There’s been a major update into the class action lawsuit against the UFC, with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denying the promotion’s appeal, and likely setting the wheels in motion for a trial in 2024.
With Judge Boulware previously stating he wants the case to be on a “fast track,” he also indicated that he wanted all records pertaining to the UFC antitrust lawsuit to be unsealed soon, with very limited redactions for health and contact information.
The uptick in activity in the case also included a number of motions and exhibits that were filed with the court over the last week as part of the legal proceedings. Thanks to the Judge’s new orders, most of these filings were unredacted.
Unsealed UFC lawsuit documents reveal financial information
Bloody Elbow has been going through these newly filed unsealed documents and one in particularly was extremely intriguing: Roger D. Blair’s re-filed expert report.
Included in the appendix of this report was all of the payouts made by the UFC to fighters from 2011 to 2016. This “Internal Zuffa Bout Compensation” included not only the show and win bonuses and along with Performance bonuses disclosed to athletic commissions and the public, but also non disclosed payments like pay-per-view bonuses, side letters and discretionary bonuses — all the payments to a fighter related to their bout.
Individual fighter names were not attached to each payout, but the report does include how many bouts that fighter has had in the UFC at that point, along with how many fighters received such a payout. That alone made it easy to identify many of the top earners from the UFC.
While it might be hard to identify one of the 4 fighters who were paid $27,000 for their 7th fight in the UFC in 2016, it’s easier to surmise that the fighter debuting in the UFC in 2016 who was paid $1,042,736 for their match was CM Punk, or that of the two fighters that had their 27th fight in the UFC that same year, one of them would be Jeremy Stephens and the other Frank Mir.
With the help of business expert John Nash, we were able to transpose and identify the payouts of several of the promotion’s key stars from the UFC’s internal compensation list in Roger D. Blair’s expert report.
The following purses are determined by matching the payout amount with identity of the fighter that most likely earned that amount. For example in 2013, the only possible candidate for a fighter earning $4,374,326 in his 18th UFC fight in the UFC would have been Anderson Silva. Also, by eliminating fighters who purse info has been revealed elsewhere (such as Brock Lesnar’s $8 million purse that was revealed in the Mark Hunt lawsuit) we can make fairly educated guess as to the identity of some of the other fighters.
Payouts for UFC’s biggest PPV stars
Ronda Rousey’s payouts
$574,720 vs. Liz Carmouche
$1,817,907 vs. Miesha Tate
$870,969 vs. Sara McMann
$1,063,688 vs. Alexis Davis
$1,458,282 vs. Cat Zingano
$2,642,204 vs. Bethe Correia
$4,476,662 or $4,536,932 vs. Holly Holm
$4,879,766 vs. Amanda Nunes
Recently unsealed lawsuit documents also included Professor Robert Topel’s expert report that cites payouts for Rousey during the class period: “Rousey was compensated $13 million for participation in seven UFC bouts of which she won six.”
This would be from the Carmouche win to the Holm loss, and the total would match the figures we transposed above from the expert report of Roger D. Blair.
Previous disclosures had revealed Ronda Rousey’s contract for her last two fights. She would have been paid a $3 million base purse ($500,000 of it had not been a title fight) along with a PPV bonus, where she gets $1 for every PPV starting at 200-400k buys, $2 for every 400-600k buys, $3 for every 600-900k buys, and $4 over 900k buys.
Conor McGregor’s payouts
$3,285,000 (includes $2.11M discretionary bonus) vs. Chad Mendes*
$4,476,662 or $4,536,932 vs. Jose Aldo — Aldo received $2,377,699
$5,576,315 vs. Nate Diaz 1 — Diaz received $2,838,158, and the PPV event generated $61 million.
$5,615,490 vs. Nate Diaz 2 — Diaz received $4,315,490.
$6,812,374 vs. Eddie Alvarez — the PPV event generated $66 million for UFC.
*Corrected: We originally had $2,642,204 for the Chad Mendes fight. This is incorrect. We regret the error.
Lawsuit documents also included Professor Robert Topel’s expert report that cites payouts from McGregor during the class period: “Conor McGregor was compensated nearly $20 million for participation in nine UFC bouts of which he won eight.”
