I think the 2 main differences here are the percentages taken by the owners of the UFC vs. Boxing promoters (which I calculated at the bottom of the post) and I seriously doubt the UFC is receiving the same $$$ amount in advertising revenue.
Just to give you an idea of the type of money made by the UFC per event/year back in 2008 (25 million/event & about 250 million/year):
Ultimate Cash Machine
Matthew Miller 04.10.08, 6:00 PM ET
Forbes Magazine dated May 05, 2008
Casino moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta bought a violent fight club called Ultimate Fighting Championship--and built it into a billion-dollar sports empire.
On the evening before the Super Bowl a mix of celebrities (including home run king Barry Bonds and hip-hop impresario Jay-Z), high rollers and rabid fans crammed into the 12,000-seat arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Like spectators at a gladiator fight, they were there to witness the highly charged and bizarre spectacle of men bloodying each other in what's known as mixed martial arts. It was the latest fightfest staged by Ultimate Fighting Championship, a Las Vegas company that started as a smutlike fight club that's now worth maybe $1 billion and is drawing competitors like flies to blood.
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, 39, wandered tunnels around the arena. He dropped in on a broadcast booth to pepper producers with questions about which countries would be receiving the night's pay-per-view event, and then checked in with the commentator, Joe Rogan of NBC's Fear Factor, to learn more about the matchups. He made small talk with some of the 18 fighters on the bill before joining the crowd to watch the fights taking place inside an eight-sided ring surrounded by a chain-link fence.
Former Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, a tattooed brawler wearing red and black trunks and 5-ounce fingerless fighting gloves, had just spent two five-minute rounds punishing challenger Minotauro Nogueira with jabs to the face. The Brazilian's cheeks were cut and bruised in several places, leaving his face so swollen he could barely see. Pro wrestling is fake. This stuff is for real.
But in the third round Sylvia let his guard down for a split second, allowing Nogueira, a Brazilian jujitsu master, to grab his neck and pull. Sylvia could not escape the move--a guillotine choke--and was forced into submission. The crowd roared.
Americans will never understand cricket. The British can't grasp American football. But you can't get much more universal than this. "What makes UFC so great," says Fertitta, "is that every single man on the planet gets it immediately. It's just two guys beating each other up."
With his older brother, Frank Fertitta III, 46, and UFC President Dana White, 39, Lorenzo Fertitta has transformed UFC from a business once labeled by Senator John McCain as "human cockfighting" into a lucrative sports empire that competitors like Mark Cuban are now hoping to horn in on.
It's the Ultimate Money Machine. That night before the Super Bowl 10,700 fans packed the arena, paying an average of $340 for a ticket to witness nine mixed martial arts fights. Another 500,000 fans paid $45 ($55 for high definition) to watch five of the nine fights at home. The total haul from the event: $25 million.
This year UFC is likely to generate $250 million, capturing perhaps 90% of mixed martial arts revenue. The majority of UFC revenues come from the monthly pay-per-view events. Additional cash is made from ticket sales to live fights and licensing fees from its Spike cable shows The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Fight Night . These shows in turn act as promotional tools to drive fans to pay-per-view events. More scratch comes from sales of DVDs and T shirts, as well as downloads from UFC's library of past bouts.
The Fertittas field pleas from private equity and media firms to sell UFC. Those offers, they assert, exceed $1 billion. Not a bad return on investment for something they paid a mere $2 million for in 2001. (Indeed, in 2002 FORBES wrote skeptically about the Fertittas' ability to turn their new purchase into anything worthwhile.) The price, if they could get it, would be rich in comparison with the $1.4 billion market value for publicly traded World Wrestling Entertainment (nyse: WWE - news - people ), which has almost double the revenue. Both UFC and WWE racked up similar pay-per-view buys in 2007: UFC got 5.1 million buys for 11 fights while WWE got 5.2 million for 15 fights. Often UFC pay-per-view events draw as many male viewers ages 18 to 49--some 3 million--as one of last year's biggest college football games, Michigan versus Ohio State. That number assumes six people are gathered around the TV to watch each pay-per-view purchase. UFC has broadcast events to 170 countries and territories and recently sold out live fights in Manchester, U.K. and Montreal.
