Go ahead and watch all 3 videos in order (each video is approximately 5 minutes):
Go ahead and watch all 3 videos in order (each video is approximately 5 minutes):
On August 15, 2009 Cristiane Santos and Gina Carano competed in a mixed martial arts match that had as much crowd anticipation and energy as virtually any men's match (see video, below).
While critics may suggest certain aspects of the match were sloppy or that the match did not yield pay-per-view buys on par with top UFC fight cards, one should also recall that generally speaking the women's MMA game has not been in play for nearly as long as the men's, and more importantly, as in most other sports, female athletes are not supported in the MMA industry as much as male athletes.
Since Zuffa (the UFC's parent company) announced earlier this month that it had subsumed the Strikeforce promotion, a number of analysts have discussed the precarious position in which fighters now see themselves (see for example, here). Narrowing the focus, a few pieces have noted the especially uncertain position of female fighters currently under the Strikeforce brand. Fowlkes' piece at MMAFighting.com offers particularly useful perspectives from three of Strikeforce's female fighters -- Sarah Kaufman, Marloes Coenen, and Miesha Tate:
"I think one of two things can happen," said former Strikeforce champ Sarah Kaufman. "The first is that they embrace the females and still try to push them using the Strikeforce venue and then maybe pulling them over [into the UFC]. That would be great, if that were to happen. The second option would be, they run the contracts out and then that's it. I'm definitely hoping for the former, but I'm preparing for the latter."
"I believe that with the knowledge of the UFC, Strikeforce will grow even larger," said Coenen. "If Dana and the others see that women can bring him money, it will be good for us. What we need are the role models like Gina Carano and Miesha and hopefully me, as well, that women can relate to. ...I truly believe that if they can get the women's audience, and if they can identify with a girl next door like me or Miesha, then the female fanbase, which is way more loyal than the men are, will only grow from there. That's the way I think Dana and Zuffa should look at it."
"I know Dana White isn't a huge women's fighting advocate at all, and I know he's saying he'll honor the contracts, so immediately I don't think anything is going to change," said Tate. "But I'm a little concerned about when renegotiations come around for the women. I don't know how he's going to weigh our value and how we're going to get paid. I'm also more concerned about the big picture when the Showtime contract ends for Strikeforce. That's when I think there's going to be some big changes."
Tate's point regarding how female fighters are valued in the MMA indsutry can be further analyzed by examining female fighters' recent compensation in major MMA fight cards relative to their male counterparts.
A more detailed description of the methods for this piece can be found here. In short, to collect data for this project, the available information was gathered from MMA websites for each fighter's publicly stated earned income from UFC 100 to UFC 127, as well as a sample of Strikeforce fighters' salaries who competed within the timeframe. Only major fight cards were examined for this project, essentially meaning cards that were held on a pay-per-view basis. As noted previously, following UFC 127, Zuffa L.L.C. purchased the Strikeforce promotion, thereby putting the UFC and Strikeforce under the same ownership banner.
For the UFC promotion, a sample of 15 fight cards were examined, in which 326 payouts (also known as a fighter's "purse") were made to fighters; fighter salaries for 13 UFC fight cards during this timeframe could not be located. For the Strikeforce promotion, a sample of 8 fight cards were examined, with 156 payouts. For Strikeforce, two payouts were discarded from the analysis (one in which the majority of the payout was reportedly given to charity and second of which was paid in advance of the competition), rendering this portion of the sample to 154 (Total N = 480).
Analyses for this article will compare 18 cases specific to female fighters, all in the Strikeforce promotion, in comparison to their male counterparts in Strikeforce (N = 136) and in comparison to the combined cases of males from the Strikeforce and UFC promotions (N = 462). There are a few important limitations to these methods. First, the public compensation made to fighters within the UFC promotion (as noted by commenters in the first article using this data set noted) does not include "backstage/locker room" bonuses that are given to select fighters by management. Nor does the data set include possible royalties that elite fighters may secure from pay-per-view buys, DVD sales, etc. (which would expand the stratification among fighters since lower-tier fighters would likely not secure such compensation). Finally, reflecting gender stratification, the sample size for female fighters is very small.
