According to Dictionary.com, a tip is defined as:
a small present of money given directly to someone for performing a service; gratuity
The barista messed up your latte, again. You asked for no mushrooms in your veggie burrito, but it was stuffed with spongy fungus. The gold-medal package you ordered at the car wash barely made the podium. In each of these instances, societal norms expect you to enter service-based businesses with an unspoken contract: an additional percentage will be added to the receipt’s subtotal; the scale slides up and down, but the needle typically begins pointing anywhere between fifteen and twenty percent. Contrary to the above situations, an MMA event glows in HD, quenching fans’ primal thirst of competition with a service delivered by no other sport. A thrilling knockout or surprise submission removes you from your seat. The surge coursing through the veins of MMA fans in these moments is best summed up by Sam Sheridan in A Fighter’s Heart (2008) when he wrote,
There was nothing more noble. That boys should worship fighters was as unquestioned as patriotism, bred into the fabric of masculinity. (p. 4)
Until recently, the thought of tipping professional entertainers, MMA or otherwise, never entered the realm of possibility! Why not these individuals? They stand under everyone’s critical eye, put their hearts on their sleeves, and attempt to deliver performances of a lifetime. Now, Tip A Fighter has positioned a jar within reach, accessible to all who look into a cage from the outside.
Bubba Jenkins, a professional mixed martial artist, decided to morph the question: Why not? into an actionable line of attack: Why not… Establishing Tip A Fighter (link here), Jenkins suggested the wow factor pushing patrons to up the ante when filling out the line of gratuity at a coffee shop, restaurant, or car wash may match that of an MMA enthusiast who witnessed a spectacular display of gamesmanship. As a guest on episode 75 of the SFLC Podcast (link here), Jenkins detailed how Tip A Fighter works for all stakeholders: promoters, fighters, and fans.
Of course, whatever the promotion: RFA, Bellator MMA, ONE Championship, Titan FC, Invicta FC, Combate Americas, Legacy, UFC, and on and on the worldwide list unfurls, there is a vested interest in their fighters’ happiness and well-being, except, truth is, the fighters aren’t always the primary focus. Slaving away at the grindstone, a promotion doesn’t want to be bothered by the demands of various sponsors. No matter which promotion a Tip A Fighter athlete is featured, the only toes stepped on are locked inside the cage with foot stomps,
“We stayed on the good side of all the promotions. We’re not saying to the promotions, ‘Hey, you need to pay your fighters more, and we’re going to help out with that.’ We’re not saying that at all. We’re just saying that this is a good way to feature fighters as being exciting; they can go out there and try to knock someone’s head off. Every promotion wants their guys to go out there and risk it, put it on the line, be a little bit more marketable. With this, you can do that!”
No extra work with happier fighters; a promotion unhappy with such circumstances may be the only time fighters are encouraged by fans to not step into the cage, play their walkout music in reverse, and return to the backstage area.
The buck doesn’t have to stop at the bell. A fighter associated with Tip A Fighter can continue to collect long after regulation. Jenkins, from a sponsor’s perspective, described Tip A Fighter as a tool to fatten your pocketbook, but he, as a client, exclaimed how Tip A Fighter allows you to zero in on your fans like focus mitts,
“…[O]nce we send our fighters a check at the end of every month, they’ll be able to see who tipped them [and] where they’re from because we’re global. I’ve gotten tips from Russia; I’ve gotten tips from China. As a fighter, you can really hone in on who your true fans are and where you are really big. And try to make those people feel special by shouting them out, giving them shorts, sending them autographs, and all kinds of memorabilia.”
Immediately, some fighters may arch their brow, questioning the list of requirements on their end. It turns out, much of what fighters currently share with their audience via social media correlates precisely with Tip A Fighter’s ideals,
“We’re not asking our fighters and people who sign up with TipAFighter to Tweet 700 times a week. There’s no real obligations. It’s all self-motivated. If you want the fans to know where you are and how they can support you, you’re going to do what you can to do that: videos, Instagram, Periscope; things like that.”
Jenkins advised his comrades: Tips are accepted but never expected. In fact, the greater the workload exerted by the fighter, in and out of the cage, parallels the growth of his/her Tip A Fighter account,
“If you don’t let people know you’re there, and you only make five dollars on your tips, it’s going to be your fault because nobody knows, especially if you do something exciting. You want people to go to TipAFighter to support you.”
Double the tax, an age-old practice, to determine an approximation of the standardized fifteen percent, and a similar equation has been calculated as a share between Tip A Fighter and their sponsored athletes. Seems fair enough to share fifteen percent with a sponsor willing to travel the globe for you.
Walking into the office on Monday morning, you can’t shake a weekend packed with bloodstained mats and fist flying action. You’ve Tweeted, posted, shared, liked and commented on the various platforms available, spreading the word as Paul Revere would on horseback. What more can be done? Jenkins added,
“The MMA fans who love these guys and support these guys have to let these guys know, ‘I want to support you by sending some money your way.’”
“You go to TipAFighter dot com; you look at our roster; you check out the name that you want…[Y]ou look at their pictures…The biggest thing on their profile is: TIP THIS FIGHTER. The least amount of dollars you can tip is five bucks…[I]t basically goes to a Pay Pal transparency account.”
Weekends invite MMA fans to practice their own ‘sweet science,’ finding the perfect spot in their seat, only to repeat the process every time the hair-raising excitement of the sport uplifts them toward the heavens. Isn’t that what you tuned-in for? Mixed martial artists service the need for spine-tingling action, and Tip A Fighter allows an outlet where each enthused fan can compliment in a universal language: cash.
A freshly minted sponsor with a current roster of over twenty fighters, Jenkins didn’t balk at the notion of Tip A Fighter’s future including more than monetary gains alone. He concluded,
“We’re going to try to move with what works for the fighters, what works for the fans, and what works for the promotions because we see it as a win, win, win.”
Check out this episode of SFLC and others for yourself at:
Tip A Fighter’s roster currently includes:
MMA Roasted Podcast
Andrea “KGB” Lee
Cody “The Crow” Walker
Dong Hyun Kim “Stun Gun”
Dongi Yang “The Ox”
Doo Ho Choi
Isaac Valle Flagg
Mitch ‘Danger Zone’ Clarke
Mounir “The Sniper” Lazzez
Patricky “Pitbull” Freire
Seo Hee Ham
Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Ritch
Tae Hyun Bang “The Supernatural”
Tony Johnson Jr.
Andy ‘The Crasian’ Nguyen