Current and former UFC fighters are left angered over low pay in comparison to the organization’s multimillion-dollar payments to its rich investors.
According to The New York Post, it was revealed earlier this month that approximately $300 million will be paid in one-time dividends to the company’s A-list of celebrity investors. Model Gisele Bündchen, actor Mark Wahlberg and actress Charlize Theron are among the beneficiaries.
UFC kingpin Dana White is on schedule to receive more than $3 million from the windfall according to sources. He has received harsh criticism in recent years from former fighters regarding low pay.
On the other side of the coin, White is notorious for his generous tipping that has reportedly “changed people’s lives”. According to The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the UFC president tipped dealers $100,000 at the Vegas Palms Casino Resort. This rubbed salt in the wound of retired MMA fighter Kyle Kingsbury:
“I heard about Dana tipping a waitress $10,000 and that was my wage as a fighter,” he said. “I lived in my mom’s garage and I had two jobs when I was fighting in the UFC. I was a personal trainer and a bouncer [and] bartender in a strip club.”
Kingsbury is joined by multiple former fighters in suing the organization in an anti-trust lawsuit. They allege that anti-competitive conduct by the organization created a systematic monopsony that dominates the market, stifles competition and salaries for fighters. This practice drives down pay and pressure fighters into exclusive, long-term contracts.
The UFC has disputed the claims made against them and insist they pay fighters fairly and competitively:
“UFC pays its fighters more than any other MMA promoter,” a UFC spokesperson told The Post. “We are proud of the company we’ve built and we are confident in our legal position.”
In a report published earlier this month, it was stated that the UFC only pays 16% of its $900 million revenue to fighters. In comparison, data shows that Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League pay between 48-50% of their revenue to players.
When BJPenn reported the payout claims, MMA fighter Devin Powell shared his own experience with the UFC:
We are Willing to die in that fucking cage…..
1st UFC fight I left that cage with a broken eye socket + a paycheck for 10k. Then I got taxed heavily, pay manager, pay for two plane tickets to Arizona out of pocket, pay for food and camp… we’d do it free, but deserve better. https://t.co/qIDeuYreIh
— Devin Powell (@DevinPowellMMA) February 15, 2020
Top-ranked fighters including Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone have also vented their frustrations about pay. After facing Conor McGregor in the blockbuster main event of UFC 246, the fighter revealed he was paid significantly less than the rumored 7-10 million payout:
“Hahahahah 7-10 million,” Cerrone responded to a follower on Instagram. “I didn’t get PPV money. What the world thinks and what really happens is so different. I made flat money.”
A UFC spokesperson denied the claim made by Cerrone but refused to provide exact pay figures. Cerrone’s manager, Josh Jones stated that Cerrone “got compensated tremendously. Multiple times more than $200,000, a lot more than $200,000,” and was “paid in many different ways,” but would not detail specifics.
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