EDIT: (Sorry y'all, when i posted it totally jacked up my formatting. I did my best to fix it. If anyone wants the actual numbers, say so in the comments and I'll hit you with an email)
First things first: Good morning/afternoon/evening to all my fellow Maniacs! A quick update from the Life of Concrete: The Tiny Human is growing exponentially and developing quite the sassy attitude. Mrs. Concrete still puts up with me with a minimum of eye-rolls and swearing. And as for Mr. Concrete himself, well I've gotten a new job (kind of a dream job honestly) am selling my house, as well as graduating with a Master's in 6 weeks. It is an extremely busy time in my life...
...so what better way to spend that time than making a FanPost about fighter pay!!!
So the focus of this is not about contracts, what the fighters have signed for, what they should do any of that mess. Figure that shit out for yourselves.
This is a (VERY) simple model of a possible UFC pay-scale and how the lower end of fighters COULD potentially get paid more without a huge dent in the overall percentage of the UFC's revenue. With nothing but a wicked hangover, an Excel spreadsheet, some dodgy math, and some very spotty Googling I will attempt to put this together! Let's dive in: [If you want to skip everything and go straight to the conclusions feel free, just don't bitch at me if you miss something]
So to start, I'll lay out my assumptions. Yes, many of these can and will be wrong but they are made in the interests of simplifying things. Plus, again, I'm hungover. If you don't like it, just remember you clicked on my post and you can leave any damn time you please. From the assumptions, I'll go on to describe the methodology, then the results, and finally I will present my conclusions.
1) There are 607 male fighters and 117 female fighters for a total of 724 fighters (from Google)
2) All fighters will fight three times a year (yes, I know it doesn't work that way but work with me here. Call it an average if it makes you feel better)
3) There are four "pay brackets" for the men and three "pay brackets" for the women
3a) Male pay brackets:
The 1%ers: $1,000,000 to show/ $1,000,000 to win (Guys like JJ and CMac. The stars)
The 5%ers: $250,000 to show/$250,000 to win (Guys like Overeem or JDS [RIPIP]. Established vets, guys who aren't QUITE stars yet)
The Rest(79%ers): $50,000 to show/$50,000 to win (Entry level)
3b) Female Pay brackets:
The 1%ers: 750,000/750,000 (Amanda Nunes, Valentina)
The 5%ers: 150,000/150,000 (Not even gonna try, my head hurts)
The Rest (94%ers): 35,000/35,000
4) 15.38% of fighters receive a 50,000 bonus
4a) 15.38% was 4 bonus fighters out of 26 fighters per event (2 for FOTN, 2 for POTN)
4b) I pulled that out of my ass don't @ me...
5) The number of buyers for a PPV = 500,000. Again, I know this number fluctuates call it the average if it makes you feel better. OR kiss my ass, idc.
6) 12 PPVs a year
7) 2 title fights per PPV
8) Only 1 side of each title fight receives PPV points
9) $2.50 PPV points per buy
10) UFC Revenue is $900 million (Googlin'!)
11) Someone else figured out how to put the fighters into their proper "bracket." That ain't my job, I'm just doin' the numbahs.
12) The actual number of fighters in a bracket has to match the percentage number. So for the men, there can only be six 1%ers, thirty-one 5%ers, ninety-two 15%ers, etc.
13) Average UFC fighter pay right now is $147,965 (thanks Google)
Methodology (From some reason I can't make my screenshots appear and I'm too hungover to care.)
To get to our findings, first thing we need to do is calculate what the total payroll would be under this new "bracketed" scale.
To do this is simple; we multiply the bracket by the number of fighters, multiply that by the pay scale, and then multiply that by the number of fights per year. From there we'll multiply the resulting number by .5 to get the win bonus amount. Again, I know this isn't super accurate, I'm just ballparkin it with a hangover here. I know this is .5 multiplier is the dodgiest part of building this, but to get to the real multiplier would require a lot of web scraping and regression analysis that is frankly a shit load of work and the juice is not worth the squeeze in this case. So we're going with .5. Cut me some slack and shut it.
Anyways, from calculating the pay we see :
Men/ Show: /Win: /Women: /Show: /Win:
1% /18,210,000 /9,105,000 /1% /2,632,500 /1,316,250
5% /22,762,500 /11,381,250 /5% /2,632,500/ 1,316,250
15% /27,315,000/ 13,657,500/ 94%/ 11,547,900/ 5,773,950
79% /71,929,500 /35,694,750
Cool! We're off to a good start. Next we should calculate how much is paid out in bonuses. Remember, we made some assumptions about the bonuses and the percentages. We're gonna use those now: we multiply the percent receiving bonuses (explained in the assumptions) by the TOTAL number of fighters. Then we multiply that result by the $50,000 and round the result to the nearest 50k. Here are the results:
Fighters/ Bonus Amount/ %receiving bonus
724/ 50,000/ 15.38%
Total Bonus $
Wahoo! two-thirds of the way to establishing the total fighter pay under the $$$bconcrete$$$ model! The final step is establishing the PPV money certain fighters get. Again, we're gonna lean into our assumptions (and swear off alcohol yet again, forever, I mean it this time, please God make my head stop hurting). So, to establish the PPV numbers: we multiply the number of PPV events by the average number of PPV Buys; we multiply the result by the number of title fights per PPV, and multiply that by the PPV points. Here's our result:
PPV Points/ Avg PPV Buys/ #of PPV events/ #of title fights/PPV
2.5/ 500,000/ 12/ 2
Total PPV Money
Now to get the total amount paid to the athletes, we just add everything together. The show/win payroll, the PPV money, and the bonuses. Here we go:
Awesome, now we're almost done. We just divide that by the total number of fighters and we get an average fighter pay of:
My Estimated Avg Fighter Pay:
From Googlin' we know that the UFC's revenue is $900 million, the average fighter pay is $147,965, and the UFC pays them 16% of their Total Revenue. So, let's do a sanity check on what I just did (my wife would probably kill something to ever hear me say those words) by comparing my numbers to the current numbers. We'll take our Total Payroll number and divide that by the total number of fighters to get an average pay; and we'll divide our payroll by the revenue to get the pay percent of revenue:
Avg UFC Fighter Pay/ UFC Pay as % of revenue
My Estimated Avg Fighter Pay/ UFC Pay as % of revenue
So, by the UFC raising the amount they pay fighters (as a percentage of revenue) by 2%, they can increase the average fighter pay by about $75,000. Uncle Dana still keeps the lion's share of the money, he gets some good publicity for raising the floor of fighter wages, and can hopefully start attracting more and more talent now that fighting itself can be a viable career path that you don't need a second job to support. The vast majority of fighters benefit and although they won't be making NBA money; they'll be making enough to (hopefully) live fairly comfortably without a lot of the struggles most of the roster faces.
The problem though, is what it always is. That raise would come at the expense of about the top 6% of fighters (who are the biggest draws) who would have their earnings for fighting somewhat capped. We already see what a problem THAT is turning out to be. I personally think there are a variety of potentially creative solutions available, but the fighters would need to stand together to make them work. And so the world will keep turning, this will keep being an issue, and we will all keep arguing about it every damn time it crops up.
For those of you who read this, thanks for sticking around and listening to a hungover $$$bconcrete$$$ ramble on. Any questions on this hit me up in the comments
As always, stay hard as concrete my friends.