The issue of fighter pay in the UFC continues to be a hot topic. Sure, the guys at the very top get paid a ton — Conor McGregor made $5 million to fight at UFC 202, and that was before any bonuses or pay-per-view cuts were added.
However, the guys at the bottom of the card still routinely make roughly $10,000 per fight. With the organization recently selling for an eye-popping $4 billion, maybe fighters are left wondering if they’ve been getting the short end of the stick (spoiler alert: they have).
Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold actually fit somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to fighter pay. He made $250,000 for his last fight against Michael Bisping, where he dropped the title. That’s way more than $10,000 but even further away from the millions that marquee fighters like McGregor, Brock Lesnar, or Ronda Rousey make. So he’s using his free time to get a little side gig, trying to hustle for some extra cash.
“I’m here (in New York) next week for fashion week,” he said recently on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour radio show. “I‘ve got some big contracts that we are working up right now. I’m meeting some top brands and talking about some deals we can potentially jump into in that market, as far as modeling. I’m talking about getting paid. We’ll keep it under wraps. But we are talking top tier brands.”
You read that right. Rockhold is jumping from the octagon to the runway to try his hand at being a male model. But the move is probably only temporary, unless he figures out a way to really cash in.
“I’m a fighter at heart, but I am here to get paid. If there is more potential there, I will take it. And we are talking big numbers. So I can laugh, let my body heal and wait until the time is right to come back when it makes sense.”
One this is certain: being a fashion model is way less damaging than being a professional prize fighter. No more grueling training camps, no more harsh weight cuts, and no more getting punched in the face for a living. Rockhold seems to realize how the UFC really works, and knows it’s all just a game when it come to maximizing his own value.
“I have a good relationship with UFC, for sure,” he continued. “They are always going to try to … it’s business and they are going to try to make things to their advantage. They will try to take advantage of certain things and put you in a place and do what they can. It’s business and it’s how it is. But guess what? I got my own business on the side and I can stand my ground, too, and I can take some time off and make some money.”