UFC fighters are enraged by low wages, while investors earn large dividends

Former fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship are furious over the billionaire payments recently delivered to the rich and famous investors in the league.

A main target of his anger is UFC President Dana White, a 50-year-old former boxer whose generous tip habits have “changed people’s lives.”

As The Post reported earlier this month, approximately $ 300 million, most of the cash reserve of $ 350 million UFC, will go to single dividend payments to the company’s star-filled list of investors, which It includes actor and producer Mark Wahlberg, actress Charlize Theron and model Gisele Bündchen.

White, who has been using UFC since 2001, is on track to receive more than $ 3 million of the unexpected profit, sources told The Post.

That is trapped in the crowd of former UFC fighters who sue the company, who notices White’s reputation for his luxurious expenses. According to a 2012 report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, White tipped distributors over $ 100,000 during a two-month streak at the Palms Casino Resort in Vegas.

“I heard that Dana had given a waitress $ 10,000 and that was my salary as a fighter,” said former UFC fighter Kyle Kingsbury. “I lived in my mother’s garage and had two jobs when I was fighting in the UFC. I was a personal trainer and gorilla [and] Bartender in a strip club.

Kingsbury is one of three former combatants currently seeking class action status for a lawsuit accusing the cage-fighting empire of participating in anti-competitive practices to reduce their salary, including forcing combatants into long-term exclusive contracts.

Governing on the road

The question of whether the payment of combatants is being unfairly limited now falls to the federal judge of Las Vegas, Richard Boulware, who is expected to decide soon if he grants them class certification. If the judge rules in your favor, some 1,200 current and former UFC fighters could join the lawsuit, lawyers said. If the judge rules against the combatants, it will probably kill the lawsuit.

UFC has argued in court documents that the anti-competitive claims of former combatants are false, and that even if they were valid, it would be a problem for the Federal Trade Commission, not a jury. The UFC has also argued that there are five mixed martial arts leagues in competition.

“UFC pays its fighters more than any other MMA promoter,” a UFC spokesman told The Post. “We are proud of the company we have built and we trust our legal position.”

Combatants complain that the UFC restricts its ability to earn money in other ways, even maintaining most of the pay-per-view revenue, unlike boxing, which often promises the vast majority of pay-TV revenue . given to the fighters.

On the contrary, wrestlers call UFC payments “fixed money,” because there is no advantage for them, even if their fights help enrich UFC.

After losing a fight with Conor’s “Irish” McGregor in less than a minute in January, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone revealed that he did not receive a penny more than the $ 200,000 he was promised in his contract.

“Hahahaha 7-10 million,” Cerrone responded to a follower on Instagram. “I didn’t receive money from PPV. What the world thinks and what really happens is very different. I made fixed money.

The UFC spokesman denied that Cerrone received only $ 200,000 to fight McGregor, who won at least $ 3 million of the fight, but declined to provide details.

UFC President Dana White
UFC President Dana WhiteZuffa LLC through Getty Images

The UFC also put The Post in touch with Cerrone manager Josh Jones, vice president of sports marketing and entertainment firm KHI Management, who said Cerrone “received tremendous compensation.” Multiple times more than $ 200,000, much more than $ 200,000. “

The manager said the 6-foot fighter was “paid in many different ways,” even through UFC sponsor Reebok, but offered no details.

More rounds

But combatants say that corporate sponsorship compensation has been severely affected since the UFC closed a six-year sponsorship agreement starting in 2015 with Reebok for $ 70 million. The agreement meant that fighters could no longer announce their own sponsors in the octagon, a practice that had previously been helping to pay the bills.

In exchange for using Reebok equipment, fighters under the new agreement are paid in a staggered system starting at $ 2,500, according to ESPN. The champions receive $ 40,000, according to the report.

The fighters also claim that they have been told to play along with the UFC rules or to be blacklisted. Former UFC fighter Cung tells him that he was paid $ 5,000 for each episode in which he was the coach on the television show “The Ultimate Fighter: China.”

And when he asked for more, White told him that he had to accept it or that “he would be sitting on the bench,” Le said.

At one point between the shows, Le’s wife needed surgery and he asked to “spend a few days with her” before being sent to China for the next recording round, he said.

The UFC denied his request, saying they had to start recording immediately, Le said.

“I had to leave right after his surgery, although he spent a week in the hospital and there was no one to watch the children,” Le said.

“I went to China as requested and the program didn’t even get shot for a week,” he added.

Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, CEO and CEO, respectively, of Endeavor, the Hollywood entertainment conglomerate that owns half of the UFC, also get more than $ 3 million each from the $ 300 million dividend.

Endeavor, which sources say needs cash after an initial failed public offer in 2019, will receive an infusion of cash fed with UFC of approximately $ 150 million. Endeavor officials have denied that the UFC dividend has anything to do with the failed IPO.

Meanwhile, the money that fighters receive to get into the ring is often affected by expenses, as former wrestler Nate Quarry explained, using as an example his fight in 2005 for the UFC middleweight championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas

“I am the main event,” said Quarry. “I am doing all kinds of promotion.

“The money from my show was $ 10,000 with a $ 14,000 bonus to win,” he said of the event, which had a total income of $ 2 million, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Rich Franklin knocked him out in a round. After the expenses, including a coach, he stayed with $ 5,000.

“I would have earned more money if I had stayed in construction,” Quarry said.

After the fight for the championship, Quarry was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease by fighting. White urged him to have surgery in Las Vegas, where doctors are top notch. Quarry told White he had no money, and White said the UFC would pay.

“That was a change of life. I will be eternally grateful to Dana White for that, ”said Quarry. “But if they paid me more as a fighter, I wouldn’t have to ask for help.”

In addition to criticizing White, Kingsbury said he is also disappointed that none of the famous UFC investors have spoken out for combatants since they, as actors, benefit from unionization.

“That is the hypocrisy of the whole thing. They play blind, deaf and dumb,” he said, referring to the actors. “Their silence is deafening.”

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