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UFC Salary Controversy

Dan WhiteThe Ultimate Fighting Championship is one of the biggest growing sports right now next to Nascar. In 2006 the UFC made $223M in pay-per-view events and advertising. That beat out HBO Boxing $177M and WWE $200M. The UFC is making more money now than it ever did in the past. So why are they paying their fighters peanuts?

When UFC President, Dana White, created the reality show The Ultimate Fighter the UFC's popularity soared. The show featured fighters competing for a six figure contract to fight in the UFC. Sounds juicy right, but here's the catch. The six figure contract is over a three year period, so you only make six figures over three years.

In the first year, the salary for each fight is $12K to fight and an additional $12K to win. Fighting income for the year would range from $36K to $72K, depending on wins and losses. In the second year, it's $16K and $16K per fight, meaning that fighting income for the year would range from $48K to $96K. In the third year, it's $22K and $22K per fight, meaning that fighting income for the year would range from $66K to $122K. Which is OK, but for three years is way to long. That means no matter how popular or how well he does, he will never make more money, under the contract, but the UFC will rake in the cash.

Now for pay-per-view events, this is the big money maker. We'll use UFC 57 for an example. This fight took place on Feburary 4, 2006. This fight had a big main event between Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. The winner would get $250K and the loser would get $225K. Where's the incentive in this fight. Anyways this was the highest paid fight of the night.

There were 18 fights scheduled for that night and only 7-8 fights get shown on PPV. The next winning payout was only $32K and so on all the way as low as $2K. The total fighter payroll for that night was $667K. The total UFC revenue for this event was $19.36M. Unlike boxing where the fighters can get rich off of one fight, it's clear that in the UFC the fighters are being taken advantage of. I'll let you come to your own conclusion on this topic.


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