As noted previously, among male athletes in the total sample (UFC and Strikeforce fighters) payouts ranged from $940 to $500,000. For female athletes (only Strikeforce fighters), payouts ranged from $1,000 to $125,000. Among the male sample, however, there were 34 cases in which males made at least $200,000 for one competition (30 cases specific to the UFC and 4 specific to Strikeforce). When only examining the male cases specific to the Strikeforce promotion, payouts ranged from $400,000 at the top (paid to Fedor Emelianenko in his loss to Fabricio Werdum) to $940. The following figures display the measures of central tendency and variance for the total sample of males (UFC and Strikeforce males combined), Strikeforce males, and Strikeforce females.
All males (N = 462)
Strikeforce males (N = 136)
All/Strikeforce females (N = 18)
The mean in all analyses is skewed heavily by outliers where fighters secured especially large purses relative to their co-workers. The median is a better measure of central tendency, and it is clear that the addition of UFC males to Strikeforce males alters the male sample, with the median standing substantially higher at $20,000. When comparing Strikeforce females with their male counterparts, the median is exactly the same, illustrating a degree of parity in compensation between the men and women.
However, it is also important to examine the standard deviation, which indicates the average dispersion from the mean. For Strikeforce males, the standard deviation is $57,608; for females it is much less, at $29,379. This means even though the standard deviation is quite large for the female sample, on average, female fighters tend to make more similar purses than men in the Strikeforce promotion.
Because the female sample is so small, it is useful to present all 18 cases:
Clearly this sample (both the mean and standard deviation) is skewed by Carano's purse of $125,000, which she earned in losing to Cris Santos. In fact, Carano's purse is more than 3.5 times higher than the next highest purse of $35,000 given to Cris Santos twice, and notably in both of those cases, Santos earned $15,000 to show, $15,000 to win, and a $5,000 championship bonus, so her income level was not guaranteed. If Carano's purse is omitted from the sample the mean drops to $10,232 and the standard deviation drops to $11,815 (the median only drops to $4,000).
Keeping Carano's salary of $125,000 in the female sample, a comparison of means was made between male and female Strikeforce fighters, and the differences were not statistically significant. Furthermore, even when omitting Carano's salary, a comparison of means between Strikeforce male and female fighters did not yield statistically significant results.
Thus, at least within the Strikeforce promotion, the data show that women were not paid less than men to a level that reached statistical significance prior to the promotion being subsumed by Zuffa. Still, a simple glance at the salaries illustrates the extensive range in salaries (high stratification) among female fighters, and the same is true for males.
Carano's status as both an accomplished fighter and a sex symbol in the MMA game and broader popular culture at the time, clearly leveraged her more power to garner the disproportionate purse. One might argue that Carano made a "patriarchal bargain" to secure her lucrative contract. As Wade notes, "A patriarchal bargain is a decision to accept gender rules that disadvantage women in exchange for whatever power one can wrest from the system. It is an individual strategy designed to manipulate the system to one’s best advantage, but one that leaves the system itself intact."
Without question, Carano's emphasized femininity outside of sport increased her value within a sport that is particularly male-heavy (from ownership, through management, referees, athletes, and fans). This does not detract from Carano's general success as a competitor who was undefeated prior to squaring off with Santos. However, if sporting value is contingent predominantly (or at least largely) upon athletic success, one might rightfully ask why Santos continues to make so much less in comparison since defeating Carano. Additionally, Carano's participation in MMA (significant as it is) has not altered the sport's gender order.
Additionally, the data supports a question asked previously – how will Zuffa value female fighters in the future, in particular after female fighters' contracts expire. At least from a statistical standpoint, Srikeforce compensated the female fighters on their cards as a whole on par with their male fighters. This does not necessarily mean every individual fighter (male or female) was compensated fairly (fair pay encompasses a number of subjective factors). However, looking at the Strikeforce female and male groups, there was a degree of parity in compensation.
