Las Vegas, NV — Cheyanne Buys stole the show in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 33, a position she wasn’t even supposed to be in.
Buys’ scrap against Gloria de Paula, which she finished via head kick (plus some follow up strikes), was originally positioned further down Saturday’s card. But when fight after fight fell out of the co-headlining position, the strawweights got the nod.
The win also secured her a Performance of the Night bonus, a huge reward following what Buys described as a big risk. Buys and husband JP packed up their entire life and made the move to Las Vegas ahead of UFC Vegas 33. In order to secure a home, Buys had to take out a loan.
“I knew coming here tonight that my whole paycheck was just going to go back to that loan. I took a big risk to get a big reward,” she said following the fight, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “I can’t thank my team, my husband, my family [enough], ’cause they were the ones that said ‘listen, you’re going to have to go broke for a little bit just to get something good from this.'”
Buys had wanted to move back to Vegas a long time ago, she said, but trying to leave Dallas, Texas was a little difficult. It was safe, she said, to try to stay and stick it out. She’d originally gone there for visa purposes, after heading to South Africa to be with her husband years earlier. “But that place wasn’t my home. I missed my team, I missed Xtreme Couture. I owe everything to them and my husband.”
It worked out in the end. “Knowing I got my boys back behind me, I felt unstoppable.”
The impact the $50,000 Performance bonus will have on Buys’ life cannot be overstated. “I am negative in my account right now, so it’s going to make a big difference.” Her whole paycheck, she said, will go towards paying back the $15,000 loan she took from a few people prior to moving to Vegas. “I made 10 and 10 [$10,000 to show, another $10,000 to win] for my win and show, so that $20,000 was just gone,” explained Buys. “And I was okay with it, I was okay if I won and that check was gone, because I made the move out here, and I knew that this fight was just going to be for this move, but it was the best decision me and my husband made for our careers.”
“Just to get that bonus— I’ve been so broke my whole life because of this sport, but it’s so worth it to me, because I love this sport,” she continued. “But to get a $50,000 paycheck— my husband’s going to tell me to put it away, I’m definitely going to want to buy some nice stuff. I’d like to buy a little bit of things for the house, and for my animals, I’d really like to spoil my family. But this week I’m definitely going to take my team for a nice dinner.”
“It’s life changing for sure, but I’ve just got to put the money away and just go out there and fight again.”
Buys’ comments have already put the spotlight back on fighter pay once again — an issue that has plagued the sport. The UFC, as the leading promotion in the business, take the lion’s share of the revenue in comparison to what athletes make in other sports. But thanks to a high-profile win, Buys has hopefully set herself up for greater success, financially, down the road.
Watch the full UFC Vegas 33 post-fight press conference with Cheyanne Buys above.