clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dana White teases announcement, says UFC fighters now ‘at the level’ of NBA, NFL and MLB

New, 50 comments

UFC keeps growing, and White is teasing other major announcements.

Dana White responds to Tyron Woodley’s comments about earning a bigger paycheck outside the UFC. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The UFC’s highly lucrative business keeps growing.

After a 2020 that Dana White boasted to have blew past all their financial records, the promotion recently announced a Draft Kings deal reportedly worth $350 million. Although specific details have yet to be revealed, the promotion also has an upcoming outfitting deal with Venum.

Now the UFC President is teasing further groundbreaking announcements, and claiming that the company and the fighters are now among the massive major sports leagues.

“We’ll have announcements this year that will take the sport and the brand to a whole new level,” White told BT Sport. “Every year we continue to climb. The Draft Kings deal is massive. For us to be now looked at as the other big (sport) — the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball — that’s always been important to me. For these athletes to be respected and at the level these other athletes are at, we’re finally there. We’re there now.

“We’re going to capitalize and grow on that around the world. In these other countries, it’s basically soccer and cricket that we have to measure up to. We’re getting there.”

After generating somewhere around a billion in revenue in 2020, the Draft Kings deal is also set to add another guaranteed $70 million a year for the MMA leader.

The UFC has unquestionably been a huge success financially, even without the other announcements that White is teasing. Where the UFC has lagged for years though, is with fighter compensation — especially with that comparison to major sports leagues that White mentioned.

Financially, the comparison pales as UFC fighters just aren’t “at the level” or even close to the athletes on the other major sports in that regard.

For example, depending on experience, the NBA minimum contracts used to fill up teams’ final roster slots go somewhere from around $900,000 to $2.6 million a year. Even those athletes trying to make it to the NBA on 10-day contracts can earn up to $145,000 in that short span.

Salaries will of course vary on these different major sports leagues, depending on how much revenue they can generate, but what they have in common is that the athletes have collectively bargained. That isn’t done in the UFC, and the few efforts to organize haven’t amounted to much just yet.

As a result, the revenue split that athletes earn from other sports can come close to a 50-50 split, while the UFC just takes home the lion’s share of the money. There’s always hope that things improve, but UFC’s own estimates showed that for years, they targeted just a 17% cut for the fighters.

The UFC indeed keeps growing, but just how much will the fighters receive from these new lucrative deals White has mentioned?