Morning Report: Chuck Liddell defends UFC fighter pay, tells critics ‘you picked the wrong profession'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Grumbles about low fighter pay remain a thorn in UFC officials' sides, despite their best efforts to quell the ruckus. But if you're to believe one Hall of Famer, the discussion is much ado about nothing.

"Okay, look. I just had this conversation with a top-10 fighter, and he's saying the same thing. [Lower paid] guys have got to understand, this is a performance based sport, like all sports," former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell recently explained to SiriusXM Fight Club. "You fight good, you win, you get paid. Alright? You're starting out, no one knows who you are, no one cares, you don't get paid. Period. It's simple. I mean, my first contract I was offered by the UFC, or my second contract, it was 1-and-1, 2-and-2, 3-and-3. That's $12,000 for the year. Don't complain to me about fighter pay. It was $12,000 for a year and it was exclusive.

"Everybody doesn't want to hurt to lower guys from getting paid, but it comes down to, it's a performance based business. You get good, you win, then you get paid. Guys are getting paid plenty, trust me. I got paid plenty, trust me."

Liddell, who currently serves as the UFC's Executive Vice President of Business Development, continued to defend the UFC's pay structure, then grew animated as the topic turned to the negative comparisons drawn between MMA salaries and the lavish, multi-million dollar purses pulled in by boxing's biggest stars.

"Everybody points to, ‘Oh, boxing these guys are getting [paid].' There's a couple guys that make these big huge paydays. That's it," Liddell explained. "The undercards don't make anything. There's bottom guys on some of those cards that are making $100 a round. $100 a round. That's $400 for a four-round fight.

"People got to understand, the fighters at the top are the fighters that are supposed to get paid because they're the guys that are bringing people in, bringing eyes to the TV, getting pay-per-views buys, and putting people in the seats. I mean, that's what it comes down to. You want to get that? Beat everybody. Be good enough. If you're not good enough to get there -- sorry. It's not a welfare state."

"You picked the wrong sport," Liddell said in closing. "Hey, you made a good run at it. You tried. Eh, try another sport because this one doesn't work for you."

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

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MEDIA STEW

This fella just wanted to be choked out by Cat Zingano. Her only stipulation? She gets to complete the choke.

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Okay, this is gold. Phil Baroni apparently fought in a ToughMan competition back in 2000, and then things got a bit crazy.

(HT: Reddit)

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This guy thought it'd be a good idea to call out Chael Sonnen. But he forgot the golden rule: Never engage in verbal fisticuffs against the guy holding the mic. (For the lazy, jump to 1:35 to see the "real talk.")

(HT: Reddit)

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Frankie Edgar fought on Saturday, and he already has a new highlight video up by Tuesday. Dang, you guys work fast.

Props to ‏@Idefixion for the find.

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So, this is probably the coolest whiskey commercial ever.

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NOT SEEING THINGS CHUCK'S WAY

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SOMETHING'S A BREWIN'

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TAKING IT ALL IN STRIDE

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WINNER

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Tuesday, July 9, 2013):

  • N/A

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day is fond look back, courtesy of CaptainArmbar: Not even trolling: Why I'm glad Silva went out in 'style'

Let's get this out of the way first: I don't know how I feel about Anderson Silva as a man. I don't know enough about him. I could speculate, based on how he acts in interviews or the Octagon, but I might never know how he actually thinks. I'm not sure many people do. I'm not sure I even care.

As a fighter, though: he's phenomenal. As someone who grew up on Jackie Chan and Batman comics, trying to separate McDojos and myth from 'real' fighting, I feel privileged to be able to watch someone who could do that stuff for real. Not occasionally: not as a one-off, or against sub-standard competition, but against the some of the best opposition the world had to offer.

There were glimmers of it early. When Silva fought Tony Fryklund, the legend goes, his team told him the reverse elbow, which he'd seen in Tony Jaa's Ong Bak, would never work in a real fight, and begged him not to use it - Silva, ever the perfectionist, practised it 200 times a night on a couch cushion held by his wife, then knocked Stryklund cold in under a round. He dismantled Leben easily, then did the same to Franklin - twice. In their second fight, when Franklin looked terrified every time the Thai clinch seemed close, Silva still took risks, rolling and shucking away from punches when there was really no need to. I was furious when he fought Maia and Leites, though with the passage of time I can understand those performances. Whatever it looked like in the cage, he respected their grappling: 'leaving it all in the Octagon' and 'throwing down', and 'fighting for the crowd' are fine for guys who don't ever expect to win a title, and they're even better for the boss - but for a guy who'd nearly given up fighting when it couldn't feed his family? A guy trying to move to America and make a better life? If you're confident saying you'd have fought differently in that situation, you're a better man than me, or you're deluding yourself.

And then there were the great fights, the ridiculous fights, the ones where Silva cemented his legend. Against Griffin, Silva looked like Bruce Lee, but real - fighting a weight category up against a former champion, he put on the sort of show you might never see again. Against Bonnar, he made a mockery of the bigger man's gameplan, standing on the cage and asking him to give it his best shot. He fought with the precision of a surgeon and the power of a prime Tyson - amid all the clowning, you could never tell when the show might end with a cannon-blast knee or a perfectly-placed anchor punch. In any GSP fight since Serra 2, you know what's going to happen after 45 seconds - either the guy can't stop the takedown and will be ground out, or he can stop the takedown and will be jabbed to oblivion. Silva seems to be looking for something purer, something better - not content to win by doing the same thing, but constantly pushing his own limits and redefining the boundaries for everyone else.

And then came the end. Yes, he messed it up. No, I don't care about what it means for Weidman - Weidman's career is something he'll have to define on his own, by holding the belt for as long as he can, however he wants to try and do it. Silva, for his part, was doing what he's done since he first came to the UFC - fighting in a way that defied belief, that seemed so ridiculous it was hard to tell where the clowning ended and reality began.

Anderson Silva is the best fighter I've ever seen. He might be the best fighter who's ever lived. Whatever he does now, it's a privilege to have watched him work.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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