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Should UFC Fighters Get Paid More?


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On 6/6/2020 at 6:39 PM, Carbomb said:

Sorry to miss out the rest of your post, but I've gone and overbooked my evening, and this kind of thread will probably dovetail into way more than we expected. Although, in fairness, I take your point on most of it.

However, this bit - I was more talking about building up Nunes for afterwards, rather than the PPV in isolation. By focusing solely on Rousey, and making absolutely nothing of Nunes, they basically got the golden goose for one more egg and then fucked it. Given how Nunes is basically a bantamweight Cyborg, they could've marketed her in the same way.

They didn't really market Cyborg either though, did they? again, the likes of Cyborg and Nunes isn't ever really going to appeal to the target demographic. I mean, sure, fans will watch Cyborg but she at least has a "Tong-Po from Kickboxer" look to her that sets her apart a little. Nunes just looks like an average girl.

On 6/6/2020 at 6:39 PM, Carbomb said:

I can only offer anecdotal evidence here, but I can tell you I did meet at the time a number of women, both martial arts enthusiasts and casuals, who were very enthusiastic about Rousey's fight, citing her as the prime reason they were tuning into the UFC for that PPV. She'd been built up as this positive, groundbreaking woman martial artist in a male-dominated sport (despite being a bully, a homewrecker, a Sandy Hooker and a wanker). Even my sister, who's not really into MMA, tuned in for her.

I get your point, but as I've said in the past, this is a sport where we basically watch two people go into a wire-mesh cage and batter fuck out of each other in front of a baying crowd.

The target audience for this is only ever going to be fairly limited for the most part. I know some women will look at Rousey as a groundbreaking woman in a tough sport, but I don't think that means said women are going to become fans. At the end of the day, it's still people in a cage causing harm to each other, and that has limited appeal.

The UFC knows exactly who their audience is, and they know how to tap into that audience. I blast Dana for a lot of things, but I've grown to realise that he knows his shit. I always thought his attitude and how he carries himself was bad for the sport, but I was wrong. I'm not ashamed to admit that. How he carries himself actually appeals to the majority who watch it.

On 6/6/2020 at 6:39 PM, Carbomb said:

Given that Nunes is the only one of those two who's continued to have a career, and a hell of a career at that, becoming the first UFC women's two-weight champ, the woman to retire Rousey, the first to beat Cyborg in yonks and conclusively, and the first gay UFC champ, I still feel that the UFC promotional machine could've done a lot more than they did to give her a higher profile, and continue to retain the women's and LGBTQ+ share of the market.

Does the UFC really have much of a following with the LGBTQ community? I have a couple of gay friends who fucking hate the sport because of its overly-misogynistic and "ladz being hard as fuck" attitude. They listen to Dana and fighters refer to each other as pussies and bitches and turn their nose up at it, and rightfully so.

Again, I really doubt the UFC have any plans to try and tap into the LGBTQ market beyond the odd branded t-shirt and suchlike.

In fact, so little does Dana give a fuck about appealing to minorities that only last night he basically ridiculed a reporter who asked if the company would be following a lot of other sports leagues in putting out a statement on the protests and so on. He simply wasn't having it. He knows that line will offend some fans, but they're so small in number it won't make any difference. 

In fact, I'd wager that if he did put out a statement on behalf of the company that many fans would shit on them for it. "Keep this bullshit political crap out of sports, brah!" "What about the police and armed forces who risk their lives, dude?!?" You know how it would go.

The UFC has their audience down to a tee, and they know what they want. It's predominantly white males, aged 18-40, who support Trump, hate "liberal bullshit" and who support the armed forces and police unwaveringly. There are obviously the outliers to that, but that's who they aim for as it makes up the vast majority from what I've seen.

23 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

That wasn‚Äôt what the UFC thought they were doing at the time though. Who was it on Rogan‚Äôs podcast a while back who said actual UFC execs saw Nunes¬†as nothing but ‚Äúcannon fodder‚ÄĚ for Rousey‚Äôs big triumphant comeback?

Probably Rogan in all honesty. Mind when he claimed Rousey was a female Mike Tyson? Baddest woman in the sport, all that jazz?

22 hours ago, Carbomb said:

I think I've probably been a bit unclear here - it's not that I think they should've promoted her over Rousey for that match, it's more that they should've promoted her at least a decent bit, being, y'know, the actual champion, and then, after she beasted Rousey and Cyborg, pushed her as the 135 Cyborg.

Promoted her to who though? The fans who are interested in fighters for their ability already knew who she was, they didn't need told about her. And as I said above, she simply doesn't have what it takes to draw new fans into paying money to see her. 

