It’s been almost a full year since the last UFC event to have publicly reported purses by an athletic commission, and this weekend’s UFC 261 pay-per-view in Florida will be no different.
MMA Junkie’s Nolan King confirmed with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation that fighter purses will not be publicly available, a change from recent years where MMA (but not boxing) payouts were released. Florida department spokesman Patrick Fargason told King, “The purse for that event has been deemed a trade secret by the promoter and therefore exempt from public record.”
This news broke shortly after the UFC 261 press conference, which was attended by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Way back in 2014, the UFC lobbied for the passage of Senate Bill 808, which sought to limit the disclosures required by both boxing and MMA promoters. The Legislature made the case that “the harm to a promoter in disclosing proprietary confidential business information significantly outweighs any public benefit derived from disclosure of the information.” Fight purses obviously got lumped into the “trade secrets” category.
SB 808 did pass without issue but certainly there has not been consistent enforcement of this rule. Nearly every UFC show from 2015 through 2020 had disclosed purses by the Florida State Boxing Commission. The one exception was UFC Tampa: Jedrzejczyk vs. Waterson in 2019.
Last year, the Nevada Athletic Commission stopped disclosing payouts for both boxing and MMA, a major blow for some semblance of transparency on the fighter pay front. One of the commission members who was at the forefront of Senate Bill 29 in Nevada was Staci Alonso, who was appointed to the NAC while still employed by the Fertitta-owned Station Casinos. Fighter pay was never explicitly stated in the bill but was nevertheless subject to the confidentiality laws enacted back in July.
It should be noted that an overwhelming majority of the United States ACs (and international jurisdictions) keep purses confidential, including New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas, but some notable exceptions include California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Georgia, and Ohio. Only California is an established major combat sports hub, and while the state boasts many notable boxing events on an annual basis, the UFC has not been there more than twice in a calendar year since 2013.
Between Florida flipping back to no more disclosed payouts, Nevada’s new law, and the UFC’s international expansion pre-pandemic, public knowledge of UFC fighter pay figures to be at an all-time low for the foreseeable future. After all, it’s a “trade secret.”