Nick Diaz is probably the loudest voice in MMA about the difference between paydays in this sport and boxing. Every time Diaz talks about his situation in life he laments the fact that he could be making millions in boxing. While boxing has nice paydays, much better on the undercard than many realize, it takes success to get to the big money. No different than MMA.
And that seems to be the point Dana White was making at the UFC 138 press conference:
Quotes from the video (transcribed by MMA Mania):
"From 2001-2006, we were almost $50 million in the hole. Over that time, not one fighter ever got paid late, no check bounced, no employee at Zuffa, ever. The Fertitta brothers funded this thing for that long. In 2006 we started turning a profit. From 2006-2011, I can't remember what the number is, but it's like 40-something millionaires. 40-something millionaires, 20-something multi, multimillionaires and the list goes on and on. That's from 2006-2011. Boxing's been around for 100 years. It was a mainstream sport before there was television. What we've been able to do, in that much time, is pretty phenomenal."
There is also a lot more politically at play with boxing money. This is what people seem to miss.
HBO and Showtime are bidding and paying huge broadcast rights fees to put a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fight on PPV. The UFC does not have that same kind of situation serving as a strong backbone of the money they're putting out. It's also why the idea that Diaz was going to make more in his boxing match with Jeff Lacy than he would have in the UFC is false. There was no bidding war for the rights fees and no demand for PPV to take a cut from. Going through an independent PPV source meant much less money and a payday around $175k as I reported previously.