I'm sure this will go over big with the boys bemoaning the ZUFFA pay scale.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will generate roughly $600 million in revenue for 2015 -- a company record -- thanks to big business at the pay-per-view (PPV) box office. In addition, media rights and exclusive sponsorships (like this one) are undoubtedly lining a few pockets.
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta talks to CNN:
"We'll generate about $600 million in revenue for the year 2015, which is a record for the company and it's a fairly significant growth coming off 2014. The exciting part of the platform that we've built is that we've been able to embrace different tiers of revenue. We have our basic pay-per-view business, that is our biggest source of revenue. Then we have our media rights, which is really similar to rights that we sell to FOX for all of the programming we give them. And then we have embraced the over-the-top platforms, where we launched UFC Fight Pass, which is a subscription service of $9.99 per month where you can access the entire UFC library and we also put live exclusive UFC events from around the world on that format, as well as original programming. So we really have those three sources of revenue to generate, three ways to monetize our contacts."
As far as the controversy over UFC fighter pay? That's on the fighter, not the promotion, according to Fertitta.
"At the end of the day, it's an absolute open market. There are multiple bidders in the marketplace. In fact, our number one competitor is Bellator, which is owned by Viacom, which has significantly more resources than we do even though we are the leading brand in this space. The fact of the matter is, out top athletes are making mutli-millions of dollars. And what is happening is as the sport grows and compensation goes up and revenue goes up, you're starting to see that the guys and girls at the top are commanding a larger share of that pie. I think you see that in every sport, every business. It's the athletes who make a difference that people want to pay for that are commanding the big dollars."
2015 saw the rise of current UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor, as the "Notorious" Irishman headlined a pair of big-time PPV events. In addition, Ronda Rousey -- despite her fall at UFC 193 -- was responsible for her fair share of PPV purchases.
Impressive, considering the world's preeminent mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion lost former champions Anderson Silva and Jon Jones right out of the gate (and still did not have this guy).
It will be interesting to see if UFC -- armed with this -- can maintain its upward trajectory in 2016.