Former UFC welterweight Jon Fitch is breathing new life after leaving his former employer and signing on with upstart promotion World Series of Fighting, where he debuts in the main event this Friday night.
Fitch fought for the UFC for just over seven-and-a-half years, battled for the welterweight title on one occasion, and, in total, fought for the organization 18 times, amassing a 14-3-1 overall record.
Ultimately following a stretch where he went 1-2 over three fights, the UFC opted to release Fitch from the organization despite being ranked No. 9 at the time in the promotion's own rankings. The decision to release Fitch was met with some shock, but he moved on quickly to sign with a new promotion and start phase two of his career.
Still, the UFC's name gets brought up to Fitch quite often, and during a media conference call last week, he responded by saying working there many times felt like it was a "hostile" environment where he was "not appreciated" and it was a "clear sign of not wanting somebody around."
It didn't take long for UFC President Dana White to respond to the ill will claims from Fitch, so in an interview with MMAJunkie.com, he revealed Fitch's discretionary bonuses, which are not accounted for by the typical fighter salaries released by the state athletic commissions following each fight card. White stated that the company paid Fitch $302,000 in additional bonuses on top of his agreed upon pay structure, and also that his complaints of a hostile workplace were "total bulls—t."
On Monday, Fitch decided to respond with a video explaining how much he was paid by the UFC over the course of his career. He also emphatically stated that he never once complained about the money he made while he was in the company, and his comments were never necessarily about the pay they gave him while he was there.
"There's been some talk involving money matters and me and some bonuses I've made over my career with the UFC," Fitch stated. "So, I wanted to shine some more light on my financial matters to give the fans a better idea the type of money a fighter like me actually makes.
"I've never complained about money, I've always loved the money that I made from fighting with the UFC and organizations before I fought with the UFC."
Fitch broke down the numbers for his salary over the years with the UFC, and the amounts largely matched exactly what White stated, at least regarding the bonuses paid on top of his regular show and win money.
"In my 18 fights with the UFC, I was paid $1,020,000—that was show money and win money. I also made about $300,000 in bonuses, two of those bonuses were Fight of the Night bonuses," Fitch explained. "One was Georges St-Pierre, a $60,000 fight of the night, and the Erick Silva fight, it was a $70,000 bonus. So, in total, I made $1,322,000.
"Sounds like a lot of money, but lets look at that a little bit closer. Out of the 18 fights out of that $1,020,000, I paid 20 percent of that to management and the gym. So, if you take that number—$1,322,000—divided by seven-and-a-half years, I was roughly making just over $176,000 a year. Now remember, that's before management and gym fees. You also have other expenses you have to pay for, equipment, stuff like that."
If Fitch's numbers are accurate, that means he would have paid around $204,000 to his management and gym at American Kickboxing Academy. While Fitch didn't discuss this at the time, he also has to pay taxes on that amount of money, which would also reach well over $200,000 based on his original pay of $1,020,000 over 18 fights.
Fitch would have also paid taxes anytime he fought internationally, like his bout against Erick Silva at UFC 153 in Brazil. Whenever fights take place outside of the United States, fighters will routinely be taxed in the country they are visiting before their final pay is given to them by the promotion.
Former UFC lightweight John Cholish recently revealed in an interview with Bleacher Report that when he traveled to Brazil for UFC on FX 8 earlier this year, the country took 27 percent off his total gross pay for taxes.
All told, Fitch still says he wasn't complaining about the money he made with the UFC, although when he started breaking down numbers for pay-per-view sales, gates and attendance, he believes the promotion is keeping a lion's share of the profits.
Once White revealed the bonuses, however, Fitch felt compelled to reveal exactly what he was making over the course of his career with the UFC. Regardless of any numbers tossed around, he still stands by his original point that he was never concerned about the money he made and that's not what his statement was about.
"Money was never important to me. That wasn't why I fight, that wasn't the point of fighting," Fitch said. "I wanted to be the best in the world and prove that I'm the best in the world. I don't know why money always gets brought back up with them, and it's not important to me, but I thought it was important for the fans to know what the numbers actually are and to get some kind of perspective what fighters are actually getting paid."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report