The important thing about that card at the time was making sure that casual part-time fans knew Ronda Rousey was fighting. The type who don't read MMA sites, don't listen to Luke fucking Thomas, don't follow Dana on Twitter and so on. It was them who had to be reached.

As far as pushing her as the 135lbs Cyborg afterwards, they didn't even push the actual Cyborg, never mind a new version of her. Cyborg's biggest name opponent until she fought Nunes was Holly Holm, and heading the UFC 219 card they drew between 340,000 & 380,000, which was considered a pleasant surprise at the time.

To resonate with the UFC audience, and the type of people who will actually shell out cash to watch an event, a female fighter will have to bring many of the same qualities Rousey did. Namely she'll need to be fluent in English, easy on the eye, straight, and be not only be willing to get naked for a magazine of some kind, but have the kind of body that the predominantly male audience will want to look at.

It's not right, but that's how it is. This is a sport where people fight in a cage. The audience is what it is, as Dana would say.

10 hours ago, ColinBollocks said:

Another way of looking at this is 48-50% of NFL, MLB and NBA revenue goes towards paying their players, while UFC (with their reported $900M revenue) pay their fighters just 15-16%. I appreciate the three sports I mentioned have significantly higher revenues but that doesn't mean, in the future when all is well (more on that), there can be at least some wiggle room. They were also rumored to be paying $300M in dividends to their investors this year ($150M going to Endeavour) before the pandemic, while the fighters scrap it out for their shared $150M pot. Can they afford to pay the fighters more, Clive? Yes. Will they? Probably not. I think David's point that it's the lower ranked fighters that are getting shafted most is good.

As I said, the fighters who are generating money and who are worth paying? They're getting paid. Sure, they can cry about wanting Deontay Wilder money, and point at the NFL, but the truth is, the UFC is never going to be the NFL or NBA. The appeal is too narrow for that, and the sponsors that even boxing can get? Many of them won't touch cage fighting. It's as simple as that.

Fighter pay has risen as the company has grown. That's not a popular stance, but it's true. If someone had told us ten years ago that there would be non-champions in the UFC getting $2 million payouts for fighting we'd likely have laughed in their faces. It simply wasn't possible at the time.

Now it is, and those payouts may grow even more if and when the sport progresses. It won't ever reach mainstream sports level in my view, but it could certainly improve on where it is just now.

The problem is, the lower end fighters are always going to be paid next to fuck all, simply because they bring next to fuck all to the table. I know that's harsh, but it's true. How many of us would decide to not watch a card if a prelim fell off? No one.

Let's look at the first two cards of 2020 as an example. 

UFC 246, McGregor vs Cowboy. We all know why fans are buying that event. What did it sell? Close to 2 million PPV's? How many of those buyers tuned in to watch Roxanne Modafferi? Tim Elliott? Or Drew Dober? Outside their immediate family and friends? absolutely no one.

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Dos Santos was next. Who tuned into that to even see the main eventers in particular, never mind the likes of Brett Johns or Herbert Burns? 

So while I agree from a moral standpoint that the lower end fighters are being underpaid, I also think that the UFC could easily do away with them altogether if we're honest. They don't need them. I know for a fact that I wouldn't be upset about not seeing them.

If the UFC announced tomorrow that they were limiting prelim fights to only two at most, would anyone complain?

Fighters at the lower end should be more focused on honing their skills and finding a way to set themselves apart from the crowd, as that's the way to bigger paydays. It can be done, we've seen it happen. But, for every Sean O'Malley there's numerous nobodies who aren't putting themselves out there. 

@wandshogun09 posting that response from Maynard? I see Maynard saying that, and i have to ask, who the fuck forced him to sign the contract? You can't get offered a deal, accept it, then moan like fuck about it.

If you think you're worth more, go elsewhere and earn more.

12 minutes ago, Carbomb said:

In all honesty, didn't know DJ said that. That's bloody stupid. He was one of the immediate examples I had in mind when I first posted; he's not a natural PR guy, and I just thought it was off that one of the best P4P guys in MMA and the longest-reigning champ in the UFC couldn't command a bit more respect from White and co. But there's a difference between being not good at something and being actively bad at it. That's something a promoter in fact has to work to salvage! The least a fighter can do in this regard is not make the job more difficult, even if he can't help make it easier. 

Demetrious Johnson is another one. A great fighter, but bland as fuck. He was earning $380,000 base pay for his UFC fights, and considering he couldn't sell a PPV to his own family he should probably be considered lucky to make that kind of dough.

