UFC smashes revenue records for the second-straight year with Conor McGregor sitting on the sidelines

UFC CEO Dana White

For the second straight year, the UFC has shattered its revenue record without having to rely on Conor McGregor’s proven drawing power.

Per a report from Business Wire, the UFC was up 13 percent to an incredible $1.3 billion in 2023 with adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) increasing 11 percent to $756 million. UFC live events revenue saw the biggest leap from last year, improving 34 percent to a record $168 million, most of which came from ticket revenue and site fees.

Sponsorship revenue also jumped 18 percent to a record $196 million. That number will likely grow in the coming year after the UFC signed a deal with Bud Light late last year. It’s reportedly the biggest sponsorship deal in promotional history, worth more than $100 million.

“TKO is off to a strong start following record financial performance in 2023 at both UFC and WWE,” said Ariel Emanuel, the CEO of parent company TKO. “We secured Anheuser-Busch as the official beer partner of UFC, delivered a transformative deal to bring WWE’s Raw to Netflix beginning in 2025, and expanded our international footprint in important growth markets.

“We have more conviction than ever in the combination of these businesses and TKO’s ability to drive topline growth and margin expansion, generate meaningful free cash flow, and deliver sustainable long-term value for shareholders” (h/t MMA Mania).

Looking ahead to 2024, TKO is targeting revenue for the year at $2.575 and $2.65 billion for the combined companies at UFC and WWE.

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Earlier this year, the WWE announced a massive 10-year, $5 billion deal to take its flagship show to Netflix starting in 2025. The UFC will likely look for its own deal worth upwards of $3 billion — double its existing contract with ESPN — when the promotion goes to the negotiating table later this year in search of a new broadcast partner.

UFC and WWE face massive lawsuits in 2024

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the UFC in 2024. On April 15, the promotion is scheduled to go to trial for a class action antitrust lawsuit filed by several former fighters seeking damages between $894 million and $1.6 billion. The class action argues that the promotion wields “monopsony power” — a dynamic in which a single buyer owns a monopoly, allowing it to purchase labor under market value.

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The WWE is also facing its own controversy after a lawsuit was filed against company founder Vince McMahon with disturbing allegations of sexual assault, abuse, and trafficking.