Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, recently told his Twitter followers that 2019 will prove to be the biggest year in the history of the promotion. I would embed that tweet for you below, but unfortunately White blocked me on Twitter.
Probably for writing posts like this.
As you might expect from a combat sports sports promoter, there’s some wiggle room in his definition of “biggest,” though I would imagine we are all in agreement that he probably means highest revenue now that ESPN has done most of the check writing.
“According to the various projections made by the company back in 2016, the total revenue in 2019 would be anywhere from $980 million to $1.1 billion and their EBITDA margins would be 50 percent,” business analyst John Nash explained on Bloody Elbow. “While I do not think they did that well, the new ESPN deal had added hundreds of millions to their guaranteed contractual revenue. Add in new international TV deals and increased sponsorship revenue and it’s hard to see how they don’t break the record. At least $800 million in revenue seems almost guaranteed.”
To the victor belong the spoils.
I suppose now would be a good time to mention that Shana Dobson, a three-fight UFC veteran who also competed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), makes $12,000 per fight. And that’s $2,000 more per fight than “Contender Series” winner Punahele Soriano, whose guaranteed purse for UFC 245 was a pathetic $10,000.
Is there no room in that $7 billion for a pay increase?
I understand that UFC has expenses that go far beyond fighter salaries, particularly when it comes to putting on big budget productions all over the world. I also understand that as UFC becomes bigger and more expansive, more opportunities will be created for the fighting community, from athlete to trainer to towel boy.
All it costs in return is a couple of years off your life.