The fact that Mouse has fucked off to ONE and literally no one really cares says it all. 

As is the case for a lot of these fighters who are skilled athletes but not a draw, they just need to accept that there's a ceiling as to how much they can earn. Their earnings will be based on what they pull in, and I don't think the likes of Gray Maynard and Mighty Mouse are generating many dollars.

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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

I think you have the deal wrong there. It's nothing for the first 200,00 regardless of how the show does. $1 per buy for 200k to 400k $2 for 400k to 600k and $2.5 for any buys over 600k. So an 80

I think I've probably been a bit unclear here - it's not that I think they should've promoted her over Rousey for that match, it's more that they should've promoted her at least a decent bit, being, y

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Regarding Cyborg:

She was actually one of Strikeforce's biggest draws between 2009 and 2011. Whether that was because of her win over Carano or Scott Coker's promotional skills is open to debate. But the numbers she drew proved that she was marketable to an extent. Later on, Dana and the UFC didn't do anything special to promote her, largely because they didn't need to. They just leeched off the popularity she had gained in Strikeforce. 

Is it possible that a MMA fighter could bring a segment of the LGBTQ community to the sport? I actually think it is. In 2005, few would have predicted that a female fighter would have drawn as many females to the sport. Yet, Rousey managed to do so. A large percentage of the 450k or so fans who bought Rousey's first UFC fight with Carmouche had never purchased a UFC PPV beforehand. A lot of those fans were women. 

It's just a matter of the right fighter coming along at the right time. However, it's likely that Dana and the UFC will not deliberately set out to "push" this fighter. It's more that said fighter would rise to the top organically, based on their own merits as a fighter and their personality traits. The UFC would then take advantage and promote them accordingly (as they did with Rousey, and to a lesser degree Cyborg).

Edited by jimufctna24
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It's always possible to draw a new segment of the market. The LGBTQ community isn't monolithic - there are plenty of people across the entire spectrum of society that'll tune in to combat sports. That the UFC aren't drawing the pink pound doesn't mean they can't. And I doubt the Two-Can Van Dammes will stop watching en masse just because of an influx of MMgays.

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3 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

Regarding Cyborg:

She was actually one of Strikeforce's biggest draws between 2009 and 2011. Whether that was because of her win over Carano or Scott Coker's promotional skills is open to debate. But the numbers she drew proved that she was marketable to an extent. Later on, Dana and the UFC didn't do anything special to promote her, largely because they didn't need to. They just leeched off the popularity she had gained in Strikeforce. 

Was she really one of Strikeforce's biggest draws, though? She headlined one event, and that was primarily because she was going up against Gina Carano. The rest of her stint with Strikeforce, the numbers don\t really reflect her being on the card as much as they do the main event at the time. Was she part of the overall package? Yes, but she wasn't a reason people would tune in in great numbers I don't think.

For example, Shamrock vs Diaz, Fedor vs Werdum, Hershel Walker fighting and so on. If we're honest, those were the attractions on those cards. If she was legit one of their biggest draws she'd have main evented more shows, surely?

That Carano did kind of backs up my theory. She was Rousey-lite before Rousey came along, wasn't she? Starred in the Ring Girls movie, she was in the Fight Girls television series and she was an American Gladiator on that television show.

Carano was successful in no small part because she was incredibly easy on the eye. MMA fans, for the most part, love a good-looking girl who can kick ass and flash a winning smile and a wink after doing so.

Cyborg and Nunes don't fit that bill, unfortunately. That's why they aren't huge stars.

3 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

Is it possible that a MMA fighter could bring a segment of the LGBTQ community to the sport? I actually think it is. In 2005, few would have predicted that a female fighter would have drawn as many females to the sport. Yet, Rousey managed to do so. A large percentage of the 450k or so fans who bought Rousey's first UFC fight with Carmouche had never purchased a UFC PPV beforehand. A lot of those fans were women.

Even when Rousey was on top of the card you'd see 81.8% of the buyers being male, as opposed to 89.7% when she's not. If you take away the surge in overall interest in Rousey, would it have been worth the companies time to promote the hell out of her for such a small return? I doubt it. 

It was that increase in mainstream fans of both sexes that made it worthwhile promoting Rousey as they did. Like I said, she saw a lot of interest because she was a movie star, she was on the cover of ESPN magazine and so on.

She was a celebrity, and she was hot. That was key.

