UFC President Dana White recently made the news talking about the sport of boxing, and specifically talking about the controversy surrounding the latest Floyd Mayweather fight. Over the weekend, boxing promoter Bob Arum spoke out about some of the business practices of White and the UFC, and it made for interesting reading.
Arum made the claim that the UFC uses about 20 percent of it’s fight generated income to compensate the talent, where as Arum’s company, Top Rank Boxing uses about 80 percent that goes directly to the fighters. His claim is that the boxing system, and more properly his own, are fairer to the fighters.
It is an interesting accusation. If Arum was WAY off, I would expect that the UFC might have cause for legal action, and they have never been shy about using lawyers.
But Arum is a lawyer, and more than that, has proven over the decades to be a saavy businessman. He is unlikely to make a statement that will get him sued, which means the numbers are likely close.
Floyd Mayweather made close to 30 million dollars for this last outing of his. Let us say that it is safe to say that no UFC fighter has ever been compensated anywhere near that. His opponent, Victor Ortiz cleared a reported 2.5 million bucks. Let’s just say the number of UFC fighters that have gotten that for one event is probably still under ten.
In my estimation, the UFC does a better job of allowing the fighters to earn extra compensation with sponsorship than boxing does. They allow shirts and hats and decals on shorts, etc. But the UFC does earn a fee from the sponsors for the privilege. Therefore the fighter gets to take home a little bit more outside money, but the UFC has their benefit as well.
Then there is the subject of the bonuses. This was great PR on the part of the UFC, as early on the business was aghast that Dana was handing out checks in the locker room for fighter of the night, ko of the night etc.
But $75,000, $80,000 has been where they leveled off. It’s good money, but if Arum is right, those bonuses could easily be 10 times the amount and Zuffa would still make money by the boatloads.
And maybe Arum is off, but the UFC won’t sue. This is because, after all is said and done, they are owned by a casino, who is highly unlikely to want to open there books as part of a legal case. Which means we might never know.
I give Arum some credit for calling into question the UFC’s pay system, because they normally get a lot of credit for it.
But every card has some sorry bastard fighting for $6k. That is not a professional fighter, how long is $6k, well let’s say $4k after taxes, going to last a guy? A month, or six weeks or what?
Especially now after the FOX deal, if UFC wants to stay on the cutting edge they may consider upping the ante on the compensation they give the athletes. If not they may fall into a broken system the way boxing did many years ago.