A Face-Punching Legal Battle
The ufc has an overwhelmingly dominant position as the biggest promotional organization that runs fights in mixed martial arts. It likely made close to a billion dollars in revenues last year. And that's estimated to be as much as ninety percent of all the revenues in mixed martial arts and it achieved that dominant position both by successfully managing and promoting the sport but also by buying out all of its biggest rivals in getting all of those top fighters from its rivals to fight for it. So you have. These numbers are not public but these estimates come from nash analyzes the business and finances of mixed martial arts for the website. The bloody elbow. He's our guide to this world and is the lawsuit filed by the former fighters against the ufc has unveiled all these documents. That show what the fighters get paid. We had an inkling. We had an idea but now we have like concrete numbers. Okay so here. Are some of the points made by the fighters and here are some of the. Us's agreements i the fighters argue that they simply get paid a much smaller share of the ufc's revenues than athletes and other major sports leagues. And this is true. Those new documents from the court hearing revealed that fighters get paid roughly twenty percent or less of ufc revenues in a given year for the major basketball baseball hockey and football leagues athletes. Get paid close to half of what they're leaks make and in boxing the other major combat sport. It's even higher close to sixty percent of boxing. Revenues goes to boxers. And one of the reasons john says is it. There are several major. Boxing promoters trying to sign fighters it's just a more competitive market so for the fcc. The fighter has to pitch to the of c. To hire him to give them a fight because he needs to be in the afc to make money were in. Boxing promoter has to find a fighter and convince him to let him promote them. Because he's the person drawing the money in response to the fighters. Ufc's arguing that even though it's fighters getting smaller share of its revenues. Those fighters are still getting paid more money over time because the ufc is making more in revenues over time so the overall level of the fighters pay is still going up and john says if the us seaward some other kind of company that response might be enough to win the case if the fighters are just like other workers and their pays going up. Why would it matter. If the fighters are getting a smaller share of the sports revenues than the athletes in other sports. What makes this case different honest with the plaintiffs argue is that the fighters aren't workers like a typical worker on a factory line. The fighters are the product and as the product. That's being sold. They deserve a share of the sales. Dmc has also argued that nick martial arts is still a young and growing sport should not be compared against established. Sports leagues plus. Dear makes the case that a big reason it makes so much. Money is not because of how great it's fighters are because of how good the you have c. is at putting on big lucrative fight nights that effectively. Ufc has a special ingredient that it adds to its fight cards john. Nash is a little skeptical of this one. But what is the special sauce is a little confusing. When of would claim it's their production. It's the way they things but then can you be more specific because you know. Boxing does the same thing they they promote fighters they put on events they they make packages that you know all that stuff that seems to be part of the special sauce is done by other other promotions plus john says if the ufc does have a special sauce and the specific fighters don't matter too much. Then why did the ufc go to such lengths to buy out its rivals and get their fighters and why does the ufc put restrictions in the fighters contracts that prevent them from fighting for other promotional companies. Look there's lots of other complexities in this lawsuit. For example the ufc also makes its fighters except the sponsorship deal with reebok and keeps a lot of the money from that deal the fighters say they could get their own sponsors which they used to be able to they would get paid more but really we're just scratching the surface here on this lawsuit and it probably has a long way to go anyways. But what is clear is that the lawsuit is a fight. About worker power the former fighters say they lost power to negotiate their pay because a ufc made the market for their talent less competitive the ufc disagrees and has argued that it should not be punished for being a successful company by the way we emailed a spokesperson for the ufc about the lawsuit. They have not yet responded. What's also clear right now. Is that the financial life of a lot of you. Have fighters is really hard fighters who are not highly ranked will sometimes get as little as ten thousand dollars for a fight and finders will have at most a few fights a year and they pay a big share of their earnings to their fight camps. The places that run their training and provide coaching things like that and so these former fighters are basically suing the ufc for what they believe they are owed what they argue they would have made if the ufc had allowed a competitive market for their services. Nate quarry one of these x. fighters says they're also hoping that the ufc has to change. Its approach to paying fighters going forward. We deserve our seat at the table. Whether it's talking about sponsorships whether it's negotiating our purses whether it's being able to fight for someone else free agency that's what we truly need in the sport where the fighters will have the ability to really test out the free market and see what our values this episode of the indicator was produced by jamila huxtable. In fact check by sean sal donya indicators paddy hirsch and is a production of npr.