With the UFC class action lawsuit hitting the news again, and exposing more details than ever about the UFC’s athlete pay structure, Dana White has had some questions to answer.
Namely, “Why are you so cheap?”
That was the result of a call for comments and questions during a Q&A where the UFC president sat down over Twitter to talk to MMA fans across the globe.
Credit to White, he at least tried to give an answer, even if it came with his usual bluntness...
“First of all, you’re a dick. Let’s start there,” White quipped after reading the question aloud. “And, you don’t know what fighters get paid. Everybody wants more money, everybody needs more money. That’s always going to be an issue.”
Due to the process of ‘discovery’ during the UFC’s recent court dealings, however, fans do have a better idea than ever of what top talent in the promotion makes year-to-year and fight to fight. Athletes operating under the WME-IMG owned promotion have taken in approximately 20% of the revenue generated by UFC events over each of the past four years. That’s a bigger share than F1 or Nascar, but less than Tennis or Golf.
The highest paid fighter in the UFC made an estimated $8.54 million in 2015 (across the entire year, not per-bout), but as little as only $1.81 million in 2014. On average, the top 20 highest paid fighters in the UFC made between $1 million and $2.5 million a year between 2012 and 2015.
On the flip side, White made approximately $360 million during the sale of the UFC, from the Fertittas to their new WME-IMG owners in 2017. And ESPN reported back in 2016, that when Dana White signed a new deal to remain with the promotion, he picked up %9 of the UFC’s future profits over the next five years—estimated at something in the neighborhood of $18 million a year. It may be that everybody wants more money, but there’s a solid argument that not everybody needs it.