Dana White and Co. at the Risk of Losing $1.6B as Zuffa Suffers Major Setback in UFC Anti-Trust Lawsuit

Published 11/02/2023, 12:41 AM EDT

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The rise of the UFC under Dana White has been staggering. However, the promotion has come under fire from fans and analysts state that they might have to pay for that. Francis Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, left the promotion over contract term disputes. Ngannou later revealed that the compensation and terms of the contract were too restrictive. He later signed with the PFL in a massive, multi-million dollar deal, which also allowed him the chance to face Tyson Fury in a boxing match.

With the news of the latest developments in the anti-trust case against the UFC, the promotion may incur heavy penalties. According to a report by MMAfighting, a group of fighters led by UFC veterans have secured class-action status in their lawsuit against the UFC. The potential payout if the lawsuit is successful may exceed a billion dollars!

Dana White and the UFC face the possibility of massive legal damages


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Over the years, the UFC and Dana White have been called out by fighters and fans to provide better pay for the athletes. Legends of the sport like Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz even left the promotion at the height of their prowess due to disputes over compensation. And with Francis Ngannou’s recent departure fresh in everyone’s minds, the fighter pay issue in the UFC continues.

While other major sports leagues like the NBA and NFL share close to 50% of their revenue with the athletes, the UFC lags behind. According to John Nash, the UFC shares an estimated 13% – 15% of their revenue with the fighters. This has led to 2 class-action lawsuits being filed against the promotion.

In a recent report by MMAFighting, the UFC’s parent company ‘Zuffa’ has suffered a massive blow in its attempt to dismiss the lawsuits against it. The promotion’s attorneys had appealed against a federal judge’s decision to grant a group of fighters suing the UFC the designation of ‘class’. According to the report, if the lawsuit is successful, the UFC potentially faces an estimated $800 million to $1.6 billion in damages. The 1,200 potential plaintiffs in the case have alleged that the UFC’s practices towards them occurred during 2010-2017.

UFC veterans like Jon Fitch and Cung Le are leading the group of fighters. The lawsuit from the fighters has accused the UFC of lowering fighter pay through anti-competitive practices. It also includes claims that the UFC controlled the ability of elite MMA fighters to fight for other promotions.

The lawsuit has also led to the revelation of contract details of fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov. And fans will be interested to see how much the ‘Eagle’ got paid in his early days in the UFC!

‘The Eagle’ and his early contract details with the UFC 

To strengthen their case, Zuffa presented fighter contracts and other documents to the court. Among the documents was also Khabib Nurmagomedov’s contract, which can be found on Scribd. It’s from December 18, 2013, and seems to be one of his earliest UFC contracts since he joined in 2012.

via Getty

The contract states that Nurmagomedov got $21,000 per show or win which would be applicable for 20 months or four fights, whichever came first. But, that’s not all that he earned when going against Rafael dos Anjos in April 2014. UFC on Fox 11 payouts show he took home $64,000, splitting equally at $32,000 for the show and the win. His contract was updated before that fight.


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Before he fought Michael Johnson in November 2016, Nurmagomedov signed another contract. This time, he made $80,000 for each show or win when facing Edson Barboza.

The numbers indicate the staggering disparity between the pay for UFC fighters and other professional athletes. With the lawsuit moving forward, it remains to be seen if fighter pay in the UFC will see reforms in the future.


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Do you think UFC fighters deserve better compensation than they are provided by the promotion and Dana White? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Written by:

Dushyant Patni


One take at a time

Dushyant Patni is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. Dushyant’s love for Mixed Martial Arts began at the very young age of fourteen, something that inspired him to take up the sport himself. He has worked as a writer and an editor across various organizations before putting his skills to use at ES.
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Edited by:

Joyita Das