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7.1% – 11.7%

I know the pay issue has been run into the ground again and again, but every so often a number pops up that just makes you shake your head. Or in this case, a chart FULL of numbers. From MMA Payout:

The most immediate qualifier that must be offered concerning these figures is that the UFC regularly pays substantial undisclosed bonuses in the form of contractually specified pay-per-view bonuses and discretionary performance bonuses. Some of the contracts for the company’s top stars also reportedly include downside guarantees that significantly exceed their disclosed payouts.

However, it is also important to consider the other revenue streams not included in the above revenue estimates, including: closed circuit television, DVDs, video games, television rights fees, sponsorships, advertising, on-demand new media purchases, and other merchandising. Many of these revenue sources rely on the infamous ancillary rights clause found in the company’s standard contract. Per the clause, fighters essentially sign away the rights to their likeness and are not entitled to any compensation when it is used. The clause has been a source of contention in the company’s disputes with Randy Couture and Ortiz.

  • Houston “Glass Jaw” Alexander

    In fairness, we mustn’t overlook the fact that we are looking at *Gross Revenue*. You have to consider the huge costs incurred by putting on the events. The venues, the operations, all the staff to make it all happen. Biggest of all, I’m sure, is the advertising costs to promote the shows. Posters, internet advertising, television/print advertising. That sort of stuff is extremely expensive.

    I don’t refute that the UFC can probably afford to pay the fighters more, but I think it’s pointless to draw conclusions based on gross revenue when the net revenue will be significantly lower (just like the fighters actual earnings is higher than the reported earnings). We need more data to make fair judgement.

  • Teufel

    I seriously don’t understand why the fuck anyone cares what fighters earn. For any company, the employees do 90% of the work and only get 10% of the earnings. That’s just the way the business world works.

    If the fighters don’t like what UFC is offering, they don’t have to sign, they can sign elsewhere. That’s what a lot of guys are doing these days. Personally, I think anyone who complains about how much money OTHER PEOPLE are making need to get a fucking life. They aren’t starving on the streets, most of these guys make more in one fight than I do in a year, and I make a decent living.

  • Houston “Glass Jaw” Alexander

    @Tuefel: I partially agree with you. I definitely agree that if they don’t like their earnings, the onus is on them to deal with it themselves and not sign to contracts they are going to cry about afterward.

    However, I do recognize that the fighters starting out are going to sign anything they can to start making the name for themselves. And if you saw the breakdown of the purses from UFC 84, it was pretty brutal for the guys down in the list. Some making $3,000-$6,000 for a fight.

    That might seem like decent money, but when you can only do one fight every 3 or 4 months, it means you have to find another income to support it until you start making larger purses.

    Personally, I’d want a hell of a lot more than $3,000 to go and throw myself into a cockfight.

  • P W

    “However, it is also important to consider the other revenue streams”… and without those numbers we don’t really know anything, so we might as well let this discussion rest.

  • ninjitsu

    @P W: I think you need to reread that paragraph. Fighters don’t see any of the profits from DVD sales, etc..

  • Houston “Glass Jaw” Alexander

    @ninjitsu: Fighters do, however, see profits from personal sponsorships (logos on shorts, wearing a certain tshirt after a fight or a ball cap, holding a can of Monster energy drink). They make income based on the premise that they will promote a given brand *in the octagon* and as such, it’s just as relevant to all of this as the dvd sales and so forth.

    P W is right though that we don’t have enough details to really make educated analyses of any of this data and even if we did, it’s pointless. It’s something that the fighters need to deal with and countless blogs about it on every mma site in the world will serve nothing except use up database storage.

  • Jemaleddin

    I like how we’re comparing revenue instead of profits. What did each of those events cost to put on? You know, venues, salaries, insurance, advertising…. Because as a percentage of profits, I bet that looks a lot better.

  • ajadoniz

    Some of the fighters who make below 10grand a fight are not signed to exclusive contracts. they can fight elsewhere and use the marketable “UFC fighter” title, earning them more money outside while they gain notoriety

  • Jersey Tomato

    I could care less what the fighters make. All I know is I paid $45 for the pleasure of watching last weekend’s card and the UFC is free to dole that out in any manner they see fit. If Jardine does not like getting his ass handed to him for a mere $10K, he is free to take that job as a nightclub bouncer where he can beat on guys for free.

  • ninjitsu

    Well, if you don’t care about fighter salaries than don’t read articles about it.

  • MarleyMarl

    I agree with Jamaleddin, with out knowing what the profits are, all these augments that the fighters aren’t getting enough isn’t based on anything decent.

  • Wu Tang

    Well in all fairness there are other things at stake here. Just to let you guys know, my ex roomie works for UBS. He told me that UFC has an outstanding loan that they are unable to pay, which is the sum of… 250+ million. So believe me or not, but Dana isright on profit vs revenue. Tito and Randy doesnt know much in finances, all they see is big bux, yet they fail to realize that there is more to it than that.

    And you guys have to wonder why UBS is going under now… partly UFC’s fault.

  • sebastian

    I wonder how many percentage points of ProElite’s losses their fighters are responsible for. 30% should be fair, I think.

  • Beau

    The comparisons to NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL player percentages of gross revenue are not relevant. They don’t do anywhere near the advertising and promotion that the UFC does compared to how many events they hold. If we can get the profit numbers from all leagues and then compare those to player salaries then that would be relevant. We also would need to know the amount of the secret bonuses that are given out at each event. Basically, not nearly enough data or transparency to make any sort of conclusions.


    I’m surprised at how shallow the MMAPayout article is. They usually do a better job of looking at the bigger picture. Aside from the points already mentioned, when Dana White talks about “ensuring the future of the sport,” he’s not just paying lip service to justify the low pay. MMA as a sports business is highly unstable and still in its infancy. Just look at how many promotions have come and gone. The UFC needs to build up its finances and invest back into the sport through continuing stability and expansion into other markets. Doing so will ensure the fanbase continues to grow and MMA will not be a flash-in-the-pan. A financially strong UFC is good for the sport and good for fighters because it means that there will always be opportunities for them to make money.