Endeavor, parent company of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), posted record-breaking revenue for the first half of 2021, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise after it milked two fights from Conor McCashcow over the last several months.
“Notorious” is the most profitable fighter in UFC history.
The 2021 second-quarter highlights from Endeavor’s recent press release include:
- Revenue increased to $1.1 billion, up approximately $650 million compared with Q2 of 2020
- Q2 marked by a return of live events and audiences, as well as an increase in both productions and content deliveries
- UFC’s Q2 performance – including three sold-out, arena record Pay-Per-View events – led to biggest first half in UFC history
- $600 million repayment of outstanding debt in advance of Q3 target
Endeavor’s 2021 revenue is expected to land between $4.8 and $4.85 billion.
Those numbers might be hard to swallow for up-and-coming fighters like Sarah Alpar, who was so broke she needed to start a GoFundMe page to help pay for training expenses. Even established veterans like Miesha Tate are struggling to break even.
“My whole fight purse was gone, show and win for this fight, I at least spent … it had to be about 98 percent at least, so maybe I walked away with a little bit,” Tate told SiriusXM. “But of $200,000? Yeah I’m just lucky I made a bonus. I’m serious, that’s how much it cost. You take taxes off the top, 70 percent of my fight purse is gone immediately, right off the top. So I have 30 percent to work with and that 30 percent I take to buy my organic foods to get whatever training gear, my heart rate monitors, whatever other things that I need to invest in to make the camp go well and it’s expensive.”
Tate, who once held the women’s bantamweight title, returned from a four-year absence to capture a technical knockout victory over 135-pound veteran Marion Reneau as part of the UFC Vegas 31 event last month in “Sin City.”
“It’s very expensive to facilitate the things I need,” Tate continued. “Training different places, especially when your head coach is remote, is in Spokane, and you know so I fly him down, fly him back. Flying out to Denver to go and train with Trevor Wittman, getting to Southern California to train with Training Labs. All the supplements I’ve had to invest in, and things like that as well. It’s a lot more expensive than people would think, you know it’s not as glorious and that’s why it’s like you really cannot set out to do this for the money.”
Fighters like former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones continue to speak out against the promotion’s current pay structure, but all that did was land “Bones” a spot on the bench. Probably because other fighters are willing to compete for less.
“If you really want to be the best, investing in yourself is pricey, very very pricey,” Tate said. “But I’m doubling down on myself because I know the money is when you have the belt, when you get those pay-per-view dollars, that’s real money. Then we’re talking. The rest of this fighting stuff is like … we’re not making a killing, but I’m investing in myself because I believe in myself. I know I can become a champion again. I’m doing this because I want to.”
As promotion president Dana White once said, “you eat what you kill.”