What should mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters be paid?
That depends on who you ask. According to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White, you eat what you kill, so if you’re a megastar like Conor McGregor, you get the lion’s share of promotional payouts.
If you're not? Go fight somewhere else.
But that sort of organizational discretion led a handful of MMA fighters to file an antitrust lawsuit against the world’s most profitable combat sports club (details), which could result in “enormous damages” if boxing payouts are used comparatively when establishing salary baselines in MMA.
From Paul Gift at Forbes:
“Plaintiffs allege that the UFC illegally maintained and enhanced its monopsony power in the market for elite, professional fighter services resulting in reduced compensation from that which would’ve prevailed in a competitive market. According to a plaintiffs' reply brief, their expert witnesses “intend to utilize the compensation levels paid by boxing promoters as a ‘benchmark’ to determine what compensation levels would approximate in the market for Elite Professional Mixed Martial Artists, but-for the alleged anticompetitive conduct engaged in by [the UFC].”
UFC lawsuits are all the rage these days.
Fighters (like this guy) have continued to be critical of UFC payouts over the past several years, along with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who may be forced to hand over his financial data in support of the plaintiffs.
And you thought this made him uncomfortable.
Regardless of what happens with this most recent petition, the UFC lawsuit is likely to drag on for several years. We're already approaching the three-year anniversary of filing and we’re just now transitioning from discovery stage to expert stage.
Just what the new owners wanted.