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Dan Le Batard: Consider the desperation of the fight game when it comes to UFC pay

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Dan Le Batard wonders if fans care about pay “as long as they get their pound of meat every time UFC is showing fights.”

Dan Le Batard does not like the UFC revenue share
Dan Le Batard does not like the UFC revenue share
Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Dan Le Batard has never been afraid to address what he perceives as injustice in the UFC. Even when he was with ESPN, the network who is the broadcast partner of the UFC, Le Batard took UFC president Dana White to task for underpaying his fighters.

Le Batard is no longer with ESPN, but it seems as if he still has his eye on the sport because he had some thoughts on UFC Vegas 34 — specifically the aftermath of the Jared Cannonier vs. Kelvin Gastelum matchup.

“You see another UFC fighter after a fight just announced, when the microphone was in front of him, and he didn’t even say it with bitterness, ‘I’m broke,’” Le Batard said, recalling Cannonier’s post-fight interview with UFC commentator Daniel Cormier.

Le Batard then pointed out that the UFC and ESPN have a deal worth $1.5 billion, but that “You have fighters all over the place telling you — after they win fights — at the height of triumph, and it’s not with bitterness, to pursue this love I have, I have to be broke and I have to keep fighting, I can’t take a lot of time between fights because I’m broke. I have to keep getting out there, whether I’m ready or not in a timely manner, maybe before I’m ready, just because I’m broke.”

Le Batard went on to say that he wants attention put on the fact that UFC athletes do not get a fair share of the revenue they generate for the promotion.

“As basketball and football have partnerships with their employees, that make it that any injustices these players may be suffering,” said Le Batard, “at least they’re collectively bargaining to be partners with their employer, that allows them to share the money.”

As an example of how the UFC’s independent contractors — not employees — don’t share in the spoils of revenue like the athletes in other major sports do, Le Batard alluded to the deal. That “partnership” pays the UFC a reported $175 million for branding on the fight kits. The UFC fighters do not get a share of that revenue. In sports with collective bargaining that money would be split at rates close to 50-50.

“It should bother you,” said Le Batard of the imbalance of UFC revenue share, “especially when you start considering the desperation that is the soul and the undercurrent of the fight game.”

Le Batard then openly wondered if the fans care about how poorly the fighters are paid, “as long as they get their pound of meat every time UFC is showing fights.”