In May 2015, UFC fighter Miesha Tate called attention to how current Reebok deal would be particularly unfair to women. The payout tiers for the deal will be determined by how many bouts a fighter has participated in for the UFC and other promotions the UFC acquired over the years. Since women were not allowed in the UFC until 2012, they will not be on a level playing field with their male counterparts as far as sponsorship pay is concerned when the Reebok deal begins in July. But the Reebok deal is not the only way the UFC treats women unfairly, they’re also paid less in base salary when compared to male fighters.
We looked at the publicly available information on all UFC events in Las Vegas going back to November 16, 2012, when the women’s division was created, until January 3, 2015. In the 18 events during this time period, the average salary per fight for women was $37,476, while the average salary for men was $61,691.
The disparity between men and women’s pay in the UFC only grows when UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is taken out of the pool of female fighters. Rousey averaged over $190,000 in per fight salary. Without her, the average salary for women in the UFC is just $25,487.
Nationally in 2011, women made about 82 percent of what men made, according to OECD statistics. But, in the UFC for the years we looked at, women made approximately 61 percent of what their male peers made and only 41.3 percent when Ronda Rousey was taken out of the female fighter pool. Now, with the Reebok deal, women will be even further disadvantaged.
Since the Reebok sponsorship money will be based on the number of fights with the promotion, male fighters, who have been fighting in the UFC longer, will have a significant advantage and will continue to earn more than females in the UFC.
The Reebok deal will only widen the pay gap between men and women in the UFC. CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said “We don’t treat them any differently” when speaking about women in the UFC but the numbers tell a much different story. Female UFC fighters making over almost 40 percent less than their male peers is a very big difference that the UFC is only making worse with a pay structure for the Reebok deal that is unfair to women.
Female UFC fighters deserve equal pay for equal work. The time is now for equality in the UFC.
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