Somewhere out there is a UFC fighter who cashed a post-fight check for the rather healthy sum of $5 million. However, if you think UFC president Dana White or UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta are going to let you know whom that fighter was, you're wrong.
This weekend Floyd Mayweather Jr. will pull down a guaranteed $41.5 million for his fight against Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez will earn at least $5 million for his efforts in the September 14 fight.
A report from ESPN indicates that Alvarez will likely make much more than his $5 million guarantee once a pay-per-view cut is figured into the equation. We know the guaranteed numbers for both fighters because those figures were reported on the contracts filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Friday.
UFC president Dana White was discussing the upcoming Mayweather versus Alvarez fight during his Google Hangout on Thursday and that led to the topic of fighter pay. White, with the help of Fertitta revealed that the biggest payday for a UFC fighter:
We paid a guy $5 million for a fight before. We didn't start making money until 2007. That was six years ago. So boxing's been around for a 100 years, they've been doing big events since way back when. Pretty amazing what we have done in a short amount of time. I don't think a lot of people look at that way and break it down for what it really is.
When pushed to name the fighter, White laughed and moved on with the conversation.
The UFC is famous for paying undisclosed locker room bonus awards, as well as awarding their top fighters points on the pay-per-view-broadcasts. That's obviously where the majority of that $5 million came from for the unnamed UFC fighter. After all, the man recognized by many as greatest mixed martial artist of all-time, Anderson Silva pulled in $600,000 in guaranteed money in his last fight.
That's where things get a little tricky with the UFC pay structure. There's the guaranteed money and the somewhat arbitrary bonus system that leaves many fighters wondering exactly what they are going to take home after their efforts in the Octagon.
Mayweather knows that the check he gets on Saturday night will be payable for $41,5000,000. Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions spoke to Yahoo.com and said that when figuring in pay-per-view numbers, Mayweather's full pay may eclipse the $100 million mark for his fight against Alvarez.
For those interested in seeing exactly how the promoters of the Mayweather versus Alvarez fight can pay Mayweather such a princely sum, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden has an in-depth breakdown.
The UFC's pay scale is not stagnant. Fighter pay has grown over time. When Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort fought for Couture's UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 46, Couture's guarantee was $120,000 while Belfort's was $100,000. Belfort added $30,000 in a contractually disclosed win bonus. Had Couture won he would have taken home an additional $80,000.
When Belfort last fought in a UFC bout with a disclosed salary he pulled in $275,000 in defeat. That fight was against then UFC middleweight champion Silva at UFC 126 in February 2011. Couture's last disclosed payday was $250,000 for his first round submission of James Toney at UFC 118.
The UFC's pay scale is by no means perfect, but the pay seems to be increasing over time. Is it keeping pace with the revenues that are generated by the promotion? Well, that's an altogether entirely different question.
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