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UFC Owner Lorenzo Fertitta Hits Back at ESPN Over Fighter Pay

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Hours after ESPN's Outside the Lines aired an investigation of the way the UFC pays its fighters, the UFC released its own video of a portion of UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta's interview with ESPN -- a portion that didn't make it on the air, in which Fertitta said UFC fighters make better money than boxers who fight on ESPN.

In that interview, Fertitta points out that ESPN is in a better financial position than the UFC, and yet boxers who appear on ESPN's Friday Night Fights make less money than fighters who appear on basic cable fight cards in the UFC.

"ESPN's gonna make $2.8 billion," Fertitta said. "ESPN -- do you know what fighters make on ESPN fights? There was a guy who walked away in this last fight here in Vegas. ... He walked away with $275 for a four-round fight."

Fertitta said that compared with what those boxers make, the UFC's typical entry-level fighter pay of $6,000 to show and another $6,000 if they win is a good contract.

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Post #1   1/15/12 8:52:52PM   

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to ESPN for having a way they wanted to portray the UFC in mind for Outside the Lines before even getting the facts and then editing the show to fit what they wanted to show.

Very poor for a major network like ESPN to put out intentionally biased news.

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Post #2   1/15/12 9:03:42PM   

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ESPN sure did get owned with this one, don't mess with the UFC

Post #3   1/15/12 9:26:42PM   

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Something tells me this won't lead to an ESPN Outside the Lines show on low fighter pay for ESPN Friday Night Fights.

Last edited 1/15/12 9:34PM server time by Kpro
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Post #4   1/15/12 9:34:22PM   

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ESPN should just screw off. They didn't care about the UFC before, now they're big and getting mainstream they wanna criticize them. Go back to covering your football and bball or whatever they do.

Post #5   1/15/12 9:36:23PM   

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Yeah screw the fighters. They will all have long illustrious careers in the spotlight as fighters. Dana White and the brothers need more money for sure...

Post #6   1/15/12 10:35:19PM   

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Why do people think an attack on the UFC is an attack on MMA? Fighter pay in the UFC is a joke compared to other major pro sports.

Now with Strikeforce owned by the UFC I'm sure fighter pay will be lower because there is no real competition to drive the numbers up.

Post #7   1/15/12 10:46:26PM   

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Posted by BigIP

Why do people think an attack on the UFC is an attack on MMA? Fighter pay in the UFC is a joke compared to other major pro sports.

Now with Strikeforce owned by the UFC I'm sure fighter pay will be lower because there is no real competition to drive the numbers up.



What major pro sport is the UFC comparable to?

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Post #8   1/15/12 10:52:55PM   

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Come on ESPN, if your gonna critique the UFC, you have to be willing to look at your own practices and self assess. It's the same way in life, if your gonna judge someone, you have to be willing to judge yourself first

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Post #9   1/15/12 11:53:22PM   

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Posted by prophecy033

Come on ESPN, if your gonna critique the UFC, you have to be willing to look at your own practices and self assess. It's the same way in life, if your gonna judge someone, you have to be willing to judge yourself first



Not to mention, they just recently lost the bidding war for the UFC to Fox. If they were smart, they would have waited a bit longer to do a story like this. Even if the piece was well intended, which it doesn't seem to be, it's gonna have that perceived-agenda stigma attached to it. Rookie maneuver for a company of this magnitude.

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Post #10   1/16/12 12:03:10AM   

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Posted by BigIP

Why do people think an attack on the UFC is an attack on MMA? Fighter pay in the UFC is a joke compared to other major pro sports.



every pro sport makes far more money than the UFC. they have TV deals coming from dozens of networks, whether local or national. UFC is planning on holding 34 events this year, the NFL does that in 2 weeks while the NHL, NBA and MLB cover that in a few days, so the income is so much greater there. the UFC derives a good chunk of its revenue off its fanbase paying to watch its event...can MLB or NBA or NFL or NHL say that? UFC fighters compete 2-3 times a year on average...thats a fraction of how often other athletes compete in their sports.

all those other pro sports also have unions. can you imagine if there was to be a lockout or a strike in this sport?

Last edited 1/16/12 12:17AM server time by bubbles
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Post #11   1/16/12 12:15:12AM   

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Could the UFC spend a larger percentage of their revenue on fighter purses?
Absolutely

Why doesn't the UFC spend a larger percentage of their revenue on the fighters?
Because the UFC spends a huge portion of their revenue not only investing in the growth and future of their company but the sport as a whole.