This would have covered his first nine bouts in the UFC, from his bout with Marcus Brimage through the second Nate Diaz fight.
It’s worth noting that Conor McGregor is the UFC’s biggest ever draw, and has generated hundreds and hundreds of millions for the UFC during that same time span. The five pay-per-views he headlined during the period combined for over $54 million at the gate alone.
As a side note, much like the older financial figures from lawsuit documents already revealed in the past, these official payouts again pale in comparison to the inaccurate and significantly inflated numbers Forbes kept publishing about Conor McGregor through the years.
Forbes claimed that McGregor supposedly took home $27 million from UFCfor his bouts against Diaz and Alvarez, and $18 million for Mendes, Aldo and Diaz 1. His payouts from UFC’s own filings show that he didn’t even get close to half of those claimed figures.
Listen to the “Hey Not the Face!” episode on these payouts HERE.
UPDATE: Here are more payouts that were previously paywalled on Substack.
Brock Lesnar’s payouts
$3,000,000 vs. Alistair Overeem
$8,000,000 vs. Mark Hunt
Brock Lesnar’s $8 million purse for UFC 200 was the highest for years, with him forgoing a PPV cut and instead getting a set flat fee. He had a base purse of $2.5 million, with a $5.5 million side deal to get to his total.
Georges St-Pierre’s payouts
$4,314,289 vs. Jake Shields — Shields received $580,000
$3,197,908 vs. Carlos Condit
$4,116,690 vs. Nick Diaz
$3,555,344 vs. Johny Hendricks
Anderson Silva’s payouts
$2,506,034 vs. Vitor Belfort
$2,000,000 vs. Yushin Okami
$2,506,034 vs. Chael Sonnen 2 — Sonnen received $1,050,000
$2,000,000 vs. Stephan Bonnar
$3,222,253 vs. Chris Weidman
$4,374,326 vs. Chris Weidman 2
$3,429,082 vs. Nick Diaz
$3,250,000 vs. Michael Bisping
$4,208,675 vs. Daniel Cormier
Jon Jones’ payouts
$2,278,553 vs. Rashad Evans
$1,566,196 vs. Vitor Belfort
$2,750,000 vs. Chael Sonnen — Sonnen received $1,050,000
$1,173,560 vs. Alexander Gustafsson
$1,237,880 vs. Glover Teixeira
$3,637,500 vs. Daniel Cormier 1 — Cormier received $1,140,000
$2,677,530 vs. Ovince St. Preux
Jon Jones clashed with the UFC over his pay for years, and it’s not hard to see why, given how the longtime top pound-for-pound star had smaller payouts than the other PPV draws on the list.
After years of negotiations and sitting on the sidelines, Jones reportedly signed a new 8-fight deal in 2023 that supposedly made him the “highest-paid UFC heavyweight” ever. As listed above, that recognition used to belong to Brock Lesnar who earned $8 million for UFC 200.
It’s worth asking if that new record setting figure for Jones is guaranteed like Lesnar’s for each of the eight fights on his deal, or if it is only for special circumstances (like holding the belt) and/or after clearing PPV targets.
$1,042,736 vs. Mickey Gall
$400,000 vs. Jon Fitch
$475,000 vs. Nick Diaz
$250,000 vs. Rory MacDonald
$245,000 vs. Henry Cejudo
$350,000 vs. Tim Elliott
Longtime flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson clashed with the UFC over not having a cut of the PPV in the past. For his eighth straight title defense against Henry Cejudo, he was on a contract that paid $135,000 to show and $60,000 to win, and only got to $245,000 after a $50,000 performance of the night bonus. For his ninth title defense against Elliott, he got a flat fee of $350,000 with no win bonus or PPV points.
The rest of this BE exclusive includes payouts from several more UFC stars like Tyron Woodley and Michael Bisping, full UFC contracts of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Matt Hughes, plus details on Lyoto Machida‘s multi-million Bellator deal, so head over to our Substack for the full post.
For an audio version and extra insight on this topic from John Nash, listen to the latest Hey Not The Face! episode here.
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