Let me start by saying I am no advocate for fighters or promotions. These guys are grown ups and have the option of not signing any contract. That said, I do think the UFC holds almost all the power and sometimes takes advantage of their position. I'm just not as militant about it as some fans.
So we know that PPV is the main revenue source for the UFC and I'm going to use a number of 500,000 buys for this topic. So my system, is to pay the fighters based on their appearance on the card, the fights position on the card and how many buys the card gets.
So, lets say this
Headliner and main event, often a title fight:
Winner gets $1.00 per buy ($500,000)/Loser gets $.50 per buy ($250,000)
Fight #2, sometimes co-headliner, but smaller draw, often contender fight:
Winner gets $.20 per buy($100,000)/Loser gets $.10 per buy ($50,000)
Fight #3, 4 and 5, usually up and comers or contender vs. easier opponent:
Winner gets $.08 per buy ($40,000)/Loser gets $.05 per buy ($25,000)
Swing fight, usually a TUF guy or hard luck type:
Winner gets $.06 per buy ($30,000)/Loser gets $.03 per buy ($15,000)
Now we all know that the other 5-7 fights usually make it on the card. Not all of them, but usually at least a couple. These guys are frequently getting $3,000-$8,000 per fight, so I say if they make it on the broadcast, they automatically double the pay. So If a fighter was contracted for $5,000, they would automatically switch to $10,000. And I would have no problem with a $5,000 minimum to fight at all.
Dana is pretty good about handing out bonuses, and they should definitely do that still, rewarding the guys that really get the fans excited.
So, let's add it up, slightly over $1,000,000 for a 500k ppv, excluding bonuses. Seems to be about right, fighters performing make more money and fighters who don't, slip down the pay scale. The numbers are just examples, and if you think they should have a higher overall payroll, you could easily double the payouts and be around 2 million in salary.
A guy like Roger Huerta, who has gained popularity, fans and had some entertaining fights. He has worked his way up to main card and title contender, yet is still paid like a UFC newcomer. No doubt he is becoming more of a draw and the UFC is getting him for the cheap. With this system, he would be in line to make a much higher salary than on a straight contract, basically getting paid for his performance.
Let's say Brock Lesner loses to Herring. The UFC still has him as a highly paid fighter, yet so far an under performing one. Next time out, he slides down the card, fights a lower level fighter and wins. He still gets good money and the UFC isn't on the hook for huge bucks, thus less likely to release him before he lives up to the hype.
Same thing could go for Affliction and Tito. He thinks they will sell 500k in ppvs because of him, so let him sign for $2.00 per buy, which would pay him 1 million if he meets his prediction. They will probably sell a minimum of 100k ppvs, so if that is the low end, they only are out $200,000, which is still a decent payday.
Like I said, you can adjust the scale, have minimums or do some other things, but the main point is, fighters aren't stuck in low paying contracts and the promoter isn't stuck with a ridiculous payout for under performers.
You might say, well they will put guys down the card so they don't pay them as much. Why? They will be paying it to someone, and they won't want to hold down their rising stars. Guys like AA will have a better guaranteed minimum, so they will be less likely to bury them.
Obviously not perfect, but what do you guys think?