The ambition for almost every MMA fighter is to become UFC champion one day. It's the same way for Lance Palmer, except a little more complicated than that.
The World Series of Fighting featherweight champion is very happy with where he is. He just signed a new four-fight contract extension with WSOF and meets Chris Horodecki in the main event of WSOF 21 on Friday night in Edmonton.
Palmer (9-1), a four-time wrestling All-American at Ohio State, is poised to become one of the faces of WSOF. He believes right now he's making more money for the smaller organization than he would with the UFC and "it's not even close."
"My end goal is to have the belt in whatever the best and biggest organization is and right now every body is happy saying that the UFC is the best organization," Palmer told MMAFighting.com. "For competition, yes. For pay and being able to make a living, I wouldn't say so much for most guys. There's a few guys that make a great living with the UFC, but overall I think a lot of guys are way underpaid."
Palmer, 27, isn't even necessarily talking about the UFC's new deal with Reebok, which will cut heavily into many fighters' sponsor money. The Team Alpha Male product just doesn't think the fight purses are as much as they should be in the UFC.
"I just think if I was offered $100,000 a fight, I wouldn't give a sh*t about sponsors," Palmer said. "They can pay me a dollar from Reebok and I wouldn't care. If I was making 50 and 50 to fight, then I wouldn't care, but I wouldn't go there for less than that. You're fighting the best guys in the world and I feel that I'm a top-10 guy in the featherweight division. I definitely wouldn't go to the UFC for less than 50 and 50 to fight those top caliber guys. I don't see myself going in the UFC and fighting anybody out of the top 10 in my first fight."
In the next four fights, Palmer does have a chance to make himself into one of the hot young commodities in MMA. That all begins Friday night against Horodecki, a veteran of WEC, Bellator and the IFL. The two men are the same age, but Horodecki (21-5-1, 1 NC) is a 10-year MMA pro. Palmer has only been fighting professionally for four years.
"He's already been there," Palmer said. "He's already had his shot at a young age and didn't accomplish the goals he probably wanted to accomplish. I think it's my time now. He's already passed up his chance. He's definitely a tough fighter and he's been around for a long time, but I'm going to out there and just impose my will and my offense. The belt is going to stay with me."
Palmer won the title from Rick Glenn last December. His only career loss came against Georgi Karakhanyan, the current Bellator featherweight top contender, back in 2013. Palmer has won his last two fights with rear-naked chokes and he'll be looking for a similar result against Horodecki, who will be fighting in front of his home country's fans.
"I don't know if I'd be happy with a decision," Palmer said. "You can't really let it go to decision being in Canada with judging in MMA nowadays. But I'm definitely gonna try and get the finish. That's my goal."
Palmer wants to hold the WSOF belt for as long as possible and then take things from there. He said one of the drawbacks to not being in the UFC is that many casual fans still equate the sport of MMA with the high-profile organization. Other than that, though, Palmer is very content with World Series of Fighting and expects to be for some time.
"That's nothing against the UFC, but I just think they have too many guys on the roster and they're just spreading their money too thin," Palmer said. "I think they should have a smaller roster of guys that are really the elite guys. Even if it's only 50 guys in each weight class or whatever it is."
And after July when the Reebok deal kicks in, he's hoping some of the sponsors that used to work with UFC fighters will come over to him.
"I don't know what needs to change [for the UFC], but I know that Reebok deal doesn't help any of those guys and it's gonna help me, that's for sure," Palmer said. "I'm happy where I'm at right now."