UFC Calls out ESPN on Fighter Salaries for Friday Night Fights: Why This Is Good

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIJanuary 16, 2012


ESPN just released a special Outside the Lines piece that questioned the salaries that the UFC pays its fighters. The piece focused on the expansion of the promotion and how some fighters made as low as $6,000 to show and $6,000 more if they won.

The piece was somewhat flawed because no fighter with the company was willing to speak publicly, so it was hard to verify what was true and what wasn't.

Still, the documentary had some impact even before it came on because Dana White threatened to get them back. He made mention that the UFC had filmed ESPN when they were interviewing one of the Fertitta brothers, who own the UFC, and would show some of the unaired footage.

The special aired and within hours the UFC put out a clip that showed Lorenzo Fertitta mentioning ESPN's worth and the fighter pay for Friday Night Fights.

Fertitta mentioned that for the billions of dollars the network makes, there have been boxers who walked away from four-round fights having made a few hundred dollars. He then stated that compared to that model the UFC starting contracts were generous.

The clip then ended with him saying that the UFC didn't make near the money that ESPN did.


It may be more convoluted then that, but much of the media and fans will latch on to the aired footage and use it as a way of damning ESPN for attacking a much-loved sport and the company that promotes it.

But there might be some benefits as well. If there is an uproar and backlash over the clip, ESPN could be shamed into throwing more money into FNF. Though the promoters are the ones who decided fighter salaries at the end of the day, if ESPN had more money to throw around the lower-tier fighters could potentially make more.

It may not be the way many boxing fans would prefer for the sport to get more money thrown at it, but at this point if it helps it doesn't matter. Besides, if ESPN does increase its budget for FNF it will prove boxing can be embarrassed into action.

Those who saw the clip could even tune in to see the next episode of fights and, as long as they deliver, make a few new fans. Luckily, next round of fights include Ruslan Provodnikov and Ji Hoon Kim, both of whom are exciting fighters.

The exposure isn't flattering, but at this point any press is good press.

Even if it means the UFC exposes ESPN.