Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel Defends UFC Fighter Pay Amid Jake Paul Criticism

Ari Emanuel
Credit. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Credit. Jason Miller | Getty Images

The CEO of Endeavor, Ari Emanuel, has defended the status of higher fighter pay during an earnings call with investors.

Higher pay for the UFC athletes has been an on-going talking point for years, but in 2022 it seems the issue is brought up more often. There have been many former and current fighters who have been outspoken about the topic like Henry Cejudo and the current heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Most Notably the person making the most noise about the subject is outside the organization, Jake Paul.

Jake Paul has been slamming the UFC president Dana White about the matter for quite some time now and after hearing the earnings call, he believes change is coming.

“Live from the UFC call: Ari Emanuel asked about fighter comp and benefits driven by the attention JAKE PAUL is bringing to it by LightShed Ari refused to comment on the concern around percentage paid to UFC fighters versus other athletes in other leagues Change is coming y’all“

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Brandon Ross from Lightshed Partners brought up Jake Paul’s criticism about record revenues in comparison to the overall share that is paid back to the fights. Ari Emanuel unequivocally had this to say

“I’m not commenting on that. I think we’ve done very well as it relates to the pay for the fighters”

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The Endeavor chief financial officer Jason Lubin also backed Emanuel, citing that the overall growth of fighter pay since 2005 has increased 600 percent.“We’re investing in the business with performance institutes, food, recovery. We think we’ve done very, very well. As the revenue for the business increases, it has only benefited that business, and we’ve grown and the sport has grown and fighter pay has grown too. As I said, how much it’s gone up since 2005.” (H/T MMAFighting)

The NFL, NBA, MLB, and the NHL all pay their athletes close to 50 percent in revenue, whereas the UFC has been paying out their performers close to 20 percent based on a class action lawsuit from multiple ex-UFC fighters.

Ari Emanuel Announces UFC Has Another Record-Breaking Year

The UFC had its best financial year in its 28-year existence in 2021, according to the parent company Endeavor. Before the call was held on Wednesday, Endeavor released both the fourth quarter and final year statements.

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“In our first year as a public company, we saw significant outperformance across our portfolio as the world began to emerge from the pandemic, with increased attendance at live events and continued heightened demand for premium content,” Emanuel said in his initial statement about Endeavor’s earnings for the year.

“Given the unique position we occupy in the content landscape, we remain confident about our ability to continue leveraging trends, unlocking growth, and delivering long-term value.”

The company has many sponsors which have brought in increased revenue like DraftKings and Crypto.com. It was also reported on the call that UFC Fight Pass has grown nearly 30 percent in 2021.

With three years left on the ESPN deal and the increasing popularity of the sport, the UFC is slated to shatter more yearly records before the deal expires.

Do you believe UFC fighters should be paid more?