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Video: ESPN Attacks UFC Fighter Pay on ‘Outside the Lines’; UFC Releases Unaired Footage in Response

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.

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fatbellyfrank- January 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm
I'm not sure about the ins'n'outs of the whole scenario, but seems pretty straight forward to me;
Fight game = Survival of the fittest, strongest
Beat up majority of dudes you fight=more money
Lose to majority of dudes you fight=less money
For further dissertation of above points ring Xeno on 1800-Fukthalotofya :)
XENOPHON- January 17, 2012 at 10:20 am
RwilsonR - then you tell me how much Zuffa made with the $900 million Fox paid them, the toys, posters, clothing, coffee, mugs, video games, gear, PPV's, live event seating, and all the income from branding and video content on TUF rebroadcasts, the sponsor endorsements, Spike, Fuel, Showtime, Versus etc... for the Strike Force and the UFC holdings?
Once again we see you placed your foot in your mouth Wilson...Thats nothing new. Yet, nobody knows who much they make, unless you peeked at their IRS and shareholder disclosures.
ESPN, seems to know they are a big enough threat to their own latch on broadcasting sports content....but you don't think they are make a billion dollars.
Fair enough, you tell us what they make in a year then?
Rear Naked Poke- January 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm
muthafuckers be writting novels up in this B
RwilsonR- January 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm
XENO, you do realize when they say "billion dollar company" it doesn't mean they earn $1 billion in revenue annually let alone profit to line their pockets, right? Right? Great analogy with MS' IPO. No need for relevancy when making an argument.
Oh, nevermind.
dranokills- January 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm
points of interest for me:
Good job Lorenzo.
Fuck you espn.
Good job Dana.
Good job UFC.
fuck stupid fighters who bitch.
fuck all "pro sports".
FUCK anyone who wants a union.
KaneThePhoenix- January 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm
This ESPN piece is such bullshit it is amazing. When you consider the UFC is still growing they are drawing analogies to other sports organizations. You cannot do that, simply because the UFC is still growing where other pro sports are already set in their growth. ESPN sucks so much ass it is pathetic. The sad thing are the poor sheeple that will fall for ESPN's bullshit. Thank god I never wasted my time watching ANYTHING on ESPN.
KarmaAteMyCat- January 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm
Dude pretty much fucked his son's chances of getting into the UFC.
DangadaDang- January 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Holy shit Karma, I thought of that EXACT SAME MOMENT when I first found out Shamrock was involved in this.
Booosted- January 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

You sound pretty pissed off.

I'm just stating some obvious points; I agree with performance based pay but the lower tier fighters do deserve a little bump in pay. you have to account all the months of training prior to the fight.

I'm not suggesting them to be payed 50k but they deserve more than what the current pays are right now.
KarmaAteMyCat- January 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm
At that point in the video watch the Clip with Ken Shamrock fucking gold..
El Guapo- January 16, 2012 at 11:49 am
I'm of the belief the UFC pays their fighters peanuts BUT I must admit I believe that's actually better for the fans because it forces fighters to fight the best. Sucks to say it, because I do feel they should be paid ALOT more, but the truth hurts, nawmsayin?
That's why boxing is in shambles; The fighters call the shots. Please see Pacquiao-Mayweather(or lackthere of)for further proof.
Ringo- January 16, 2012 at 11:46 am
there's another video out there with a more complete response from the ufc.
El Guapo- January 16, 2012 at 11:36 am
I just wanna know if ESPN got their credentials yanked or not. Everything else is a matter of opinion,
beef_kurtains- January 16, 2012 at 11:13 am
1. MMA as a whole doesn't generate the kind of revenue of the big four (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), therefore, the top earners in MMA will not earn the same as the the top earners in those four sports. Bad comparison. Maybe they should compare MMA to Soccer in the US, better comparison.

2. The UFC may be worth a billion, but so are the Yankees, one team in a league of 26 other teams. Apples and Oranges.

3. $6k to show and $6k to win for a relative rookie is fantastic. I had to work while I went to school and once I earned my degrees I picked up a job that enabled me to work full time and earn a good living; looks like fighters do the same. Seems fair to me.