Will female fighters under Zuffa continue to be compensated with a degree of parity in the near future while contracts are still being honored? If not, why not? And in the long-term future, the bigger question is what will happen to women's MMA in general? Within the United States will women's MMA be limited to Bellator and regional promotions? Or will we see some of the more exciting competitions that women's MMA has provided for MMA fans in Strikeforce and the UFC? I'm hoping for the latter. And if the latter does come to fruition, that female fighters aren't making "$0.70 for every males' dollar."
UFC Sample (N = 326)
Strikeforce Sample (N = 154)
When examining data related to income, the mean (mathematical average) is frequently a deceiving measure because it is skewed by outliers, such as the $500,000 payouts to Toney and Liddell. Thus, the mean figures for all three samples, while informative, do not offer the best measure that typifies MMA fighters’ purses.
In fact, the standard deviation is an indication of how widely the cases in each sample are dispersed from the mean. Because the standard deviation is large for each sample, we can say with greater clarity that the mean does not accurately represent on average what MMA fighters in these promotions earn.
A better indicator of average income data is the median, which stood at $20,000 for the total sample, $27,000 for the UFC sample, and $4,500 for the Strikeforce sample. Obviously, by examining any measure, one can see that UFC fighters tend to earn more income than Strikeforce fighters, and this difference is statistically significant at the .001 level (which is highly significant).
Perhaps, however, a more interesting analysis of this data entails examining how many fighters fall into different brackets of income level per fight. The following numbers represent the number of fighters earning purses within six income brackets:
To put this into perspective, 35.2% of the cases in the sample earned $10,000 or less per fight; 15.6% of the sample earned $4,000 or less per fight. On the other end of the extreme, 17.1% of the sample earned $90,000 or more per fight. Only 34 cases (7.1% of the sample) earned $200,000 or more per fight.
Within the MMA industry, status clearly plays a major role in fighters’ ability to leverage resources. James Toney is a professional athlete with an extensive professional boxing history, but who had literally no professional MMA experience. Yet, his boxing status enabled him to leverage a $500,000 payday despite losing very decisively to Randy Couture.
One then must ask, did Toney’s mere participation on a pay-per-view MMA competition yield significantly increased pay-per-view buys? If not, this certainly calls into question the fairness of Toney earning so much to lose so decisively when other, more capable and experienced MMA fighters produce more competitive fights.
These data also dispel any assumptions that most MMA fighters earn lucrative incomes as professional athletes. While it is true, most MMA fighters augment their competition purses with income through teaching combat sport classes and possibly by securing sponsorships, that supplementary income is not especially large, in particular for those fighters who do not have high status.
Furthermore, following competitions when fighters have received their purse money, they typically must distribute portions of it to their trainers, nutritionists, cornermen, and whoever else helped them prepare for the competition. One can see how fast the purse money would disintegrate if a fighter earned $10,000 or less for a competition (recall, that is approximately one third of the entire sample).
It is not terribly surprising that MMA fighters do not have collective bargaining rights, given that the sport is still less than two decades old. However, it is somewhat surprising that MMA fighters are not taking initial steps to organize so that they may secure collective rights in the near future.
As the situation currently stands, fighters are essentially at odds with one another in what is known as a “split labor market,” where those who rely on their bodies as labor within a capitalist system compete with each other to assert their value. This is commonly seen as a “divide and conquer” system that privileges management over workers.
The next series of articles relying on this data set will examine female fighters’ earned income relative to males’, as well as the impact incentive bonuses have within the UFC sample.
Photo via BloodyElbow.com.
Focusing on a perspective against gay marriage:
Although she wasn't a celebrity a few days ago, a student at UCLA, Alexandra Wallace has become something of a name for a really unfortunate anti-Asian video she posted to YouTube, "Asians in the Library," in which she makes the mocking "ching-chong" phony Chinese sound and makes a comment about how Asians in the library are irritating her even if they're getting news about their relatives "back home" after the tsunami.
What is it about this horrible disaster and the tragic aftermath -- we're on the brink of a nuclear meltdown, hello -- that is bringing out such stupid reactions?
