As the class-action, antitrust lawsuit against the UFC heads towards the completion of its fifth year, many observers have wondered when they’ll start getting a better peek inside the business of MMA on such things as promotional finances and contract terms. So far, bits and pieces have been disclosed here and there. We’ve learned the exact $4.025 billion purchase price of the UFC in 2016, the World Series of Fighting’s $109,000 television license fee and the amount its sponsors paid per show, and the 0.82 year median and 2.00 mean career duration for UFC fighters, but much of the substantive financial and contractual information has remained sealed or redacted.
An oft-debated and discussed financial metric is the percentage of revenues going to fighters as compensation. Until recently, information on this UFC fighter “wage share” was confined to media estimates, with Bloody Elbow’s John Nash pegging it at 13.6-16.3%, Bleacher Report’s Scott Harris putting it at 15.6%, former fighter and current Showtime host Brendan Schaub saying the “last numbers I got was 7%,” and UFC commentator Jon Anik estimating fighter take home at “maybe it's 30%, maybe it's 35%.”
As of last Friday, media estimates are no longer needed.
In a court filing on the potential sealing of certain exhibits at upcoming evidentiary hearings in August, the UFC attached less redacted versions of hundreds of pages of expert witness reports. I’ll be combing through the details of those reports over the next few weeks in preparation for the upcoming hearings, but in the meantime it appears pre-2014 UFC financial information is now being disclosed. A May 24, 2019 letter between UFC and plaintiffs’ attorneys appears to confirm that the UFC will only seek to seal “post-2013” financial materials and trade secrets.