The brothers each own 45% of UFC (White owns the rest), which is operated through their holding company Zuffa (Italian for "fight"), LLC. Add in personal assets and their stake in Station Casinos (nyse: STN - news - people ), which they took private with buyout maven Thomas Barrack for $9 billion in cash and assumed debt last year, and each Fertitta has a net worth of $1.3 billion, ranking each 380th on The Forbes 400.
Marketers salivate over the audience. "UFC has a deep, passionate fan base," says Mark-Hans Richer, chief marketing officer for Harley-Davidson (nyse: HOG - news - people ), which along with Bud Light is a corporate sponsor. "Advertising to such an engaged group of young males is important to us because we want and need to be selling to the next generation of motorcycle riders." Ultimate fighting has also spawned a few side industries (which UFC doesn't own). Sportswear firms like Tapout, American Fighter and Warrior Wear sell an assortment of workout clothes and accessories (wallets, key chains, stickers). Children as young as 6 are taking MMA classes in place of the karate or tae kwon do lessons of a generation ago.
And to give you an idea of Dana White's worth:
Dana White Estimates UFC's Value At 2.5 Billion Dollars
Posted by MMA NEWS on September 22, 2010 at 1:50pm
View MMA NEWS's blog
In a recent interview with Philip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star, UFC President Dana White estimates that the UFC is worth $2.5 billion. The company has grown exponentially since White and Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta purchased the company back in 2001 for $2 million. White himself, he’s worth a cool $200 million alone.
Here is the rest of the interview with the UFC’s leading man.
As the President of a constantly evolving company that is trying to expand globally, there isn’t much time for sleep. However, White says there’s no other way he would have it.
“My life is so good, I don’t want to waste any minute of it sleeping,” said White. “I hate sleeping. It’s not that I don’t get a lot of sleep, it’s that I don’t require a lot of sleep.”
Hind sight is 20-20 but White says he always had a feeling that MMA and the UFC would reach the level of popularity it’s at now. He also mentions that there is a lot of room for growth not only internationally but in the U.S.
“I’ve been saying this since day one, and people really thought I was a lunatic, that this could be the biggest sport in the world. What I am surprised about is how fast this has happened,” explained White.
“[But] we haven’t even scratched the surface for how big this thing is going to be. I don’t consider us mainstream yet. Mainstream, to me, is if you walked out into the main street of any major city in America and asked them what “American Idol” is. Everyone can tell you what “American Idol” is. Not everyone can tell you what [the] UFC is.”
White then goes on to explain exactly what makes the UFC so popular. In a classic Dana White answer, he believes it started a long, long time ago.
“The reality is it is the most exciting live sporting event you will ever see,” says White “ I don’t care what color you are, what country you come from or what language you speak, at the end of the day, we’re all human beings and fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it. I could throw all kinds of stats and proof at you from my business, but this is what I truly believe: Fighting was the first sport ever. Before a guy hit a ball with a stick, before a guy threw a ball through a hoop, I think two men were put on this Earth, somebody threw a punch and whoever was around there, they ran over and watched the fight.”
Many people consider Mr. White a “character” and some people just flat out don’t like him. However, you can’t deny the fact that he has built the sport of MMA into a multi-billion dollar industry that is beginning to overtake boxing as the number one combat sport in the world. If you love MMA and the UFC, you have to thank Dana White because in the famous words of Joe Rogan at all UFC weigh-ins, “Without him, none of this would be possible.”
- By Chad Yabuki
Now knowing the UFC makes around $25,000,000 per event
(using that 2008 calculation) and that the most recent event - UFC 126 had a total disclosed payroll of $1,030,000
(I added all of the payouts from Foxy's post above) this means that ($1,030,000 / 25,000,000) * 100 =
4.12% goes back to the fighters
That's a pretty small amount for the people who REALLY bring in the revenue. I always estimated they get around 5%, but now we have the proof. Pathetic!
Now I don't know what percentages guys like De La Hoya and Bob Arum pocket from each event, but you DEFINITELY know that boxing pays more than 4-5% back to the fighters, at least on the big events. I was reading an article the other day regarding this subject and it calculated that the average MMA payout is higher than the average boxing payout. The comparison being used here is one of the most major events in boxing history (Pac's guarantee of $20 million and Mosley's guarantee of $5 million), so the numbers are definitely going to look skewed.