back? I want to see him back in the ring.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    TE....If the UFC closed shop tomorrow, it would not be the end of the sport and we both know it. It would be more than reasonable that Bellator would simply absorb the cream of the UFC and move forward.

    As to the UFC reaping the rewards of their investment, no one is arguing their right to profit from it. My point would be that to spread the wealth around better is a short sighted plan and the chinks are beginning to show in it, IMO.

    Beyond that, I will stick to my point that the fighters and the fighters alone are the business or at least the core of it. If the UFC disappeared tomorrow and Weidman and Belfort got together and did a webcast of them fighting in an Octagon in a backyard somewhere and they charged $5 for it, not only would people watch it, my guess is that Weidman & Belfort would end up making more money. Again, the fighters are the business and the UFC only a promotion, brand, marquee...that's it, and it should never be over valued.

    Until the UFC has killed every other promotion out there and removed all other options, and the in the same way that there are no "real" options for Football, Baseball, Basketball etc. ..then the UFC's #1 status is really meaningless.

    As to White and personality, why does it have to be one way or the other? Mean is upfront, no BS and acceptable, but nice can't be no BS and honest. To me, that makes no sense. I truly do believe it would be capable for White to do his job, state his honest opinions, but be nice.

    I mean, he says not only is he the president of the company, but also a fan. Well, to be honest TE, sometimes I don't see it. Sometimes he just comes across as a callous business man, with no heart, who doesn't give a crap about the fighters. And I'll say this, no "true fan", would ever trash a fighter and White has a history of it.

    On a final point and regarding his no BS style, I think that's far from the mark. White slings BS all the time, TE and we both know it; everyone knows it. So, if he's going to sling BS, then sling it with smile; pick his words and his tone more carefully.

    At any rate, that would be my view of it, my fellow fan.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    Some jobs pay well because the workers demanded it and it had to start somewhere. So why doesn't it all start here and now while it can?

    Reply 2 months ago
  • TheXperience
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    @Falcon i agree with that but you can't be bitter about it when you don't get what you ask for. In my opinion they jumped into this knowing exactly what they were signing up for, so don't bitch about it, make the best of it. If it's wins they want, in order for you to climb the latter and get paid... go out and win fights! If you can't? Well, maybe this is not for you! Also, fighter pay is increasing. Fighters get paid more and more every year. So there is progress, maybe just not fast enough for the fighters but it's happening. The sport is new but growing fast and i predict within 10 years from now, most of these complaints will be a thing of the past. On the other hand, they'll still bitch cause it's never "enough". Bigger, Better and More is the American way!

    Reply 2 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    I know they jumped into a career knowing full well it is corrupt, but they also may think if they can get in they can be a voice and make a difference.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    TE, I could turn the argument on its head and say...

    The UFC knew what it was getting into when they started, and as such, they should expect that them making a whack of money off of the fighters, while the fighters are themselves struggling, would become a problem. As such, they should be working on fixing the problem and not focusing on how to hang on to every square inch of the pie.

    And if Bigger, Better and More is the American way, then again, I can turn that on it's head and apply it to the fighters. They should not be satisfied with smaller, worse and less, for it is not the American way.

    Perhaps we should all get together at Dana's House in the middle of the desert and have a snowball fight in White's driveway. And if we get there and the snow has all melted, he can just truck in some more. After all, he does have the money for such frivolity. :-)

    Reply 2 months ago
  • watermelon fresh
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    LMAO what is wrong with Quarry? One sentence he trashes UFC and how they are horrible to fighters etc...and the next one he says: As I said, I love what the UFC has done for me and my family. And specifically what Dana has done for me. Which is Nate?

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    It is a little odd.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • enjoylife321
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    true watermelon.....he is like an abused lover that keeps forgiving

    Reply 2 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    He's thankful for opportunity but not appreciative of the pay. Simple.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    Exactly.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • hatch1921
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    I'm not saying they shouldn't make more... I fully agree. Should the fighters make NBA level pay as you mentioned? IMO...All the Pro's in other sports are WAY over paid.... gross amounts of money. They should not make NBA, NFL, Boxing money. I do agree there should be a much higher base pay for the fighters... $6K to show $6k to win is garbage. Dana claims there is something in the works for sponsors so all the fighters will benefit... time will tell. Nate is correct... it's a business. He is also correct in saying the UFC needs to do a much better job with taking care of the very people who make the UFC possible. With the new FOX deal and how the sport is expanding... you would think if a new fighter is good enough to make it into the UFC, he or she should get a base contract of "X" amount of fights and a fixed "X" amount per match… for the year. Again..not the $6k BS… Fighter pay is a touchy subject when in all reality... unless you are fighting in the UFC, we are all just guessing at this point.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • jmedno5891
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    Just the fact they won't allow a fighter to wear their own shirt? wtf I can understand them not wanting to pay an up and coming fighter a large amount but for them to cockblock them with sponsors as well is complete bull.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • kungfurule
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    so is is Nate Quarry or Nate Marquardt: yesterday this article sourced Marquardt whats up lowkick?

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    Kung, it's Nate Quarry and the error was all mine. My apologies all the way round. As soon as I realized that I'd made the mistake I took the article down and re-wrote it. It was just one big gaff on my part. No excuses.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Cookie77
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    UFC needs to stay out of the fighters sponsorship. That's how the fighters make the money. Look at all the other sports out there, the league would have official sponsors and the team and sometimes the players would have different sponsorship. Take the NBA for example D Wade is sponsored by Li Ning while Lebron is sponsored by Nike you don't hear the NBA say "You can't do that Li Ning has to pay us to sponsor Wade"

    Fighters sponsorship should have nothing to do with the UFC.. UNLESS of course if the sponsor is controvesial. Not sure about this but will the Anti-monopoly laws apply here?

    Reply 2 months ago
  • hatch1921
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    They get paid to wear the sponsors logo on their shorts/shirts/hats. This is where the UFC has control. You do not see NFL players wearing their sponsors all over their jerseys. They actually get fined for wearing anything other than what is approved by the NFL. What they do after hours not in affiliation with the UFC... I agree... the UFC should not be involved.

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    Yeah, I think Hatch summed that up Cookie. The problem becomes the event, not the clothing, so much. I can understand how the UFC would want to control that and would see that as a money stream; a fighter walking into the cage wearing sponsorships.

    My hope is that the new deal spreads sponsorship money around and takes the pressure off of fighters to find sponsors.

    That said, it would mean that fighters that get big sponsorship money would be kicking down the line to those that don't. Personally, I don't have a problem with that, because the big stars become big stars off the backs of the supporting cast, which are all the lesser known fighters that fill the brand. A promotion that only had the top fighters in it and no lesser fighters to fill out the ranks, would never survive. As such, they should be compensated with a portion of the sponsorship money that they help generate, but can't really get, because they're not famous enough.

    However and on the issue of a fighter wearing his own brand, that should be allowed; period. That's just a fighter promoting himself and I see nothing wrong with it and the brand should just say, fine. Maybe as such, they don't get any of the sponsorship 'pool' money, but that would probably be acceptable to those that wanted to wear their own brand.

    Either way, I think things will begin to turn around for fighters over the next few years. Bellator isn't going anywhere and neither is the WSOF and their expansion plans, inclusive of their NBC deal.

    Sooner or later, fighters are going to start making better money.

    That would be my 2 cents worth. :-)

    Reply 2 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    True, dat.

    Reply 2 months ago