The UFC generated more revenue in 2022 than every other combat sports promotion combined.
Per a report from Josh S. Nash of Bloody Elbow, the Las Vegas-based promotion raked in a record high of $1.140 billion. Perhaps even more impressive was the UFC’s profit margin for the year.
“In looking at the profits of UFC, their net income (profits) are even more impressive, growing from $119 million in 2015 to $177 million in 2020 to $272 in 2021 and reaching $387 million in 2022, a margin of 34%,” Nash wrote. “In other words, for every dollar they see in revenue, roughly 1/3 of it will end up as a profit.”
The UFC’s impressive increase in revenue can be attributed to its media rights and content, live events, sponsorships, and consumer product licensing deals, all of which set new records for the promotion in 2022. While all of that sounds very impressive, the UFC also helped to bolster their numbers by cutting production costs, specifically athlete costs. Between 2021 and 2022, the promotion saved an estimated $32.8 million in fighter pay, a number that is sure to make even the most loyal of Dana White’s followers ask some questions.
Dana White and the UFC Continue to Line Their Pockets While Fighters Put Their Health at Risk for Peanuts
Fighter pay has been a hot-button issue in the UFC for the past few years and the above numbers are sure to add a whole lot of fuel to the still-blazing fire. The promotion has already come under fire after offering fighters a base contract of $12,000 to fight and $12,000 to win. Of course, those numbers increase as a fighter continues to win, or becomes more popular with fans, whichever comes first, but there are far too many instances of fighters going broke just trying to make it to a fight night.
The most recent example came from Themba Gorimbo, a Zimbabwean fighter who scored his first victory inside the Octagon on Saturday night. Following the bout, Gorimbo revealed that he only had $7.00 in his bank account during the final week of his training camp. Some fighters have been forced to work a second job. Some have resorted to living in their car. All while the UFC rakes in record-breaking revenues.
But don’t try to broach the subject with Dana White. The UFC President was quite frank when asked about his thoughts on fighter pay during an interview with GQ Magazine.
“Believe me, these guys get paid what they’re supposed to get paid,” White said. “They eat what they kill. They get a percentage of the pay-per-view buys. And the money is spread out amongst all the fighters.”
“Spread out amongst all the fighters” is a bit of a stretch considering the UFC traditionally has a revenue share that falls just shy of 20%. In comparison, every other major sports organization, including the NBA, MLB, and NHL, have a revenue share with athletes that linger just below or above 50%. With the promotion’s recent increase in revenue matched with its reduction in athlete costs, their revenue share for 2022 drops even further to an embarrassingly low 13-15%.