When Thomas Almeida won a $50,000 bonus for his Fight of the Night performance against Tim Gorman at UFC Fight Night 56 in November, he didn’t announce he was going to Disneyland. Nor does he intend to go on a wild spending spree, jump the first flight to an exotic locale, or buy a lavish engagement ring for a girl. No, Almeida told MMA Junkie instead that “My plan is to invest it. I’m thinking of buying an apartment so I can have my own home. I want to be able to live on my own, and enjoy life.”

That’s a promising statement from a young fighter. MMA careers are short, and the money, outside of top-tier guys, isn’t what many expect. There’s a limited window for fighters to really cash in as a result. Now, there has been plenty of debate about the MMA pay scale, both inside the UFC and out. Leaving that debate at the door, however, and seeing a fighter, a young one who may or may not make it to the championship level some day, treat his money wisely is a welcome change. More importantly, Almeida is not alone.

Paige Van Zant turned heads last month as well, as the UFC’s third youngest fighter (second youngest in the women’s division) also won a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus. At just twenty years old, she was too young to join the cast of The Ultimate Fighter 20, as the TUF house where athletes stay tends to have alcohol present (America’s drinking age is, of course, a world-high twenty-one). So, instead of funneling her through The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC wisely opted to sign her directly to the promotion, and gave her a fight prior to TUF 20’s finale.

The gamble paid offVan Zant finished another promising young strawweight, Kailin Curran, in the third round at UFC Fight Night 57. And, like Almeida, she has no plans on blowing the money picked up in the Fight of the Night bonus. Van Zant told Fox Sports that that she has her life planned out, including the goal of owning a home by the time she’s twenty-four. $50,000 is certainly a good start towards that.

This is a promising trend and hopefully more young fighters will follow suit. We’ve all heard the horror stories of Mike Tyson being picked clean by those around him, and of fighters living in excess and blowing through cash quicker than they can bring it in. And while there will always be fighters who like to live in the moment, the best bet for many is to invest that money.

It’s not a sexy topic, but for fighters, it’s key to their future.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.