2 hours ago, Carbomb said:

It's always possible to draw a new segment of the market. The LGBTQ community isn't monolithic - there are plenty of people across the entire spectrum of society that'll tune in to combat sports. That the UFC aren't drawing the pink pound doesn't mean they can't. And I doubt the Two-Can Van Dammes will stop watching en masse just because of an influx of MMgays.

At the very peak of Rousey's appeal, with actual female divisions and a bona fide superstar leading the charge, the increase in women following the sport didn't even hit double digits. 

Rousey was so successful because she wasn't just a woman, she was a hot, athletic, movie-star celebrity woman. She attracted more males than females to watch her when she was fighting.

It's not as if the UFC went out chasing the female demographic. Females happened to be a small percentage of the fans who watched Rousey, but it was the overall surge in PPV buyers that got the UFC interested in backing her.

Someone like Nunes is never going to do that. I'm sure she already has fans from the LGBTQ community who watch her, but the percentage of fans from that market is so small that it's not even worth the UFC's time to consider looking at them in particular. Fuck, the UFC are still trying to really figure out how to nab some of the Mexican boxing fanbase, and that's a demographic that already loves fighting and has a lot of good fighters to get behind!

The main thrust of this part of the debate was that the UFC 100% made the right choice to focus entirely on Rousey when she fought Nunes. Nunes isn't going to sell anywhere close to Rousey did, and no amount of marketing push will change that.

There's a ceiling for some fighters, and Nunes is up there with Mighty Mouse when it comes to the ceiling being quite low in comparison to their ability in-cage. They just aren't stars. You can't make just anyone into a star. They either have it, or they don't.

And if they do have it, they'll show it and the company will get behind them. Sean O'Malley is a case in point. He's going to be a star. 

I doubt Nunes is upset mind you, she's earning $350,000 or so per fight, which isn't chump change, and is about right for what she brings to the table.

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1 hour ago, David said:

Was she really one of Strikeforce's biggest draws, though?

She was largely responsible for the strong number that the Melendez vs Masvidal card posted on Showtime in December of 2011. She was easily the biggest name on that show. Shows headlined by Diaz and the HW GP drew quite a bit less around that period. 

She was also partially responsible for the strong number that the Strikeforce: Miami pulled on Showtime in January of 2010. 

From memory, Rousey and Fedor were Strikeforce's biggest draws. Then Cyborg. I would add Gina, but she only fought for the promotion twice, one of which was with Cyborg. 

1 hour ago, David said:

Even when Rousey was on top of the card you'd see 81.8% of the buyers being male, as opposed to 89.7% when she's not. If you take away the surge in overall interest in Rousey, would it have been worth the companies time to promote the hell out of her for such a small return? I doubt it. 

It was that increase in mainstream fans of both sexes that made it worthwhile promoting Rousey as they did. Like I said, she saw a lot of interest because she was a movie star, she was on the cover of ESPN magazine and so on.

She was a celebrity, and she was hot. That was key.

Source? 

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7 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

She was largely responsible for the strong number that the Melendez vs Masvidal card posted on Showtime in December of 2011. She was easily the biggest name on that show. Shows headlined by Diaz and the HW GP drew quite a bit less around that period. 

She was also partially responsible for the strong number that the Strikeforce: Miami pulled on Showtime in January of 2010. 

From memory, Rousey and Fedor were Strikeforce's biggest draws. Then Cyborg. I would add Gina, but she only fought for the promotion twice, one of which was with Cyborg. 

Fair enough, I'll concede on that point because I can't really see any hard evidence to either support or deny that. I still don't think she would have been a real star in the UFC though. She was a great fighter, and there was certainly the curiosity value, but I don't see a woman who has the athletic build of a man, and who's popped for PED's, ragdolling women who are mostly smaller than her being much of a selling point.

Bear in mind that I'm a Cyborg fan. She's one of the few female MMA fighters I'd tune in for, but I was the exception rather than the rule. Female MMA has seen two proper stars in its short life so far.

Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey. Both of them very good looking, decent in-cage fighters, and both of them were movie or television stars outside of it. It's no coincidence.

7 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

Source?

This piece here. And don't get me wrong, at that stage seeing any non-male interest in the UFC is a positive thing and is and should be framed as such, but I don't think the interest is or was anywhere near enough for the UFC to specifically target it. It was a welcome bonus, but the majority of Rousey's numbers were male-driven.

Seeing female interest in MMA is a good thing, but I think for the most part women have never been fans of brutal violence. How many women watch boxing? That's usually the domain of the chest-thumping testosterone-fuelled males who love nothing better than playing soldiers and being the dominant tough guy.

