With more UFC stars speaking out trying to get a better cut of the revenue, heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes says he is appreciative of those risking their “careers and paychecks” to help the rest of the fighters.
“We do deserve more money. I’m not even trying to be greedy. We are on ESPN now. That is supposed to mean something,” Blaydes told CBS Sports.
“I don’t like seeing guys go into a war against one another where both guys are amazing and are fighting for $12,000 [to show] and $12,000 [to win],” Blaydes said. “It’s a little embarrassing. These are top athletes and a lot of them have to have [other] jobs still. If you want this sport to grow, you need to provide more amenities for us as far as training. You can’t have guys who are ranked who have to drive for Uber. That’s embarrassing.”
Dana White has repeatedly brought up the pandemic or the absence of a live gate when asked about fighter’s pay issues recently. This is despite ticket sales reportedly accounting for just “less than 12%” of the UFC’s revenue in 2019, and the company having more than enough guaranteed contractual money to ensure that 2020 is going to be a massive year for the promotion.
Blaydes believes those are simply “excuses,” and that there’s enough money to go around.
“I don’t want to hear all those excuses, the money is there,” Blaydes said. “I don’t want to hear the excuses. Even if you just bumped us up to like 29% of revenue, that would be a giant raise for guys. I don’t want to hear that. If you don’t want to pay us, just say you don’t want to give us the money. Just say that and don’t make excuses like, ‘I don’t know where it’s going to come from.’ It’s like, bro, don’t do that. Don’t disrespect our intelligence like that. We are worth more. If you don’t want to pay us, just say that and we can make our own informed decisions.
“It’s like you trying to pee on us and calling it rain like we’re dumb. I know we get hit in the head a lot but we are not dumb.”
Other sports leagues have a revenue split closer to 50/50, but as Blaydes noted, raising the fighter’s share to 29% would already be a “giant raise.” The NY Post reported that the UFC gave fighters less than 16% of their record setting 2019 revenue, while the company’s own estimates had them targeting to maintain a 17% share for years.
Early 2020 financial numbers also show a lot of cash flow for the UFC, including a large increase to their EBITDA for the first quarter.