Report: UFC Fighters Received Just 15.5% Revenue Share In 2022, Despite Promotion's Best Financial Year Ever

It appears UFC fighters continued to receive a low percentage of the promotion's revenue, despite the company having its biggest earnings year yet in 2022.

Bloody Elbow's John S. Nash released an extensive report on Tuesday, going over the financial details from the fourth quarter and full year earnings from 2022 for Endeavor Group Holdings, the parent company of the UFC. It's an article worth your time, as Nash goes into great detail about the numbers and explains their implications in a variety of ways.

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However, one of those most interesting tidbits from Nash's report comes in the final paragraphs where it's revealed that Endeavor admitted to higher operating costs for Owned Sports Properties, a segment of the company made up of the UFC, PBR bull-riding, and Euroleague basketball, being "partially offset by lower athlete costs for UFC."

This leads Nash to estimate that if UFC fighter pay was reduced by just 1% in 2022 from what it was in 2021, the fighter's share of the revenue would only have been 15.5% last year.

In addition to higher revenues last year, direct operating costs for Owned Sports Properties were also up $54.1 million, or 14.2%, from 2021, totaling $433.8 million. The higher direct operating costs were credited mostly to expenses connected to the increased number of live UFC and PBR events as well as costs for the seven months Endeavor ran the Diamond Baseball Holdings. It was also noted by Endeavor that these increases in direct operating costs were “partially offset by lower athlete costs for UFC.”

Based on comments by Endeavor executives, we estimated that total fighter pay in 2021 was $178.8 million, or 17.5% of the UFC’s revenue. This falls right in line with what we know about the share of revenue the UFC paid in the past and what they projected they would continue to pay after their sale in 2016.

If UFC’s total athlete pay was just 1% lower in 2022 than it was in 2021, and their revenues ended up being $1.14 billion, then the fighters’ share of revenue would have been only 15.5% last year.

Of course, if fighter pay was lowered more than 1%, their revenue share would’ve been even more lopsided in the company’s favor.

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