4. UFC may be a monopoly, that's the only fair criticism. When you buy up all your competition, you're going to earn an anti-trust lawsuit. Happens in every industry, and I would guess UFC will feel that as well. The only reason Strikeforce even exists is to ensure there is at least one reasonable competitor, even though the UFC owns that promotion as well.
enrikk- January 16, 2012 at 11:13 am
MMAFighting's article was very good, doing what ESPN didn't - they took specific examples (both hypothetical and real) and showed that new fighters CAN make a lot of money (Edson Barbosa did 348,000 in his first four fights... fuck being a doctor!)

Of course, with that said, most of it rides on the performance of the athlete ...and if you pull a Dan Hardy early on, you're probably going to need a day job again... and probably for a long time. Maybe when the UFC is as big as the NFL, guys can get paid millions of dollars to stay in the sport even when they don't perform to any sort of potential for multiple games in a row...but then again, hopefully not.
Yazloz18- January 16, 2012 at 10:18 am
Awesome KOs always make the top 10 but they are never #1. Usually #1 isn't the best play, its just a big play from a big upset or big game. The showtime kick was like #3 as well, but they incorrectly said he KOed Bendo Regarding the pay I think its somewhere in between. They aren't as poor as guys make them out to be but ZUFFA isn't paying them to the point that most low to mid tier fighters don't need to supplement their income. The best way to make a decent salary in the UFC if you aren't a headline guy is to stick around a while. Vera is a guy who is making 60k a fight and isn't a draw
DangadaDang- January 16, 2012 at 10:05 am
Speaking of ESPN, anyone catch Sportscenter this morning? Barboza's wheel kick landed at #3 on the Top Plays. Fucking Eli Manning took #1.
RwilsonR- January 16, 2012 at 9:57 am
Im with omunto, I that I want to see more of Lorenzo out there. However, I probably part ways with him in that I also love to see Dan White give interviews. I think he and Lorenzo are a good balance for each other, and both are entertaining for different reasons.
Dagnut- January 16, 2012 at 9:52 am
I am going to hold my hands up and say fair enough, I thought lorenzo fertita came across well and I wasn't aware they were making such large payouts to the fighters..if they are making up to 40% of the payout to the fighters that's fair. Looking at the payouts the publish to me it looked more like 10% quoted I guess if the top fighters are all millionaires and happy to be fighting there why would they form a union and leave? they won't is the simple answer
RwilsonR- January 16, 2012 at 9:51 am
Two seconds in... "Lorenzo and his brother Frank are heirs to the Stations Casino fortune, and both are billionaires..."
Heirs? That's a little condescending, considering their farther started them with one small junky locals casino, and it was Frank and Lorenzo who built the Stations Casino empire into 17 casinos. They aren't Paris Fucking Hilton!
Then the piece basically condescends again to Dan White's roll in it, by mentioning him as the president, but saying, "...most attribute the UFC's success to Lorenzo Fertitta's business acumen..."
Really? Most? They make a blanket statement basically suggesting the company's president is just an impotent figurehead, then back it up with an assumed consensus of opinion totally unsupported by anything. That was all in the first 20 seconds. What a shitty piece by ESPN.
intercept440- January 16, 2012 at 9:49 am
the whole argument is fucking stupid...
#1 the ufc is an emerging market. boxing ,nfl,nba,mlb ..those have been around for over 40 fucking years. and the are known worldwide..
once the ufc is marketed and ppv's are sold in more country's the fighters will make tons more money.
look at it like this .. when mike tyson fought evander holyfield the enitre fucking world was buying PPV of it. thats why boxers make some much fucking dough(but only the popular and good ones).
MLB and NFL and stuff like that not evcen close to being in the conversation its so differnt.
anyways im not going to go into it. i got to get back to work.. peace out bitches
Frank Mur- January 16, 2012 at 9:36 am
After watching both videos, I'm led to believe one thing...Vitor's old lady has a very nice Onion.
captcha= ate durit
cecils_pupils- January 16, 2012 at 9:10 am
E:60 - Another Gross misrepresentation of the truth.
Kid Clam Curtains- January 16, 2012 at 9:07 am
Fucking hack reporting.
ccman- January 16, 2012 at 9:06 am
Ok I stepped out of this and google hopped the topic, and after reading around 20 different takes on this my honest first thought?
There are fighters they CANT shut up. They have guys who have threatened the fucking president, on camera, in front of 20k people, and the only person they can find to speak on camera is Shamrock? Let the conspiracy dipshits run amock, I have read a book, and I'm not buying.