Imagine that tomorrow when you go to work, be it in a cubicle, an oil fi eld or on the mean streets handing out parking tickets (bastard) that the day determines your salary for the next year. Your morning Starbucks won’t be the only thing to make your butt hole pucker up, and “Have a good day at work” takes on a whole new meaning now doesn’t it. Imagine one big day determining your worth for the next several months at the very least. This is the situation a fi ghter faces every time he enters the ring. But how much is the fi ghter really worth? Is it a dime, a dollar, millions? The answer differs, depending on who you’re asking. Here are a few that I’ve heard throughout the years.
“You ain’t worth a damn.” -trainer
A former trainer of mine said these exact words to me a long time ago. At the time, he was probably right. I hadn’t paid him a red cent, and I hadn’t earned much more than that for myself. On top of that, what little money I did earn for appearing in a small show in Hawaii, got left in my suitcase because when I packed I was drunk off my ass. TSA security staff confi scated it during a “routine” inspection of my bags, which also “routinely” captured a video camera of mine. When I got back, my walking papers were waiting for me and as a young Jason always did, I said, “I don’t give a fawk!” and skated on my merry way. Although I was worthless to my coach, my training partners felt like they just got hit with the adjustable rate on their mortgage, because when he booted me out of the gym, they lost one of the most valuable pieces of human capital they had. I was training with a group of mostly kick boxers, and being the “Jiu Jitsu Guy” I was a big piece of a massive puzzle, a puzzle that got kicked across the kitchen fl oor when I left. A few of my buddies went on a streak of getting submitted, because they didn’t have my style to see in the room. “Not worth a damn” indeed. On the fl ip side, I myself underestimated the worth of having that team environment and I took a few asswhippins before I found a new team.
Many fans are out of their minds, and will give over their fi rst born to be close to a fi ghter. I’ve seen some of my own friends become infatuated with “Mayhem” when they’ve known “Jason” for years – and don’t even mention it if somebody like Chuck Liddell comes around. With PPV buys at about 50 bucks a pop, a fan may sell his mothers house to get close enough to touch a real life fi ghter. In fact I feel very strange about the whole thing, the same way I feel weird when I see old footage of girls going bananas for the Beatles, or people passing out at a Michael Jackson concert, before he turned into a creepy old white woman. Not that I don’t like it, but I’d prefer if it was only hot chicks. Hey, that could be a great formula to fi nd a fi ghters worth – subtract the fi ghters ugliness from the hotness of the groupies that he gets, divide that by how crazy his hottest one is, and multiply by how many baby mamas he has. So for the mathematically inclined BM (U-HG/C). OK, now I’m confused.
If the fans love you, you are worth mountains of steaming hot cash to the promoter, but they will do anything possible to not let you know that. The promoter’s job is to make you feel as if you are worth nothing, and then pay you as close to that number as you will take. I don’t think that fi ghters should feel bitter towards the promoters for this; it’s just as close as you can get to an adversarial system and still be in business together. While you are smiling in each other’s faces, you may be cussing behind each other’s backs. Good times, and a hell of a way to run a business. The other situation is that you are friends and you try not to be adversarial at all, just make the money together, and that can work great. You can be butter cupping with the promoter, and be king of the world – waving your fl ags over your massive bleached-blond head, getting choice opponents thrown beneath your fl aming shorts, with a nation of millions at your feet, but the minute you bite the hand that feeds you, you suddenly have your mic cut off and you’re ushered out of your own press conference after your last fi ght. The promoter may see you as a friend, but the minute you turn out to be more of a hassle than you are worth, prepare for trouble. Usually when a friendship ends, it doesn’t have to be a big deal, but when it’s an MMA break up, prepare for drama. The promoter makes the rules, and if he gets angry, he can take his ball and go home. Any fi ghter that tries to buck the system better prepare to take a beating – in their pocketbook. The promoter will do his best to ensure that happens in the ring as well. When you are worthless to a promoter, they’ll do their best to ensure your market value goes down – i.e. when it’s time to renegotiate your contract, the hardest of the hard fi ghts tend to come up, whereas when they want to be your best friend, they tend to hand you fresh and juicy tomato cans.
Now with all the pressure put on a fi ghter it is easy to get down on oneself. I’ve had moments when I felt like 98 cents. That’s not enough to get something from the value menu. Not even a coffee. A promoter can make you feel like you aren’t even worth a cup of coffee, but you can turn around and run into a fan and feel like a million bucks.
Open a letter that is handwritten, complete with, the backwards “R’s” from a “Thank you for your fi ghts, you make them entertaining” from a young fan, and POW ! Ferrari money instantaneously. It’s a wonder that more fi ghters aren’t head cases with that up and down battle of self-worth.
That being said, it is easy to have the self esteem of a 15- year old-girl, and if a fi ghter starts feeling like that, he fi ghts like a 15 year old girl. I think I speak for most fi ghters in that, I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of my worth. If you get caught up in worrying what everyone thinks about you, you may as well hang up the gloves and strap on some Goth make-up and T-shirts from Hot Topic (keeping with the 15 year old girl references)
If we cared about what everyone else thinks, we probably wouldn’t be fi ghters in the fi rst place. I’d probably be a computer consultant of some kind, more miserable than my most destitute days as a fi ghter, maybe working out of a cubicle for dear old dad, sometimes double-legging him through the thin walls of my cubicle, just to break up the day a bit.
I guess the best thing a fi ghter can do is take all the happiness and shove it in a piggy bank, under his mattress, or a high yield, interest bearing account, and save for a rainy day, then when it starts to pour, buy a jacket, some goulashes, or some computer classes. Hell, I guess that is good advice for anybody, so go on, “Have a good day at work.”