UFC Co-founder Art Davie Reveals the Exact Paycheck of Fighters From 30 Years Ago and It Is Eye-Opening

Published 01/02/2023, 7:59 AM EST

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UFC co-founder Art Davie has revealed the details regarding the fighters’ pay from the first-ever event of the MMA organization. The first UFC event was held in 1993 in Denver, Colorado, at the McNichols Sports Arena.

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The first-ever UFC event, UFC 1, was a one-of-a-kind sporting event at that time. Fighters with different martial arts backgrounds fought each other in a tournament with only eight fighters. UFC 1 was the brainchild of Art Davie and Rorion Gracie. They wanted to know which style of martial arts is the most effective and superior. The matches were uncensored but did have bans on racking of the eye and biting opponents. The promotion now has a new set of rules compared to only two from the first event.

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UFC 1 had three rounds as compared to the five rounds that we witness today. Fighters who’d win, progress to the quarter-final, semi-final, and finals. The show successfully garnered PPV buys of over 86,000. It included fighters from sumo wrestling, taekwondo, and kickboxing just to name a few. The show turned out to be a success.

Art Davie paid a thousand dollars to the fighters who  lost at UFC 1

Art Davie appeared in an interview on the ‘Hannibal TV’ YouTube Channel over a month ago. He was told that some fans wanted to know how much the losers of the first-ever UFC show were paid. Davie said, “A thousand dollars.” The paycheck was very thin. The pay was a far cry from what fighters make today. Considering the profit that UFC 1 made, the fighters were significantly underpaid. Even the inflation at the time was lower than what it is today. Fighter pay has been a recurring theme in the famous promotion.

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The company has classified its events into three categories – low, medium, and high. The base pay for any fighter is $10,000. It can go up to 3 million dollars at the high-tier shows. The popularity of the fighters affects what they get paid. The fighters are given low-tier contracts when they first sign with the promotion. But their performances and reputation help them grow into the other tiers.

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The promotion is also known for limiting the fighters from having their own sponsors. They provide fighters with outfits that already include UFC’s sponsor’s names. This makes it difficult for fighters to secure some extra money for their fights. Most fighters are given their base earnings, and if a fighter manages to win any kind of an additional prize, they are given double their base pay. This is primarily a feature of the first two tiers – low and medium.

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What are your thoughts on UFC fighters’ pay situation? Drop your comments below.

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Written by:

Himanga Mahanta

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Himanga is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. He interned as a WWE author at Sportsmanor before joining EssentiallySports to pursue his interest as a sports journalist. Himanga is a big fan of UFC's Conor McGregor and considers him the most entertaining combat sports athlete of the 21st century.
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Edited by:

Rohini Kottu

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