Thursday, April 3, 2014

Outside the Octagon: Crowdfunding in Professional Fighting


Professional athletes are always trying to find new ways to make money to help them personally and to allow them to commit to their sport full time.  Some of the past ways include sponsorships and endorsements, autograph signings, personal appearances etc. MMA athletes have added a new one to the list, crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding websites have become very popular lately to fund basically any idea you can come up with.  Some of the most popular websites include GoFundMe and Kickstarter.  These websites allow people to donate to a certain page to help out and support the project.  The MMA specific website is called Fund a Fighter and is helping fund multiple fighters from all over the United States and Canada.  The fighters on Fund a Fighter are in many different promotions from the UFC to smaller local professional leagues. 

These fighters are starting to use crowdfunding in order to help off-set training and travel expenses.  If you are in the upper echelon in the UFC you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per fighter.  However, the fighters on the undercards or in other leagues make only a couple thousand dollars per fight.  If a fighter makes about $5,000 per fight and can only fight a few times per year, they will only make possibly $40,000 per year.  

Fighters, in order to get better, need to be devoted to fighting full time.  This makes it hard for them to find a job to pay for their training, equipment, and travel costs.  Training by itself can be about $170 per month if not even higher.  All of the fighting related expenses add up and can cost  them a big portion of their yearly income. 
I personally really like the idea of crowdfunding.  Like I previously mentioned it is a good way for undercard fighters to help offset expenses.  I would not approve of this if a big name fighter like Anderson Silva started doing this.  These websites were not created for fighters like Silva.  It is also a cool way for fighters to interact with their fans.  Fans will be able to contribute directly to that fighter and if they win, the fan knows that the money they gave helped.  Fan engagement is big in MMA, especially in UFC, who push fighters to be active on social media by offering them bonuses.
Not everyone might have the same opinion on this topic.  Some people might believe this way of asking for money sounds a lot like welfare.  It might seem like the fighter is asking for a handout from their fans.  No matter what your opinion is, the success of Kickstarter and other websites will make more fighters want to try this idea to help them become a better MMA fighter.
 
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 Greg Monforte is a Drexel University Sport Management pre-junior from South Jersey.  Currently he works at Not Just Pizza in Sicklerville, NJ and Daddis Fight Camps in Philadelphia where he has social media and marketing responsibilities.  Greg is also the SMTSU Director of Marketing & Outreach.  Follow Greg on Twitter @Greg_Monforte.
Connect with Greg Monforte on LinkedIn. 

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