Dear Roxy: ‘What are your thoughts on fighter pay?’

Roxanne Modafferi is back in the hot seat for another edition of Dear Roxy, the advice column where the ‘Happy Warrior’ goes toe-to-toe-with questions…

By: Roxanne Modafferi | 11 months ago
Dear Roxy: ‘What are your thoughts on fighter pay?’
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Roxanne Modafferi is back in the hot seat for another edition of Dear Roxy, the advice column where the ‘Happy Warrior’ goes toe-to-toe-with questions about fighting, training, and life in general.

Last week we dove into the stresses of being a competitive athlete and how it compares to the stress of day-to-day life. We also took a look at the unique experiences of training around the world, and the hidden world of referee’s pre-fight instructions. And as has been a popular topic in past editions of Dear Roxy, went back in for some more talk on fighters-to-corner communications.

This time around, we’ve got some heavy hitting topics, with questions about fighter pay and the show/win purse splits. We’re also talking USADA and the value they’ve provided to the UFC and their athletes. Cooking! Could I do it? And finally some talk about managing nutritional supplements.

Dear Roxy,

What are your thoughts on fighter pay? Do you think having half of a fighter’s payout gated behind a ‘win bonus’ is a fair system? If you agree that there are problems, what do you think the best way is for fighters to work for change? — From Rendakor

Dear Rendakor,

It’s easier for me to analyze my fight career now that I am out of it, for sure. I think that it’s logical to pay people according to their experience and performance. If they are new, they get the ‘apprentice’ wage, more experienced, the ‘journeyman’ wage, if elite, the ‘foreman’ wage, if we want to liken the scale to labor jobs.

Also, now that I’m reflecting on it, I do not think that the 50% bonus system is fair after all. All fighters want to win and they all try very hard. We know wins or losses are such a huge deal to furthering our career and paying bills that we don’t need financial motivation to win a fight. It’s not like I’m losing my third round and I think, “Gosh, I better stop being lazy or I might not make 50% of my purse!” It’s more like, “Well damn. I fought my hardest, but I’m concussed with a broken XYZ, I might get cut from the ABC organization. I can only pay my rent for two months instead of four. All that and it was a great fight, during which I performed well and did my job by making weight and training hard!”

I suppose this system benefits the promotions who pay losing fighters less. I always wondered about why, when I checked online to see fighters’ salaries posted, some veterans would get a certain amount flat. I think the win bonus should be more like one fourth of the fight purse. So now, people would get $10K to fight and another $10K if you won. I think it should be $15K to fight and you get $5K extra if you win.

Dear Roxy,

Did you know how to cook before you started fighting professionally? And if you didn’t eat out every meal, how did you deal with working, cooking, and training at the same time? — Hazmat_chimaera

The backbone of meal prep.
Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images

Dear Hazmat Chimaera,

I cooked by throwing stuff in a pot of boiling water. Then I added sauce or dressing afterwards. I threw it in a Tupperware and took it to training with me for later. That worked with all fish, meat, and veggies. I loved trying out all the sauces I could find! It became fun for me, because that’s where my flavor came from. When I started dating my current husband, I suddenly realized how short-cutty this was, and insufficient.

I looked up recipes and taught myself how to bake stuff. My husband taught me how to pan fry stuff with butter, airfry stuff in coconut oil. Now I know the difference between ‘preparing food,’ which is what I used to do, and ‘cooking,’ which is what I often do for him. I must serve him the best stuff. Preparing stuff is super easy, and you only need boiling water and sauce. I still do it for myself for lunch.

Dear Roxy,

Do you think USADA involvement in the UFC is a net negative or a net positive for fighters? – fibz

‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor and Roxy at Syndicate in 2015.
Roxanne Modafferi

Dear Fibz,

I think that depends on who you ask. Overall, it think it eliminated most steroid and PED usage. That’s a huge plus, and necessary. However, there were terrible terrible sacrifices from possibly innocent fighters. For example, my training partner ‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor was banned from fighting for two years due to Ostarine showing up in a urine sample. It’s a banned substance because it’s often used to cover up other substances, but itself had no effect on the body. He claimed he never takes supplements for this very reason, and nobody could find out where the ostarine came from. He was about 33 years old, in the prime of his athletic career, and USADA stole those years from him.

Nick Diaz got a five year ban for marijuana, which is crazy because now the rules around it have been effectively changed to make it nearly impossible for fighters to get punished for marijuana use. I try not to judge things unless I’m an expert in that field and know better, and I sure as heck don’t know how to mask performance enhancing drugs. But I feel like the penalties are too harsh for some and not others (cough Jon Jones cough), and innocence could not be proved for some.

Dear Roxy,

What’s your protocol in terms of nutrition and supplements? – 3L1T

Dear 3L1T,

I liked drinking the recovery supplement called “RECON” made by the company MUSCLE PHARM, along with multi-vitamins. I take calcium supplements and iron because they’re good for women. Then I got USADA tested, and everything checked out. Muscle Pharm has all the stamps and seals of approval from various organizations that it’s safe, but after I passed USADA that one time, it became the only brand I would take, just in case. I’d take their protein powder and RECON after training, and that was it.

Other supplement companies tried to get me to sample their stuff, or offered to sponsor me. I was too afraid USADA would find Ostarine in it or something like poor Tom, so I refused all those supplement offers. Then one day Tom said, “We take things like Emergen-C and don’t even think about it.” I realized I was taking “Jet Alert” caffeine pills, but I passed USADA with them, so I stick to that brand. Thank goodness I don’t have to live in fear anymore.

If you’d like to submit your own questions for ‘Dear Roxy’ feel free to email me at, with the subject line “Dear Roxy”, or reach out on twitter @RoxyFighter with the hashtag #DearRoxy. Or simply leave your questions in a comment below on Bloody Elbow. Look forward to hearing from you all soon.

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About the author
Roxanne Modafferi
Roxanne Modafferi

Roxanne Modafferi is a former UFC fighter with 19 years of MMA experience. She’s fought for titles in the UFC, Strikeforce, and Invicta. A jiujitsu blackbelt, she teaches jiujitsu at the gym, and English in the classroom. Roxanne has self-published three books in addition to contributing articles for this site. In her free time, she watches anime and plays video games (Twisted Metal, Skyrim, etc).

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