In the ever changing landscape of how much fighters are making for their trade, one company looks to throw their idea in the mix of methods to increase fighter income.
Disclaimer: I was reached out to by Tip-A-Fighter Brand Ambassador Bubba Jenkins to be included as a fighter endorsing his company’s services. I told him I’d be more interested in voicing my first impression on an open forum, while getting a consensus of opinion from fans and the public. Jenkins, also a professional Mixed Martial Artist, and collegiate national wrestling champion, has in turn made an SBNation account to engage in the comment section, and told me that he and his company “encourage discussion.”
I got a text a few months ago, sometime around one of the Reebok articles. “We think you fit as a pioneer to help reshape the industry for the better” my phone read. It was Bubba Jenkins, a friend I hadn’t heard from in years. I knew Bubba from The Ultimate Fighter, where he had served as a wrestling coach for Team Jones. He was reaching out to tell me about a company he was representing, looking to change the landscape of fighter pay for the better.
He had wealthy partners, he mentioned, that were fans of the sport, and wanted to use some of their money to invest in an idea that could mean more capital for all of us, in a way that could add to the grand total of funds available to all athletes in our sport. The idea, he told me, was to enact a pay service that fans could engage with, to tip a fighter, should they choose their performance was worth a monetary reward.
He said they were in the process of getting everything built, but wanted to reach out to get my thoughts on it. I told him I was interested in the idea, and to get back to me when he had more details.
I got a call a few months later, a couple days before my last fight, asking if I had time for a meeting. I didn’t, but we arranged a Skype shortly after, where I got the details of “Tip-A-FIghter,” and what it is they’re looking to accomplish.
Their mission statement reads:
We are a purpose driven organization aiming to offer a Win-Win-Win proposition to our stakeholders
1. To provide fans a more personal level of engagement with fighters.
2. To provide fighters an opportunity to increase the income from their performances.
3. To provide promoters a free incentive for more exciting fight performances.
From what I’ve gathered the service would begin as a website, and then an app. They are currently unaware where they stand with the various larger MMA organizations, but part three of Tip-A-Fighter’s mission statement is to further incentivize exciting performances for the promoters, so we may soon see if promotions agree.
When asked what the difference between their company and Fund-A-Fighter was, I was told: “Pay for performance sets us apart. We are not a charity nor are we seeking donations for fighters. We advocate pay for performance. If you appreciate the entertainment a fighter provides a fan should show their gratitude and we offer a platform that provides for that.”
The only members on the masthead in the presentation I was sent were the following three:
Jonathon Davidson- President and Director- Dubai / Geneva / London
Background- Managing Partner – Law Firm
Former President of the British Businessmen’s Group in Dubai
Qualification- Bachelors Law – University of Central Lancashire
LPC Law – London College of Law
Sanj Sappal- Treasurer and Director- Honolulu, HI
Background- Regional Vice President responsible for the Hawaii South Pacific region for one of the world’s largest private security companies since 2005.
Qualification- BS in Business Administration from Chapman College
Bubba Jenkins- Brand Ambassador- Corona, CA
Background- Bellator MMA Fighter 145lb. Division
2011 NCAA Division I 157lb. Champion
Qualification- Arizona State University
I was also sent a sample contract to read over. Some of the terms included:
The “Tip Facility Agreement” would be a percentage split, based on length of contract. Three years would garner a 80/20 split, two years at 75/25, and one year at 70/30. Tips are considered taxable income, and would be counted as such.
Although the contract language for the sample I was sent does not allow for instant access to numerical progress reports, I was told that clause can and will be changed. I’m also told that the results of how much a fighter is receiving will be handled through a third party system, in Paypal.
FULL TRANSPARENCY IS OUR GOAL. THE FIGHTER WILL BE ABLE TO SEE EVERYTHING THEY ARE MAKING.
I’m told also that Tip-A-Fighter eventually has plans to expand their tip sharing to memorabilia the athlete can sell, as well as offer tips to other things the fan may appreciate, such as an entertaining twitter feed, (or enjoyable article on BloodyElbow.com, eh?).
As for my thoughts, while their website looks good, I’m not sure the product is viable without the immediacy of an iOS or Android app, which I was told is coming soon. I think the percentage of tip share is fair, and full transparency on short notice, as mentioned, would be a must. Besides that, I think they will need to have a strong roster of fighters outside of the UFC that will be able to advertise on their shorts and shirts for the rest that are not able to. From the sounds of things, it appears that they do. Social media will undoubtedly play a big part of it, but as many flashes in the pan as we see around twitter etc, I think Tip-A-Fighter will need momentum, strong and early, in order to retain any longevity.
Digesting the information given, what do you guys make of it all? Is this a practical solution to what many fans and fighters alike both complain about? Are there any potential roadblocks or hurdles you see, or any other questions for the company? Can you imagine a situation where you, as a fan, get so caught up in the excitement of the moments after a fight that you may reach in your pocket and make a donation to show your appreciation?
My sentiment of this idea is best summed up in two words: “optimistically skeptical.” Still, optimistic.
Looking forward to the community’s thoughts on this one.