Documents Revealed: UFC Previously Ordered A Study On Fighter Pay

According to some unsealed documents in the UFC’s anti-trust lawsuit, the UFC undertook a study on fighter pay in 2013.

The former UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta claimed in 2012 that fighters were paid “not far off what the other sports leagues pay as a percentage of revenue,” close to being “in that neighborhood” of 50 percent. Those comments received a backlash, with many suspecting that the UFC was not paying anywhere near that.

In 2013, Fertitta hired a global consulting firm, Mercer, to undertake a study on fighter pay. This involved gathering salary information from many sports leagues. One particular study showed the UFC paid 18.6 percent of its total revenue to fighters. This was way less than Major League Soccer, which paid 76 percent, at the top of the list. Men’s tennis came close to the UFC at 23.5 percent, while the other combat sport of boxing was 62.5 percent. In the other major US Sports, the NFL, NBA and MLB, athletes get around 50 percent of the revenue.

The study is relevant in light of the UFC’s anti-trust lawsuit. A lawsuit was filed by former UFC fighters in 2014, which included Cung LeJon Fitch and Kyle Kingsbury. This was because of alleged anti-competitive measures to destroy competition, thus controlling what a fighter could get paid. If the UFC is found guilty, the damages would be into the billions. The study on fighter pay has gotten MMA fans questioning the UFC’s pay structure. 

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