I’d love for the UFC to step up and make the fight [with Fedor Emelianenko] happen. It has the potential to be the biggest mixed martial arts fight to date…It has the potential to do 700,000+ pay-per-view buys which is a helluva lotta money. I think 6-10 [million should be the salary] for each of us and they’re still gonna make a boatload of money on top of that.
Generally speaking, cable operators take half of the revenue for PPV events, which would mean that the UFC gets $22.495 per buyer these days. Though it’s been suggested that the UFC has been able to work out a slightly better deal with its distributors, multiplying that figure by Randy’s estimate of 700,000 buys would mean that the UFC would take in about $15,746,500 from a PPV card headlined by Couture vs. Emelianenko. “Boatload” may not be the right word if you’re taking at least $12,000,000 off the top to pay the headliners. Pay Randy and Fedor $8 million apiece or more, and the UFC’s profit from the broadcast is eliminated altogether. Of course, the equation changes completely if the fight does Liddell/Ortiz-caliber numbers, but its hard to predict if Couture vs. Emelianenko will mobilize the casual UFC fan like UFC 66‘s grudge match did.
In other words, there’s no way the UFC is going to cave to Couture’s asking price. I’d imagine they’re still interested in negotiating — if for no other reason than to take Affliction’s hope of a big-drawing superfight away from them — but they won’t agree to a situation where they’re only breaking even financially. Just as importantly, paying headliners that much money for a single fight sets a precedent that could have even more of their contracted fighters giving them grief about “respect.” We just hope the two sides can eventually come to terms, because if the UFC can’t afford to put this fight on, it’s doubtful that anybody else can.