Morning Report: Sam Alvey reflects on UFC start, says fighters get paid ‘way more than we deserve’

Sam Alvey has no complaints about how he was treated in the UFC.

BJ Penn and Tony Ferguson are tied for the longest losing streak in promotional history at seven. However, they’re no match for Alvey’s nine-fight stretch without a win to close out his UFC tenure in 2022. Despite the optics of that stretch, the “Smilin’” one remained competitive, for the most part, with a pair of split-decision losses mixed in and a split draw against Da Un Jung separating his four-fight skids.

Alvey, 37, has since gone on to get back in the win column with a third-round TKO of Cameron Graham at B2 Fighting Series 183 in May 2023. Later that year, Alvey joined Karate Combat and won two fights to become the heavyweight champion. In hindsight looking back on his 24-fight UFC career (10-13-1, 34–18–1, 1 NC overall), Alvey believes he was treated appropriately in the endless debate around fighter pay.

“The UFC pays us way more than we deserve,” Alvey told Ultimate Punching. “You have some of the superstars like the [Justin] Gaethje’s and the [Max] Holloway’s and the Jon Jones’, those guys get paid what they get paid. But most of the card gets paid way more than we’re worth.”

Alvey’s sentiment comes after the historic UFC 300 card this past weekend that saw the fight bonuses raised from the usual $50,000 to $300,000. Earning himself Fight of the Night honors along with a Performance of the Night, Holloway took home double the bonus payout thanks to his legendary fifth-round knockout of Gaethje in their BMF title clash.

The UFC has grown tremendously since Alvey joined the roster through The Ultimate Fighter 16 (TUF) in 2014. Even 10 years ago, Alvey felt bewildered by the compensation and treatment he received after his MFC title run in Canada.

“My first win in the UFC was over in Australia,” Alvey said. “They flew me and my corner out there, and then they flew my opponent, his corner out there. We got off the plane, they gave us $1000, they get off the plane, give them $1000.

“We did the math and by the end of our fight, the UFC probably spent $50,000 to $70,000 on our fight and didn’t make a penny off us. I mean, nobody tuned in to watch ‘Smilin’’ Sam Alvey. Nobody tuned in to watch Dylan Andrews. They still paid me $70,000, or they paid ‘us,’ to have us fight, $70,000. It’s a crazy amount. We did nothing to deserve that.”

Alvey’s UFC debut was actually a unanimous decision loss to Tom Watson at UFC Fight Night 47 in Bangor, Maine, but that was 10 years ago, so we understand the misremembering. Andrews was his sophomore appearance in the octagon where he scored a first-round knockout.

As UFC CEO Dana White infamously said, fighting in the UFC is “not a career. This is an opportunity,” after all. Alvey did his best to capitalize on that with every risk he felt the promotion took on him.

“They paid that with the hopes we’d become the Max Holloway’s or the Conor McGregor’s, or ‘Smilin’’ Sam, like I eventually did,” Alvey continued. “But they’re putting a big bet on that in the beginning.

“As you rise in the rankings, they pay you more and more and more. Now, people also overestimate how many people watch the UFC. We are still — as much as I have made in my career, my passion, and my love, and I’m surrounded by UFC — it is still such a small sport in the grand scheme of things. The biggest event you could ever imagine, which was Conor vs. Khabib [Nurmagomedov], they fit it in the MGM, there was like 15,000 to 17,000 people there. In a mid-season worthless game, the NBA has close to 50,000 people there. It’s ridiculous to compare the sports. They’re paying us more than fair and they’re taking a big risk with every fighter they have.”

For one more note of clarity, UFC 229 headlined by Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor in October 2018 took place inside the T-Mobile Arena with a 20,034 capacity. On average, NBA team arenas fit 20,000 people as well, and the UFC even holds events in them more often than not. UFC 299 last month, for example, was in the Kaseya Center where the Miami Heat play.

Alvey has gone on record since his Karate Combat debut, sharing that he made more money in his Karate Combat debut than in his UFC debut thanks to the pay structure. Alvey’s knockout win over Adam Rosa in said fight made him “three times” what he would have because of the finish bonus incentivized by the promotion.

Confidence. Ilia Topuria wants Max Holloway at The Sphere, but only if ‘BMF’ title is on the line: ‘I will be the first one to take his lights out

Matchmaking. Mike Perry claims Darren Till turned down ‘over $2 million’ offer to fight him: ‘What is he doing?

Nope. Charles Oliveira thought Arman Tsarukyan went out in D’Arce choke attempt at UFC 300

Triple. Manager explains why Alex Pereira won’t fight at UFC 301, discusses potential fight with Tom Aspinall

Location. UFC heads to Louisville for Fight Night card on June 8

Defense. Max Holloway labels Conor McGregor rematch as ‘hugest fight’ after BMF title win

The MMA Hour.

Gosling learns the RNC.

Free fight.

PFL Fight Week.

Usman’s UFC 300 BTS.

Wonderboy breaks down Pereira’s KO.

Fancy arm triangles.

Go to Twitter, use the #MorningReport hashtag, or find one of my tweets with it, and drop me a jam you’re currently really into. I’ll pick the best one alongside my daily choice and give you a shoutout! You can also share in the comments below — those are just harder to sift through sometimes!

Comeback trail.


Worked out.

The boys.

Volk is the best.

To the rescue.


Randy Brown (18-5) vs. Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos (24-7-1); UFC 302, June 1

Niko Price (15-7, 2 NC) vs. Alex Morono (24-9, 1 NC); UFC 302, June 1

Daniel Marcos (15-0) vs. John Castaneda (21-6); UFC Louisville, June 8

Itsuki Hirata (6-3) vs. Victoria Souza (7-2); ONE 167, June 8

Jeka Saragih (14-3) vs. Westin Wilson (16-9); UFC Vegas 93, June 15

Joe Pyfer (12-3) vs. Marc-André Barriault (16-7); UFC 303, June 29

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Volkanovski anymore, he goes and makes that hilarious video. Perma-champ.

Thanks for reading!


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