Fans of mixed martial arts are a caring bunch. Why else would they worry so much about how much money fighters make, even though most of them make more money than the fans themselves? Our story reporting UFC 129′s fighter salaries has caused much debate on the internet and much concern over how underpaid UFC fighters are. A lot of this centers around UFC 129′s main event star – and arguably the sport’s biggest star – Georges St-Pierre. GSP made his normal base salary of $200,000 plus another $200,000 win bonus at the event, for a total of $400,000 in pay. But, as I always remind readers, that doesn’t include any cut of the pay-per-view revenues a fighter might receive, or back room bonuses (for example, the UFC reportedly gave GSP a Hummer and $500,000 after he defeated Matt Hughes at UFC 65) or money earned from sponsors (on the flipside, this also doesn’t take into account how much of his purse a fighter has to pay to his manager/agent, trainer/gym/training partners, etc.). So how much did GSP really make at UFC 129?
We have no idea how much of his purse St-Pierre has to pay out to his people, so we will only try to figure out his gross income. We know that he made $400,000 in base salary plus win bonus for the event. And big-name fighters appearing in the main event of a UFC PPV can reportedly make in the six-figure range from sponsors. That would bring GSP’s gross for UFC 129 into the half a million-plus dollar range. Now, to determine his cut of the PPV revenues. The UFC and its fighters have been very secretive in regards to PPV pay, and rightfully so – you wouldn’t want to whole world to know how much you make (or pay your employees) if you didn’t have to. However, there was a breach in this wall of silence in 2007 when Randy Couture and the UFC were embroiled in a contract dispute. At that time, after The Natural was hammering the company in the media about their cheapskate ways, the UFC released how much Couture made for his UFC 68 appearance versus Tim Sylvia. At that time, at least in the case of Couture, this is what the UFC paid its big-name fighters for PPV buys:
Less than 100,000 buys: No money
100,000-175,000 buys: $1.00/buy
175,000-300,000 buys: $1.50/buy
300,000-330,000 buys: $2.00/buy
Over 330,000 buys: $3.00/buy
You would have to assume that a fighter of GSP’s caliber would be getting a cut of the PPV revenue. So, based on the scale above (which I realize is a flawed approach since it was from four years ago), how much did St-Pierre get in PPV revenue from last Saturday night? Reportedly the PPVsold in the 800,000-900,000 range, so we’ll base our pay estimates on a buyrate of 850,000. GSP would get paid $75,000 for 100,000-175,000 buys; another $187,500 for 175,000-300,000 buys; an additional $60,000 for 300,000-330,000 buys; and, finally, $1,560,000 for 330,000-850,000 buys. His estimated grand total of the PPV revenue?$1,882,500. But, as we said before, this is based on a four year old contract that Randy Couture had, but it’s the best data we currently have. You’d hope that fighters get a bigger piece of the pie now, considering the explosion of mixed martial arts over the past four years.
Based on these estimates, it appears that Georges St-Pierre made close to $2.5 million from UFC 129. Still feel sorry for him?