Sarah Alpar isn’t sure how she’d react if she met Jake Paul in person.
Alpar (9-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had no idea when she woke up Wednesday morning that her name would be all over the news by the afternoon.
She didn’t expect to get a direct message from a YouTube celebrity-turned-boxer in her direct messages, either. But, owing to Paul and Triller, both of those things came to pass.
“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’.”
Alpar, a 30-year-old stepmother with one child and a UFC flyweight competitor, was at a loss.
Alpar launched a GoFundMe to help with expenditures that were preventing her from becoming a “full-time” fighter due to repeated bout cancellations and missing payouts.
She established a target of $30,000, which she wanted to reach by December 1.
After a $5,000 gift from Paul and another $25,000 from “Lisa Ferguson,” which Triller subsequently claimed was an amount of money put out on its behalf, Alpar met the goal with five months to spare.
“I was simply trying to gather my friends, family, and anyone else who could support me in a simple way, like donations,” Alpar explained. “Now it’s grown into a huge, colossal beast. ‘Oh, my god, wow,’ it’s like.
Since losing her promotional debut in September 2020, Alpar has had a difficult nine months. Three scheduled bouts were canceled, resulting in the loss of certain sponsorship chances.
Alpar works as a barista to help support her three-person family. Alpar is also a student on top of it all.
It’s a balancing act she doesn’t blame on the UFC, which has paid her the most of any company. Alpar believes that the MMA fighter pay culture has to alter in order for fighters to be able to focus exclusively on their in-ring careers.
“However, what hurts is that you have this purse, and you have this fight or sponsorship, and you have to make that last,” Alpar explained.
“So you receive this up front, and you have to manage everything and make it last so you can do it again. But then something like this occurs, and I’m like, even for a show handbag, I didn’t receive anything because I didn’t make weight. So it’s as if you put in all these hours and effort for nothing, and now you have to wait and do it all over again. And I’m not the only one that experiences this. It happens all the time, and I believe the system as a whole should be improved. What if we were paid on a monthly basis? Perhaps others would like to learn how to do just that. That would be a lot of fun.”
Financial difficulties for entry-level UFC fighters are not unique to her, as Alpar mentioned.
It is not unusual for fighters to work a job outside of the ring, which is not the case in many other professional sports.
Out-of-pocket costs for fighters include nutritious meals, gym memberships, travel expenses, supplements, and more.
“Your nutrition and food preparing, as well as your strength and conditioning and sticking to a reasonable sleep pattern, are all full-time between what I’m doing now, my work, and my schooling,” Alpar explained.
“I metered out this summer and I was receiving over 65 hours for what I was putting in on everything. It’s as though everything is on full tilt. Fighters, if they’re ready to go in, should make sure they have a strategy in place, and they should be ready to go for it and have that support.”
Alpar’s next bout is planned for Sept. 18 against Erin Blanchfield, who is making her professional debut.
Despite her need for MMA cash, Alpar feels guilty about quitting her present barista job.
Alpar needs to make some decisions now that she has enough money for her training camp – decisions she didn’t believe she’d have until Paul came along.
“I need to figure out what the next step is now that I have this opportunity,” Alpar explained.
“Do I simply give up and jump in with both feet, just to see if it works?” Will I have a contingency plan? I’m a big fan of planning ahead. This is similar to saying, “Here it is.”
“Then I’m simply flying by the seat of my trousers. But, if I have the chance to train full-time to my full potential, travel where I need to, find training partners, and improve, and make it happen, I need to (determine) what is the ideal circumstance (or) scenario to do so. But, because I have morals, I still want to be respectful of my position. You don’t simply do things like that, right?”