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Matt Brown in favor of flat UFC fighter pay, no more ‘show and win’ system

Matt Brown is down more than $100,000 after a close decision didn’t go his way.

“The Immortal” was on the wrong end of a split call at UFC Columbus, where he went three thrilling rounds with Bryan Barberena. Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Barberena, and while both welterweights were rewarded with a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus, only Barberena walked out with a winner’s check.

According to the official list of salaries acquired by MMA Fighting, Brown was paid $105,000 to show — a win would have doubled that amount. Brown recently appeared on The MMA Hour, where he expressed his desire to see open scoring implemented and for fighters to be paid a higher guaranteed rate regardless of whether they win or lose.

“The performance bonus, even though I’ve gotten a few and it’s made my life a lot better, I’m not so much a fan of that,” Brown said. “Again, that’s a subjective thing. I like to take as much subjectiveness out of this as possible. I think that in a perfect world we’d all get a flat pay. There shouldn’t be a show and win.

“I got half of the pay last weekend and was there a loser in that fight? Even if they gave it to me — which they should have — and Barberena walks away with half, he didn’t deserve half of his pay. He deserves his whole pay.”

UFC Columbus marked Brown’s 29th fight for the promotion. He holds the record for the most welterweight appearances in company history. In his time with the UFC, the 41-year-old has been positioned everywhere from the preliminary opener to the main event, and he’s unquestionably earned the respect of officials, fans, and media alike.

Brown believes that should the UFC eventually decide to move to a flat pay structure, it can start at the top with fighters who have proven to be reliable and should be rewarded as such. Brown has seen some tough breaks in his UFC career, which would sting less if his compensation better reflected his value.

“At a minimum, at least when you’ve had a certain amount of fights with the UFC or some sort of standard,” Brown said. “You’ve got this ranking or something where, ‘OK, you’ve earned your keep. We know you’re gonna put on good fights. We know that you’re here. We know that you’re professional.’ Because some of these guys, they’re not professionals, and even in the UFC there’s guys that probably aren’t deserving. But you show up, you make weight, you put on a good fight, things happen.

“This sport, you do all this work and all this training, preparation, the sacrifice, the grind, and then you get out there and some bulls*** happens. How often have we seen some fluke s*** happen in this sport? It’s almost a weekly occurrence in this sport and now you just lost half your pay for that? Or bad judges, you know? You lose half your pay because of bad judging, which has happened to me more than once now.”

Even though he’d like to see advances in judging and fighter pay, Brown is happy where he is and has no plans to leave the promotion he’s called home since 2008. He signed a new contract with the UFC following the loss to Barberena.

Rain or shine, Brown is the definition of an MMA lifer.

“I have my opinions on this stuff and I’m very strong about it, but I’m also very blessed and very grateful that I’m able to live the life that I live,” Brown said. “I love what I do. It sucks right now. I thought I won the Carlos Condit fight [in January 2021], which was way closer, I thought, than this fight, so I’m not as mad about that. And now this fight ... if I would have got the judges’ decision on both of these, I’d be on a three-fight win streak and looking at top 15, at least top 20 opponent — and at my age, that was kind of what I was shooting for.

“Whether that’s a goal now is kind of what changes. Now I just re-signed with the UFC, they offered me a new contract straight away after the fight. It was not my last fight but I was kind of pressing for a contract before, and [UFC President] Dana [White] and [UFC matchmaker] Sean [Shelby] like me and I put on good fights, so everything just worked out. I got a raise, so I’m happy with the amount they gave me and everything.

“I live a great life, I love what I do. I think now it’s just a lot more about the love of the sport and to have fun, getting back to maybe trying to put together a win streak. I’m just gonna see whatever happens. So my point being, my love for this sport hasn’t changed at all. I freakin’ love this sport. I love getting out, especially in front of the fans. The last two years because of COVID kind of sucked, but being back in front of the fans, I mean, it’s the most glorious thing on this planet — and anyone who hasn’t experienced it, I can’t put in words what it feels like. And I’m very blessed and grateful to be able to experience it in my life.”

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