The UFC is a private company and it wisely chooses to spend its resources by securing the best possible future it can. What is the good of paying out lavish fighter purses if the company cannot sustain such an expense and is forced to fold? Affliction, anyone? Fighter purses have been steadily increasing since Zuffa bought the UFC and the company has made great strides in legitimizing a sport that was widely regarded as human cockfighting not that long ago.

The UFC's business plan is smart and effective as is evident when you consider how all of its competitors have folded due to poor planning.

Post #12   1/16/12 7:28:38AM   

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Posted by Kpro

Something tells me this won't lead to an ESPN Outside the Lines show on low fighter pay for ESPN Friday Night Fights.



I'm not defending ESPN, but is that a fair comparison? I don't know and that's why I'm asking. With Friday Night Fights, isn't that similar to Strikeforce on Showtime in the sense that ESPN/Showtime are primarily running the production? Does Showtime pay the fighters (I think that was the situation in Fedor's case) or does Strikeforce? Does ESPN pay the fighters or do the promoters, or with Friday Night Fights is ESPN both? Anybody know?

Post #13   1/17/12 1:44:49PM   

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Posted by bigrand826


Posted by Kpro

Something tells me this won't lead to an ESPN Outside the Lines show on low fighter pay for ESPN Friday Night Fights.



I'm not defending ESPN, but is that a fair comparison?



Considering Outside the Lines compared the UFC pay to the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL only,"unfair comparisons" matter to my original statement since the entire show was chalk full of unfair wage comparisons biased against the UFC.

As for asking just for the sake of knowing how ESPN handles its payment of fighters on FNF, I'm not sure but it's not relevant to me in the wake of the comparisons they used for the UFC.

Last edited 1/17/12 1:52PM server time by Kpro
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Post #14   1/17/12 1:51:48PM   

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Meltzer: Closest competitor to the UFC, WWE, pays out 13-15% of gross

UFC President Dana White has long voiced the goal of becoming bigger than the NFL, as a point along the path to becoming the world's most popular sport. However, Dave Meltzer, who has unparalleled knowledge of the MMA and prowrestling worlds, makes the case that the closest business model to the UFC is not the NFL (or other big four sports competitor, or boxing) but rather the WWE.

Within the mixed martial arts industry, those who complain about fighter pay continually throw out numbers, usually claiming that only 10 percent of revenue that UFC brings in trickles its way down to the fighters. That figure is ridiculous.

In an attempt to use figures based on Zuffa’s percentage of an 800,000-buy show, which is the rough industry estimate on UFC 141, the $3.1 million live gate, using listed fighter pay, announced bonuses, estimates of unannounced bonuses, and percentages of pay–per-view revenue built into the main eventers’ contracts, give you a very rough figure of 28 percent going to talent. However, for the Jan. 7, Strikeforce show in Las Vegas, with a very small gate figure and a full roster of fighters to pay, that figure could easily have been in the range of 50 percent.

UFC, as a business, is structured completely differently than the big four team sports, which pay closer to half of total revenue to the athletes. It’s also structured differently than boxing, where the major name fighters earn significantly more than UFC’s biggest draws. UFC has costs associated with producing and marketing shows, front-office expenses, and international expansion costs boxing organizations don’t have.

Virtually every UFC show will do at least 200,000 buys, but the top ceiling for the biggest events isn’t as high as in boxing, in part because there isn’t nearly the level of mainstream media coverage as there is for a Pacquiao or Mayweather fight. Plus, as a general rule, UFC pays undercard fighters better, and markets the shows around the top several matches on a card as opposed to just one killer main event.

The closest business model to UFC is that of World Wrestling Entertainment, which is believed to pay in the range of 13-15 percent of its total revenue to its performers. While some will argue WWE is a form of performance art and not a real athletic competition – and thus the performers don’t deserve as much money – the dollars WWE derives from its performers, who take a legitimate physical pounding, is every bit as green as those which UFC makes.

Both WWE and UFC employ hundreds of full-time front-office workers, so contrasting the percentage they pay to, say, an NFL team, isn’t necessarily a fair comparison.

From 2001-04, UFC lost tens of millions of dollars. If you are talking about what the fighters were earning then, which is a lot less than now, it was significantly more than the company could afford and remain in business for the long-term.

In fact, UFC nearly collapsed under the weight of the debt. But the company turned the corner in 2005 thanks to a deal with Spike TV, and has been running with significantly high EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) since that time. However, other operational costs remain, such as getting legalized nationwide and internationally, which no other professional sport has had to deal with.

UFC is not a monopoly, as there are untold numbers of smaller promotions around the country. One competitor, Bellator, is owned by media giant Viacom, which will have a very significant television deal with Spike starting in 2013.

LINK

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Post #15   1/17/12 1:58:17PM   
 
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