When Alpar (9-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) woke up Wednesday morning, she didn’t expect that her name would be in the headlines by afternoon time. She also didn’t expect a direct message from a YouTube celebrity turned boxer in her direct messages. But thanks to Paul and Triller, both of those unexpected things happened.
“I don’t know what to say,” Alpar told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “No one has ever done something like that for me before. And it was just so simple for him. I don’t know. I’d say everything, all the things, and none of the things at all because I’m awkward. Like, ‘I’m just so grateful. And plus ‘I can’t believe you found me’.”
A 30-year-old stepmother of one and a UFC flyweight fighter, Alpar was at a bit of a loss. With multiple fight cancellations leading to paychecks missed out on, Alpar created a GoFundMe to assist with expenses that were preventing her from being a “full-time” fighter.
She set the goal at $30,000 – a mark she hoped to achieve by Dec. 1. But Alpar reached the mark with five months to spare with a $5,000 donation from Paul and $25,000 more from “Lisa Ferguson,” which Triller later claimed was a sum of money put forth on its behalf.
“I was just trying to get my friends and family and whoever else to kind of help me in an easy way, like donations,” Alpar said. “Now it’s turned into this big giant thing. It’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, wow.”
It’s been a rough nine months for Alpar since she lost her promotional debut in September 2020. Three scheduled bouts fell through and thus some sponsorship opportunities were lost, too. With no fight night paychecks coming in, Alpar works as a barista to help pay the bills for her family of three. On top of all that, Alpar is a student, too.
It’s a juggling act – and not one she faults the UFC for, considering it’s paid her the most of any promotion. In general, Alpar thinks mixed martial arts pay culture needs to change so that fighters are able to focus on their athletic careers solely.
“But what sucks is like you have this purse and you get this fight or you have sponsorship and you need to make that last,” Alpar said. “So you get this on the front end and you need to organize all that and make that last so you can do it again. But then when something like this happens. I really was like, even for a show purse, to go in and make weight, I didn’t get anything. So it’s like you put in all these hours and all this work and I got nothing for it and now I have to wait and do it again. And I’m not the only one who goes through that. It happens all the time and just all of the fighters. I feel like just the way the system is could be different. What if we got paid monthly? Maybe people would like train one very thing. That would be kind of cool.”
As Alpar referenced, financial struggles for the entry-level UFC fighters is not unique to her. Fighters working a job outside of the cage is not uncommon – an occurrence that differs from that of many other professional sports. Nutritious food, gym fees, travel expenses, supplements, and more – the list goes on and on for out-of-pocket costs for fighters.
“Your nutrition and meal prepping and your strength and conditioning and following a decent sleep schedule, all that it is full time between what I’m doing now and my job and my schooling,” Alpar said. “This is just summer I measured out, and I was getting over 65 hours was what I’d been putting in on stuff. It’s just like things are full-time. I think fighters, if they’re ready to go in, they need to make sure they do have a plan and they need to be ready to go and go for and then to have that support.”
As for where she goes from here, Alpar has a fight scheduled for Sept. 18 against promotional debutant Erin Blanchfield. Despite her need for MMA funding, Alpar feels somewhat bad blowing off her current barista gig. With enough funding for her training camp, Alpar needs to make some decisions – ones that she didn’t think she’d have the opportunity to make until Paul came along.
“I need to figure out now what’s the next step is here, because now I have opportunity,” Alpar said. “Do I just, like, quit and go two feet in and just do it and see if maybe it works? Will I have a backup plan? I always like to plan ahead. This is kind of just like, ‘Here it is.’ And then just get by by the seat of my pants. But I mean, if I have the opportunity to train full-time to my fullest and to be able to travel where I need to and get training partners and to get better and to make that happen, I need to (figure out) what’s the best situation (or) scenario to do this? But I still want to be respectful to my position now because I have morals. You just do stuff like that, you know?”