Lance Palmer is happy in World Series of Fighting. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
As a rising star and champion fighting out of the respected Team Alpha Male camp, Lance Palmer’s mixed martial arts future appears to be bright indeed.
While some in his position might already be seeking the greener pastures of the UFC, Palmer is currently quite comfortable punching the clock in World Series of Fighting. The promotion’s featherweight champion recently re-upped with the Ray Sefo-led organization -- and with good reason. Right now, he says WSOF is compensating him better than what the UFC might offer a newcomer of his stature.
That, along with the UFC’s looming Reebok-sponsored outfitting policy, gives Palmer plenty of incentive to stay put.
“I just signed a four-fight deal with World Series of Fighting,” said Palmer, who defends his 145-pound belt against Chris Horodecki at WSOF 21 on June 5. “This would’ve been my last fight if I wouldn’t have re-signed with them. If the UFC was something that was close by on the horizon I’d be probably missing out on $7,500 to $8,000 in sponsors by the Reebok deal.
“The first five fights you only make $2,500 from Reebok. I would have been losing out on a good amount of money for sponsors,” he continued. “Also with the opening pay grade of the UFC, it wouldn’t have been anything like World Series is taking care of me right now. I’m happy with WSOF and what they’ve done so far. We have a great relationship, so I’m not looking past these next four fights. I’m looking forward to being a part of the organization.”
Palmer did not disclose his WSOF earnings, but a UFC newcomer generally stands to earn $8,000 to $10,000 in base salary per fight, although it could be more depending on the fighter’s level in the sport. For example, Octagon debutantes Islam Makhachev and Leo Kuntz were both slotted in the ”$10,000 show/$10,000 win” category at the recently-completed UFC 187 event.
Meanwhile, the UFC recently revealed the experienced-based payment tiers for the Reebok sponsorship deal, which will take effect ahead of UFC 189 in July. As Palmer pointed out, fighters with one to five bouts’ experience will make $2,500 per fight for wearing Reebok apparel at Fight Night and other UFC-affiliated events.
Palmer works hard to obtain the sponsors that he has and says that he does much of his own legwork in that process, eliminating the need for management as a middleman.
“Honestly I’ve gotten a lot of sponsors on my own,” Palmer said. “As far as the sponsorship goes and the management, you have to do a lot of your own work even if you do have managers. I’ve gotten almost all my own sponsors. It’s something that goes with the territory. If you want something done right, they say go out and do it yourself. I’ve kind of used that mantra. That’s how I’ve always been -- even before I started fighting.”
The key to getting a solid core of sponsors while fighting in a less-prestigious promotion? Palmer says it’s all about building relationships.
“Sponsors want to be in a relationship with the fighter. They don’t want to be in a relationship with the manager. They want the relationship where it’s like, ‘I know this guy. I’ve hung out with this guy or I’ve talked to this guy or we went out to dinner.’ They want that camaraderie. That’s the reason people sponsor you, really. To say, ‘I’ve sponsored this guy. My company was on TV on this guy’s shorts.’
“When it comes down to a real sponsorship, people just want to be seen and be out in the public eye. When it comes down to that you have a marketable person and sometimes that means going out and marketing yourself. Mangers can only market you so much.”