Clinton called the situation "alarming" and said Bahrain and neighbors were on "the wrong track" by trying to quell unrest with troops instead of reform. Bahrain's majority Shia population has been chafing for years under the absolute rule of a Sunni monarchy and, emboldened by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, has begun to more forcefully call for changes.
"We have deplored the use of force," Clinton told reporters in Cairo before flying to Tunis. "We have said not only to the Bahrainis but to our Gulf partners that we do not think security is the answer to what is going on."
Vershbow and Shapiro both stressed that bolstering Saudi Arabia's own defense capabilities would improve U.S. security in a vital part of the world where fears are growing over Iran's nuclear program.
"This is not solely about Iran," Shapiro said. "It's about helping the Saudis with their legitimate security needs ... they live in a dangerous neighborhood and we are helping them preserve and protect their security."
Vershbow said the sale would improve Saudi Arabia's ability to coordinate with the United States on shared security challenges "so it means we may have to station fewer forces on a continuing basis in the region."
Now in the video, below, we go through process of getting Jones' z score and then locating it within the standard normal table to check for statistical significance. In the video, we will see that Jones' time, relative to her peers is statistically significant at the threshold of 0.05. What about at 0.01? And what does this mean?
Now in the video, below, we go through process of getting Bolt's z score and then locating it within the standard normal table to check for statistical significance. In the video, we will see that Bolt's time, relative to his peers is statistically significant at the threshold of 0.05. What about at 0.01?
The Fighter: Bob Probert
Bob Probert, who died last summer from heart failure at the age of 45, was notorious for his brutal style of hockey, which included 246 fights with other N.H.L. players over his 16-year career. But these altercations may have also contributed to his chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, which was diagnosed after his death. While the N.H.L. has taken recent steps to reduce brain trauma, it has preserved the league-sanctioned fighting that many argue is part of the sport’s tradition and appeal. Players such as Probert, known as each team’s “enforcer,” continue to be employed, and often admired. The following YouTube videos are a sampling of Probert’s many fights [note: only one shown here].
All boxers, are what they call, figure of speech: they’re fucked over. You know, you see, they’re pimps, the promoters, you know. And boxers is like the whores, you know, so you pimp him. Yeah, that’s the way that go, I’m pretty sure. They don’t really have the bes’ interes’ in the fighter, you know. They jus’ goin’ for the gusto, the gusto is the money. (dejected but matterof-fact) They jus’ goin’ for the money. (p. 182).
If you go in dere with a nice tough fight, man, rewar’ dis man. I tol’, I saw Highmower fight dis boy, man, man! (chuckle) I hated fightin’, I hated boxin’ ever since, I’m serious. Because, Louie, (incensed) Highmower an’ dat boy nearly killed each other. Man, d’ crowd wen’ crazy, Ralph [the matchmaker] – I’s, I’s like, ‘Look at dis shit!’ Boy, this is slavery all over again. I mean, look at dis shit! Dese men is seriously killin’ each other for (lowering his voice and whispering in joint disbelief and disgust) for a hun’red dollars (stressing each word to dramatize his point) Highmower-cut, that-man-cut, they-all-wen’-down, three-an’-four-time-a-piece. Botha’em wen’ to d’hospital, fer what, fer two hun’red dollars, hun’red each man? I said (shaking his head vigorously), ‘No, that ain’t – tha’s not right.’ (p.183).
Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, generally occur when the head either spins rapidly or accelerates quickly and then stops — like when a player tackles another player on the field. The National Football League and Congress have both held hearings on the head injuries, which can cause memory loss, confusion, nausea, blurred vision and long-term neurological effects, including symptoms of dementia, headaches and concentration problems.
Both of these social problems can be seen in FX’s recent boxing television series, "Lights Out," where the protagonist boxer must weigh his lost wealth, decreased status, and emerging family crises as he risks his mental and physical health in the ring:
But it's time to ask whether sports in this country are like oil in the Middle East and Africa. We think sports are making us rich, but are they really making us poor, by keeping us from doing other things that might matter as much or more in the long run? It's an uncomfortable question, but as a fan myself, I have to ask.