As I said, they still have to pin down the Mexican audience properly, and that's one that is conditioned for combat sports, and for which there's a whole load of potential talent to fill the spot needed. If the UFC are going to focus on any demographics, it'll be that I'd think.

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25 minutes ago, David said:

This piece here. And don't get me wrong, at that stage seeing any non-male interest in the UFC is a positive thing and is and should be framed as such, but I don't think the interest is or was anywhere near enough for the UFC to specifically target it. It was a welcome bonus, but the majority of Rousey's numbers were male-driven.

Cheers.

That number doesn't quite do Rousey's popularity with female viewers justice. Rousey's fight with Correia drew around 900k. Whereas the average non-Rousey UFC PPV around that time drew roughly 500k.

Thus:

18% of 900k = 162k buys.

10% of 500k = 50k buys

It it is clear that Rousey was attracting more males to MMA than females though. Point taken. 

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And again, don't get me wrong, I'm fully behind the idea of a diverse fanbase, as it helps keep things interesting and ensures support for a wider variation of fighters, but my main point is that there's not really enough interest to warrant the UFC catering to them specifically. It's not financially viable really.

If another female MMA fighter comes along in the next few years who fits the Rousey/Carano bill then we'll undoubtedly see a spike in female viewers again, along with a much larger spike overall.

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So we have Jon Jones, Henry Cejudo, Conor McGregor and Jorge Masvidal all going through money disputes/negotiations with the UFC, in quite a public manner. Two questions:

A) Which top level fighter is next to join them in the ruffled feathers club, and

B) Who breaks first and reaches a compromise in order to fight later this year. 

I can see Stipe being an awkward customer again, after the Cormier fight, giving Dana a few more headaches. 

Cejudo will probably be the easiest and cheapest to appease and will likely get a bump in pay to come back later in the year, without it hurting the UFC's back pockets particularly hard. 

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Is McGregor's beef cash-related? I thought he was just a bit irked that he wasn't getting the fight he wanted? The timeline that is being set for Khabib vs Gaethje, then even if he gets the winner it's looking like December or January?

And that the UFC turned down his ridiculous Anderson Silva request?

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48 minutes ago, David said:

Is McGregor's beef cash-related? I thought he was just a bit irked that he wasn't getting the fight he wanted? The timeline that is being set for Khabib vs Gaethje, then even if he gets the winner it's looking like December or January?

And that the UFC turned down his ridiculous Anderson Silva request?

There seems to be a bit of speculation going around that the UFC doesn't want to book him in a fight without a crowd, so as not to miss out on the $10Million or so of a live gate he would bring in. So I guess it's not directly contract related, but somewhat money related. If that is actually the case of course.

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That makes perfect sense to be honest. I doubt McG would be happy to take a drop in income if he was booked to fight in front of an empty arena. So why should the UFC be happy to drop that kind of coin?

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So, apparently Masvidal was offered the same money to face Usman as he got for the Diaz fight, which means he'd be getting a base pay of $500,000 and PPV points. He knocked it back.

Here's the thing. The dude just signed an 8 fight deal after the Askren fight. That was July of last year. Now he doesn't want to honour that? Sorry Jorge, that's not how it works in the professional world.

The reason he was happy to sign that new deal is because it saw his base pay more than quadruple from the $100,000 to show/$100,000 to win that he got in the Askren fight (which was likely the ceiling for the terms of his old deal), to $500,000 flat. 

If he'd lost to Askren he'd have went home with $100,000 in his pocket. Instead, he managed to parlay that win into a new eight fight deal that saw him get $500,000 for his first fight on his new deal.

Now,what? He wants to renegotiate for even more? How would it feel if he'd lost to Diaz and the UFC said "Listen Jorge, we've decided we want to renegotiate your new deal down a couple of hundred grand."

He'd have been bitching and moaning about how the company should honour his contract and so on.

If the deal was no good, don't fucking sign it. It's that simple, dude. You were happy to accept the 8 fight deal with the increase in pay until you saw what was there to be earned with PPV points as well.

Well, PPV points weren't part of your deal. That was a one-off for the Diaz fight. They're a discretionary bonus that the UFC can offer on a fight by fight basis. You take them if offered.

But even then, the UFC called him up and offered him the same deal to face Usman as he got to face Diaz and he says no, that the UFC are trying to strong-arm him.

Fuck off, Jorge. The company is losing million in gate revenue every event at the moment and you're wanting to negotiate for more money one fight into a new eight fight deal? Who the fuck is advising this guy? Seriously?

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Wait a sec - if he's getting offered PPV points, what's his actual objection? That the base pay isn't enough?

Fucking weirdo.

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