The UFC has done a great job becoming a billion-dollar company by making money off the blood of the fighters, according to Tito Ortiz.
During an appearance on Submission Radio, the UFC Hall of Famer described the promotion as a well-oiled machine piggybacking off of those willing to throw on a pair of four-ounce gloves and lay everything on the line:
UFC pay out to the fighters, in general, about six percent of the revenue that is collected from the fans. That is it. Six percent is what the fighters make. Does that sound fair to you? So they’re making 94 percent of the money all across the board. The fighters don’t make anything fair, zero. They’re giving their life and everything they possibly can, and they have nothing to fall back on.
The subject of the fighter pay discrepancy between the UFC and fighters has been an ongoing issue for years.
As the UFC continues to expand globally, many are left wondering why the numbers of the base payout for fighters look so pedestrian in comparison to professional athletes from other sports. Fighter pay is a controversial topic that fighters usually stay away from, but the ever-revolving door of the UFC has led to a select group of individuals spilling the beans on the promotion’s quiet operation.
Former title contender Nate Quarry wrote in a post on the MMA Underground, per Bloody Elbow, that the UFC “cares nothing about the fighters and only cares about the bottom line.” He even revealed that sponsorship money was hard to come by due to the hefty tax the UFC places on any would-be sponsors.
Longtime welterweight contender Jon Fitch went the extra mile in documenting the disproportionate payout in his overall earnings as a UFC fighter in a YouTube video.
Outside of the usual reported base payouts, the rest of the MMA world is left in the dark on the actual salaries of UFC fighters. It’s only fair to note that White is known for handing out discretionary locker room bonuses that go unnoted in the base-payout releases.
But none of it adds up for Ortiz, who likens the UFC to a cutthroat business. He explains that fighters who sign a contract with the Zuffa-owned promotion are signing their likeness away for the rest of their lives:
They sign a contract saying that any type of merchandising—you sign your likeness away for life. They can use your likeness for life, and you get zero money from it. Is that fair? No.
That’s why these guys, they fight for their contracts and they hold out, and Dana says, ‘They’re the worst fighters in the world because they held out on a contract’ and 'They’re afraid to fight the guy they’re supposed to be fighting because of the contract.’
It’s a business at the end of the day. That’s all it is, and the UFC is doing a great job becoming a billionaire company by the blood of us fighters.
Fighters around the globe sacrifice their entire lives for the sole purpose of stepping into the Octagon one day and competing under the bright lights of the UFC. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of being a UFC star and forget about the business side of things.
So you want to be an ultimate fighter?
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.