A reality TV show kept a sport alive. This statement fits only to a few elite reality TV shows, and one of them is The Ultimate Fighter. Back in 2005, UFC was struggling heavily on the financial frontier. TUF at that time started as an experiment. The original deal between UFC and Spike TV was for one season only. However, the first season’s immense success and whopping 10 million viewership of the finale led to network representatives and UFC owners agreeing on a deal for next season in the alley itself beside all the trucks.
As recorded and mentioned by Betway, TUF has given 10 champions, 22 Challengers, 5 Hall of Famers, 105 UFC regulars with over 10 fights, 212 Fights of the Night, and 227 Performances of the Night.
These stats in itself shows the immense contribution of TUF in terms of quality fighters to UFC. Thus, along with increased viewership, pay per views, and popularity, TUF has also given quality talent to UFC who have gone on to become legends in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Some of TUF’s prominent names are Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Matt Serra, Rashad Evans, Stephan Bonnar, and Michael Bisping.
Even though the stature, popularity, and financial flow of UFC has grown over the years, thanks to TUF. Yet, when you compare UFC with that of NFL and boxing, you somehow in your heart know that UFC still has a long way to go. Most of the time, the player’s fee is kept confidential; however, in 2011, George St-Pierre revealed that he earns a modest fee of $4-$5 million per fight.
In one of the sittings where the inner workings of the UFC’s fighter contract are discussed, Lorenzo Fertitta stated that people often want to compare UFC with other sports, in some sense, it’s fair. However, there are many other aspects to be taken into consideration, some of which are unique to UFC. For example, 100 percent of production and marketing cost is born by UFC alone. Whereas when you look at NFL and boxing, both get a license fee from Fox and HBO. Apart from that, Fertitta further added that they had to open offices in various states and get laws passed over Canada and the U.S, which was another costly affair.
Thus, if you go by the words of Zuffa’s CEO, there are many expenses that UFC bears and are unique to their sport and business. However, it provides little solution to fighters who might feel discouraged seeing other sports stars making much more than them.
Professor Zen Eigen of Northwestern University Labor Law remarked UFC contract as worse in entertainment or sports. This remark came on Alvarez’s contract, whose copy is available to the general public. Even though Fertitta says that UFC has created almost 70 millionaires and some of them multimillionaires, Courta, one of those multimillionaires, believes that fighters might be getting less than what they deserve.
As fans and admirers of MMA sport, we only hope that fighters get the pay they deserve in times to come.