In 2019, the UFC will part ways with FOX and start broadcasting on ESPN. The promotion’s product will also appear extensively on ESPN’s streaming service ESPN+. This new deal between the two parties, which is set to span five years, is worth a hefty $1.5 billion dollars.
Speaking on her radio show, MMA Tonight on SiriusXM Rush, former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate gave her take on this new UFC-ESPN deal. For her, the deal seems to represent the next step in the UFC’s evolution.
“It’s incredible,” Tate said (transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting). “It’s a big jump up. Just when you think the promotion has hit the ceiling so to speak, it’s just a glass one that they appear to break through and go on to new levels. This is massive. This is a huge transition for the company and I think everyone is pretty excited about it.
“The fact that it’s a five-year deal and there’s just so much that ESPN has to offer,” Tate continued. “This isn’t just a one road venture, there are multiple avenues. This is a tree of ventures with ESPN and lots of opportunities for the UFC to branch out in different shapes and forms and really grow the platform. We’re putting MMA on the map in new places and growing the sport, which is awesome to see.”
While Miesha Tate is clearly excited about the UFC’s new deal with ESPN, she’s also hoping UFC fighters will see a significant piece of deal’s $1.5 billion price tag.
UFC President Dana White has assured the deal will benefit fighters, though not in a particularly straightforward, tangible way. Based on his comments, fighters will benefit most from elevated levels of promotion.
Dana White, when asked how this ESPN deal will benefit UFC fighters: "ESPN has shown its commitment to not only UFC, but MMA. The amount of promotion our athletes are going to get now, and what ESPN is doing with this new platform, it's going to be very big for the fighters."
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 23, 2018
Miesha Tate sees this boost in promotion as a good thing, but is hoping fighters will earn bigger paydays, too.
“It’s wonderful to see all this unfolding for the UFC,” Tate said. “It’s exciting for the fighters too. This is a great opportunity for them for future endorsements and things like that. It’s good all around. This is exactly where the UFC needed to go.
“There’s definitely gonna be a lot more money flowing through the UFC with this deal and it has to trickle down to the fighters, right?” the former champ continued. “This is public knowledge. I know in the past the UFC has been somewhat secretive about exactly what the make and there’s speculation on what percentage actually goes to the fighters and how much it costs to run the business and all these things, but this is completely transparent. We know exactly what the UFC is making, we know exactly what this deal offers, and that’s not everything either. That’s just what they’re doing with ESPN. So I think it’s probably got to motivate some of these fighters to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, these numbers don’t quite add up.’ So there probably will be some tougher negotiations and all that.
“I can only imagine that it’s going to lead to fighters wanting more money, deserving more money. Without the fighters, the UFC doesn’t make these kinds of deals. The fighters are the laborers. The fighters are the ones making this happen, they’re the entertainers, they are what makes the UFC go around and they absolutely deserve to be compensated. It’s a short career and it’s certainly hard on your body – probably takes years off of our lives – so I think it’s reasonable to ask for fair compensation.”
Do you think UFC fighters are going to see bigger paydays as the result of this ESPN deal?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/25/2018.