Ronda Rousey, the first-ever UFC women’s bantamweight champion (and first-ever female main event draw), may have been the star of last Saturday’s pay-per-view, but she wasn’t paid like one.
Yahoo! announced on Thursday, February 28 that Rousey received less upfront money than some of the undercard fighters — guys, who really didn’t deserve it either when you compare their performances to those of Rousey and her opponent Liz Carmouche.
Anyone familiar with pricing of UFC events should know you get two options when making a purchase. Standard definition runs $44.99, while high definition is $10 more.
Assuming that everyone just buys the standard definition telecast, that means Rousey greatly contributed to earning the company close to $24 million on one night.
Her pay: $90,000, and that includes $45,000 for winning the fight. The Yahoo! report also revealed that Carmouche earned $12,000.
Meanwhile, in a horrible co-main event, Lyoto Machida did just enough to win a decision over a clumsy and ineffectual Dan Henderson.
The fight elicited boos from the live audience, and, let’s face it, those of us watching at home. Whether you won or lost that fight, you needed to be ashamed of your performance.
Unfortunately, contracts are contracts, and that means Machida and Henderson walked away with close to $500,000 between them for putting viewers to sleep.
But before we start organizing a lynch mob for UFC owner Dana White and calling him a sexist over the disparity, there are some things to consider about these figures.
First, Henderson and Machida are veterans of the sport. They’ve earned their keep, even if they didn’t live up to that Saturday night. White was justified in making the contract with them that he did. How was he to know they’d both forget to fight?
Secondly, Rousey and Carmouche were unproven commodities. Placing them in the main event was a risk for White. If Rousey lost, then there goes the hype.
Any mileage Carmouche would have gotten out of a victory would have been forgotten by casual fans because she lacks the out-of-ring charisma that comes so easy for Rousey.
Had Rousey dismantled Carmouche in 12 seconds, most fans would have felt cheated. White needed this main event to be a show-stopper, and he needed Rousey to win to get more mileage out of the women’s division.
Going into Saturday, there simply were no guarantees he would get it. But he got it, all right. Big time.
So if you want to question whether White and the company are doing right by Rousey, consider this: most fighters on the main card get a share of PPV revenues. UFC does not share what those numbers are.
UFC is also known to give out “locker room bonuses” for a solid performance. These numbers are generally not shared either.
And as Yahoo! points out, White has addressed previous reports that Carmouche did not own furniture and drove a worn-out car.
“She’s going to have a kitchen table, and a couch, and whatever else the [expletive] she wants,” White said.
UFC is one of the most well-run organizations in sports, and when White says stuff like that, you can’t help but think he’s understating it.
Most of the fighters, who have worked with White, have always found mutual respect with the MMA czar.
Yes, White is crass and boastful and sometimes abrasive, but you don’t get to where the UFC is today in reputation and success by constantly screwing over the talent, and few have complained of the rewards once they fought their way into the spotlight.
In much the same way a rookie quarterback, who performs well his first season in the NFL, always makes more money in year two, you can bet better days are ahead for Rousey and any other female MMA fighter, who steps up and makes a name for herself.
And regarding Rousey: Get used to her.
The champ’s already landed a role in one of the next Hunger Games movies, and, though Carmouche may have exposed some chinks in her armor, it’s unlikely she’s finished hurting the women at 135.
That seems to be what she does best. And that’s something the UFC, and its fans, highly value.