So here’s that ESPN Outside the Lines piece that got Dana White so hot and bothered. Even before it aired yesterday morning, the segment — and accompanying feature article by Josh Gross — drew criticism for its reliance on anonymous sources (as well as Ken Shamrock, who’s not exactly unbiased), and for downplaying the reality of the UFC’s business model, in which fighters are paid handsomely for performing well and drawing a crowd. Should a new UFC prospect deserve to make as much as an NFL player simply because he’s signed to the UFC? Lorenzo Fertitta doesn’t think so: “[L]ike any other company in America…You have to perform, to be able to get compensated.” There is also some mis-representation in the UFC’s $6,000/$6,000 system of payment for prospects (skip to the 5:03 mark), which ESPN seems to believe applies to all fighters who enter the promotion.
The segment does make a couple of solid points, pointing to the lack of a Muhammad Ali Act in MMA, and explaining that athletes in other major sports leagues are so well paid because they get 50% of the leagues’ revenues — while the UFC, according to “multiple sources” (all anonymous, of course), pays closer to 10% of its revenue to the fighters. Lorenzo Fertitta disputes this, saying it’s “in the neighborhood” of 50%, but since the UFC won’t disclose exactly what they’re earning (or exactly what they’re paying out to fighters, for that matter), it’s impossible to come away with a clear answer to this question.
Check it out and let us know what you think. After the jump, some unaired footage from the interview released yesterday by the UFC, in which Fertitta explains that the lowest-paid UFC fighter earns about ten times more than the lowest-paid boxer who fights on ESPN, so suck it.