UFC Grows, Fighter Pay Stagnates

July 1 | By fightersagenda | Filed in: Uncategorized.

The NBA signed a gigantic multi-billion, multi-year TV deal, and the league and the players’ union have been grappling with the implications of a much higher salary cap as a result of the new TV deal. Regardless of how the revenue pie is divvied up, the assumption is that the athletes will make more. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they saying goes.

Why is that not the case in the UFC?

The company has been touting the fact that MMA is the fastest growing sport for many years now, and the UFC, being the biggest promoter, has been growing its business rapidly, a landmark TV deal, and getting high-profile endorsements, too. But have UFC fighters been getting paid more as well? The answer would appear to be a clear No, based on the fighter pay data from the company’s Las Vegas events over the last five years.
Other than two events, the median salary has been stagnant.

In fact, entry-level fighters can still earn as little as $8,000 per fight, even though the cost of living has gone up.

Even McDonald’s workers are getting a raise. Shouldn’t UFC fighter pay get a bump, too?

If MMA really is “the fastest growing sport” then why aren’t UFC fighters’ salaries growing at the same rate? Check out the median (or mid-point) per-fight salaries for the UFC events in Las Vegas from the start of 2011 until Jan. 31, 2015:

Only two events, UFC 156 and UFC 162, saw median salaries above $50,000. The median salary for the 658 fighters in all events was just $24,500. In 2011, the UFC and Fox Sports reached a seven year agreement to televise UFC fights. It was reported that bidding for this deal was reported to reach an average of $100 million per year. Additionally, the UFC recently signed a deal with Reebok reported to be worth $70 million over 6 years.

Where is this money going? Why are fighter salaries not growing? Shouldn’t the fighters who make UFC events possible get a bigger piece of the revenues?

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