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UFC and Porn: 5 Similarities

Aaron KellerstrassCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2017

UFC and Porn: 5 Similarities

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    You kids today don’t know how lucky you are.  When I was young the UFC was underground.  Most of the fights I saw were on VHS tapes (you can Google them if you don’t know what these are), which were passed down from someone’s older brother after he had watched them so many times the footage was fuzzy, skipped and had a big fat line right through Royce Gracie’s rear naked choke. 

    Same went for porn.  The stuff was underground, sometimes literally, as it seemed every guy I knew had a story about finding a Playboy buried in the woods.  Otherwise it was passed along on the same grainy tapes, usually after someone’s father or older brother had carelessly left it laying around or watched it so many times that the opening theme song set off a Pavlovian response.

    Today’s youth have it great.  The UFC is on TV or just a click away on a million different websites. Same with porn, which is now so ubiquitous that just like the UFC, has crept into the mainstream.  In this spirit I’d like to explore five other similarities between the porn industry of my youth and the UFC.

High Risk, Low Reward

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    1. There is a small group of men making lewd amounts of money off of other people’s bodies

    In no other sport is the discrepancy between owner and athlete so profound, especially when considering that the UFC is one of the most dangerous sports.  Sure, in the early days of the UFC it was understandable to pay the fighters so little.  The sport was struggling and wasn’t even considered a sport by many. 

    The Fertittas, along with Dana White and Joe Silva, made the UFC what it is today, and they deserve the rewards for their financial investments and the risks they took in the beginning.  But that early investment has been paid back a million times by now.

    Let’s face it, they aren’t the ones getting their heads caved in on a regular basis. 

    Tito Ortiz had to have serious neck surgery, Wanderlei Silva had to have a new nose built for his face just so he could breathe properly, and there are a thousand more stories just like this. 

    According to industry sources, the UFC made over $410 million in gross pay-per-view revenue in 2010 and is on pace to smash that in 2011.  With the organization absorbing or buying most of the competition and spreading all over the world, it is only going to get bigger. 

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many UFC products it is now hard to keep track. 

    It is time to start spreading a little more of this money around to the guys who are dedicating their lives and risking their bodies.

    This is no different than the 90s porn industry, which at the time raked in billions of dollars but paid very little to its stars, who were doing awful things to their bodies.  I think I’d rather fight Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones at the same time than be in the same room as a naked Ron Jeremy.  Just like the UFC, the stars are doing the dirty work for relative peanuts while the guys selling the DVDs and pay-per-views are making the real money. 

    Parts of Bella Donna now look like Randy Couture’s ears, and neither made enough for it.

Only the Stars Get Rich

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    2. Just like the porn industry of the past (Jenna Jameson), the UFC has a few marquee stars who make millions (Brock Lesnar), but overall, most of them don’t.

    This really ties in with No. 1, but let’s take a look at some more numbers:

    For UFC 132, Tito Ortiz made a whopping $450,000 for beating Ryan “The Master” Bader (I don’t care, that’s his nickname as far as I’m concerned), who made a measly $20,000 in defeat.  Wanderlei Silva made an impressive $200,000 for his 27-second loss to Chris Leben, who made $92,000 for his efforts. 

    Ironically, Faber and Cruz, who were the main event, earned $62,000 combined.  So what’s the problem you might ask?  It seems like this is a ton of money for one night’s work, right? 

    First off, this isn’t one night’s work. It is a full-time job that never really ends.  Secondly, there are fighters, who for varying reasons only fight once or twice a year.  If this is only a two time a year effort and you make $10,000 per fight (which some of the undercard guys do), it means you are making roughly what a schoolteacher in Missouri makes. 

    The difference is that the schoolteacher doesn’t have maniacs trying to choke her out, isn’t teaching in front of millions of people and her career can last well into her 70s.  You can’t say the same for fighters, who really have a short window of opportunity to make money doing what they do best. 

    Also, let’s remember there are hundreds, if not thousands, of fighters who will never get the chance to fight in a UFC pay-per-view event.

    In the 90s there were a few cases where porn “stars” made millions, (Jenna Jameson comes immediately to mind.) but for the most part the industry was filled with people who made very little money from the movies in which they appeared. 

    Getting paid $10,000 to possibly be permanently damaged in the octagon is not much different than getting paid $10,000 to do the “Houston 500.”  However, there are plenty of other ways for them to cash in, which brings me to No. 3.

Endorsements, Supplements and "Toys"

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    3. Most fighters and porn stars make more money doing other things.

    It was well known in the porn industry that most female actors made more money showcasing at strip clubs than they did making movies.  The movies gave them exposure, got their name out there. 

    This is similar in the UFC, where all the top fighters make more money from endorsements, merchandise and supplement lines than they do from fighting.  Tito Ortiz has Punishment, Jesse Jane has the Fleshlight. 

Troubled Pasts

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    4. Many of the stars come from messed-up backgrounds

    OK, I don’t want to get too heavy here or too deep into the psychological reasons why some people get involved in pornography, but I have to assume they are similar to the reasons that some people fight. 

    Maybe it is not as simple as “Daddy didn’t pay enough attention to me” or “I had a dirty uncle,” but fighting and sex appeal to primitive parts of humans, and our reasons for doing them are often formed by our environment.  How many times on "TUF" have you heard fighters say “The UFC saved my life, I’d probably be dead or in prison if not for this?” 

    Not all fighters and porn stars come from broken homes and messed-up situations, but a lot of them do.

Brutal Aging

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    5. The stars don’t usually age gracefully

    The first time I saw Antonio Nogueira fight I thought, “Wow, that guy looks like a 200-year-old stone,” only to realize that he and I are virtually the same age.  I am not saying I’ve aged well, I have a belly and a few gray hairs, but this dude looks like he’s been dragged behind a car. 

    If you come out of a UFC career with only mild cauliflower ear, a few scars from cuts and a knee surgery or two, consider yourself lucky.  Fresh pretty faces get destroyed in the UFC as ruthlessly as they do in porn, where squeaky-clean newcomers like Jenna Haze quickly get pummeled worse than Jon Jones destroyed Matt Hamill. 

Conclusion: It's a Tough World

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    It’s a tough life for stars of porn and the UFC.  They are often underpaid and unappreciated for all of the joy that they bring us.

    But hey, I am glad they do what they do, and I hope they continue to chase their dreams, whether that dream is to hold the title for most men fought or most men…well, you get the picture.

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