To provide some context, in 1993, Gracie won UFC 1 and received a prize of ,000. In contrast, a boxing match between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield took place a week prior, where Bowe was promised a minimum of million and Holyfield million. This stark difference in earnings can be attributed to the number of pay-per-view purchases, with the boxing match garnering 950,000 buys compared to UFC 1’s 90,000.The pay of UFC fighters has sparked a lot of debate, with differing opinions on whether a minimum salary of ,000 for a single fight is fair compensation. Some argue that it’s good pay for what may only be 17 minutes of actual fighting time (three rounds at five minutes each, with two one-minute breaks), while others feel that it’s insulting considering the physical toll and extensive training required for those 17 minutes in the octagon.
The popularity of UFC is increasing, but the earnings of its fighters are not yet surpassing those of boxers.
In any case, the compensation for UFC fighters is increasing positively. The sport continues to have a significant following, and there is a possibility for even more revenue if the UFC ventures into creating its own TV network or streaming platform.Since Royce Gracie won the UFC 1 championship in 1993, we have made significant progress. Despite winning a ,000 prize, which was a considerable amount in 1993, Gracie had to win three fights in one night to become the champion of the eight-man tournament.The way sports fans consume content has evolved since the 1990s. Unlicensed streaming platforms and sharing of passwords have become prevalent, resulting in a significant reduction in revenue generated from home viewership.Comparing the UFC’s current payouts to the heavyweight boxing division’s payouts during its peak is hardly equitable. This is partly because Bowe vs. Holyfield II was no ordinary fight, given that it followed what was widely regarded as one of the greatest heavyweight boxing matches ever. In their first encounter, Bowe defeated Holyfield by unanimous decision, pitting two unbeaten boxers against each other.Skipping ahead almost three decades, UFC 280 saw Islame Makhachef emerge victorious over Charles Oliveira, with PPV purchases estimated to be between 750,000 and almost a million. However, the payout for both fighters was just over million, which is significantly less than the million that Bowe and Holyfield divided.
The UFC is not experiencing any financial difficulties.
The major question that remains is whether the salary and pricing of UFC have reached its peak or if it’s just the start.The UFC has been experiencing steady growth for the past six seasons and has surpassed billion in revenue in 2021, indicating that they are financially stable. However, the main problem lies in the fact that the UFC views itself as the attraction rather than the fighters, despite having ample resources to increase fighter pay.The Ultimate Fighting Championship frequently fills up arenas prior to announcing the fighters. However, their extensive roster and numerous fighter combinations that yield thrilling outcomes restrict the group’s earning capacity. Additionally, the UFC’s contractual levels make it challenging to exceed a predetermined pay scale.Despite boxing being the most popular sport in the late 80s and early 90s and the current trend of people streaming events, the September 2022 rematch between middleweight boxers Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin reportedly earned Alvarez million and GGG at least million. This raises questions about the UFC’s payment practices.It is yet unclear why Conor McGregor earned a significantly higher amount for his exhibition boxing match against Floyd Mayweather compared to his UFC 257 fight against Dustin Poirier, which had the highest UFC purse ever.