Contrary to belief among fans of the sport, life as a UFC fighter isn't all that glamorous.
An athlete signing with the pinnacle promotion in mixed martial arts is one thing but the work doesn't stop once you're there.
Simply put, if you're not fighting, you're not getting paid. And it's not like in boxing, where your pay is agreed before the fight. Lose, and you get half your possible sum.
City Kickboxing coach Eugene Bareman trains most of the country's UFC fighters and told the Herald on Sunday UFC fighting is not what people think.
"The part they see is [glamorous] — it's like lights, camera, action. The reality is you have to get yourself up to quite a decent level before you can make a living off it, even in the UFC. You've got to keep winning. If you keep winning, your pay goes up and your contract is renewed. There's so much pressure on these young guys."
Israel Adesanya picked up his full amount yesterday with a dominant points win over American Brad Tavares in Las Vegas. The victory in the night's main bout was the Nigerian-born New Zealander's third in the UFC and improved his career record to 14-0.
But Kiwi featherweight Shane Young, who also trains with Bareman, said the smallest of margins can cost fighters in a big way at professional level.
"It could come down to if I lifted your leg up and you fell over because you slipped and you got up straight away but just because
of that, you could lose half your money," he said.
Young had his life changed overnight in Singapore last month. His knockout win over Rolando Dy of the Philippines at a UFC Fight Night earned him Performance of the Night — worth $50,000.
"I'm just blessed that I even had the opportunity to do that in fighting. I just fight, I just knocked some dude out and I got paid and my life changed for it.
"People like to think that 'man, you made 50 grand overnight'. But I didn't make 50 grand overnight. If you look at my pay grade, even since I turned professional when I was 19, I've been doing this for five years. If you look at the money I've made in five years, you'd be like, 'you should be dead, no one can live off that much money'. No one knows the struggle except the people who've been in it."
Young, 1-1 since making his UFC debut in late 2017 and 11-4 in his career, said with New Zealand being well represented in MMA — not just in the UFC — he was hoping fighters might attract more sponsors.
The 24-year-old made a strong case for himself in Singapore, sending Dy to the canvas with a heavy elbow shot in the second round.
"It was good to get the result, to get the knockout. It just wasn't up to the level I'm capable of. I know that," Young said.
"I got a knockout, you can't be not happy with that. It doesn't have to be 100 per cent perfect but there were big things that watching that fight, I'm thinking that looks like me from 2014, not 2018 — but that's all good because 2014 Shane can still get that knockout."
Young became the first UFC fighter to fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and delivered a kōrero in his post-fight interview. At the weekend, fellow Kiwi Jay-Jay Wilson also flew the Tino Rangatiratanga in his debut with the Bellator promotion, in which he took a first-round win by submission.