David Posted June 6, 2020 Share Posted June 6, 2020 Spinning off a discussion surrounding Jon Jones and now Jorge Masvidal on fighter pay, I thought this deserved a topic on its own. Question is, should fighters be paid more? It's easy to just say "yeah," but I think there's a bit more to be looked at before coming to a conclusion. So, here's my viewpoint based on the limited info that us plebs have on the matter. UFC fighter pay tiers Looking at the current fighter pay scale it seems to me that the rule of thumb is as follows: Tier 1 At the top of the tree is Conor McGregor, unsurprisingly. He made a flat $3 million base pay for his fights with Cowboy, Khabib and Eddie Alvarez. He also gets a share of the PPV spoils. Second as far as earnings go of late is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who made $2 million base against Conor, and a whopping $6 million flat to face Poirier, although I think the location of that event had a part to play in that payday. Khabib was clearly the guy that the UAE wanted on the card, and they paid top dollar for him. Tier 2 Taking those two outlier fights out of the equation, Khabib made $530,000 when he fought Iaquinta for the title, which seems more comparable with the UFC model. Will he go back to earning that kind of money when he returns? It'll be interesting to see, and if he doesn't, it'll add fuel to the fire that Jones and Masvidal are looking to start. With all things being equal, I think the second tier below Conor and the odd exception is the $500,000 category, and this includes the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington & Nate Diaz along with some champions like Jon Jones, Israel Adesanya, and Kamaru Usman. So in this bracket we're looking at the champions of the lightweight mens division and above, along with the bigger names who don't hold a title, like Colby Covington, Nate Diaz and masvidal. Tier 3 This looks to be anywhere from $250,000 to $350,000 base per fight.This is where the lighter weight champions come into play, such as Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski & Henry Cejudo. It's also where the female champions are to be found, with the likes of Amanda Nunes clearing $350,000. We can also find fringe-names like Yoel Romero here, clearing $350,000 for his last few fights. There's also the odd exception "name" fighter on the back-end of his career who is still on decent coin, like both Alistair Overeem and Jose Aldo who clear $400,000 base for their fights. Tier 4 The fighters in this bracket can vary wildly from earning as little as $20,000 to fight and win to earning as much as $150,000. PPV Points An interesting point of conversation, and after the UFC Anti-Trust lawsuit it's easier to get a decent idea of what that PPV points means in dollars. So, apparently it works something like this: Fighters get $1 for every PPV sold between 200,000 and 400,000. They get $2 for every PPV sold between 400,000 and 600,000. And they get $2.50 for every PPV sold over 600,000. As I mentioned in the other thread, an example would be Masvidal who took home the following for his bout with Nate Diaz: Going on the basis of UFC 244 selling 925,000 buys, Masvidal would have received 200,000 x $1, 200,000 x $2, and finally 350,000 x $2.50. That's a total of $200,000 + $400,000 + $875,000. So, on PPV points alone Street Jesus took home $1.475 million. Add that to his disclosed base pay of $500,000 to fight and $20,000 fight week appearance money and Masvidal earned $1.995 million for his fight with Nate, before taxes and any other bonuses he would have gotten from Reebok or other shit like that. That's decent coin. It's easier to see now where Conor makes his money. His bout with Khabib, for example: $3 million base pay to show and fight, and a PPV points breakdown like this: $200,000 x 1, $200,000 x 2, and $1.8 million x $2.50. That comes to $200,000 + $400,000 + $4.5 million. Totals up to $5.1 million from PPV revenue alone. Chuck in his $3 million base pay and he's taking home $8.1 million from base and PPV revenue. I'm sure he makes a bit more than that through other means, but I've long believed that the number McG throws out there are vastly over-inflated. Still a decent wedge though. Expenses I've read the article in The Athletic about fighter expenses such as training, taxes, travel and so on. In all honesty, I don't know what they expect the UFC to do in that regard. Taxes and travel are a cost that have to be covered. Do they want the UFC flying them all out, paying for training camps and covering tax as well? It's not ideal, but if a fighter is good enough and marketable enough they'll rise through the tiers I've documented above. Sure, not everyone is a Conor McGregor, but it's possible for a good fighter to make $1 million-plus in their fights. Conclusion There's certainly more the UFC can do for fighter pay, but at the same time it's up to the fighters themselves to make themselves marketable. I hate using McG, but he's a great example. Without his talk and non-stop shilling of himself he's easily a $500,000 fighter at best, and most likely a $350,000 fighter at this point. Fighters need to get themselves into a position where fans are willing to pay cold, hard cash to watch them fight. It's crazy to complain about money but then do nothing to make yourself marketable. The company need to be making more money off you in order to pay you more. It's the fighters in the 4th tier who need the most help in my opinion. I'd like to see a minimum fighter base pay of $50,000 per fight to show, with another $20,000 or so to win. The problem there is that if the UFC did that they'd be cutting a whole lot of fighters who simply aren't worth that kind of cash, and we'd see guys and girls given less opportunity to rebound from losses. You'd see someone go on a 2 fight skid, the company figure there isn't much chance of them making it to the top two tiers, and they cut them loose. Maybe we'd get higher quality cards and fights though? I think the answer for the top guys complaining is to throw them PPV points on the regular when they main event a card. Masvidal? PPV points for your fights when you main event a card. If you're as valuable as you think you are it'll show in the numbers. If fans don't buy in numbers you'll earn fuck all. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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