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Morning Report: Miesha Tate says UFC fighters ‘absolutely deserve to be compensated’ after big ESPN deal

UFC 205 Weigh-in Photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The big news of the week is that the UFC will be ending their partnership with Fox after selling their television rights to ESPN in an exclusive deal that will give the worldwide leader in sports the rights to 30 Fight Night events per year as well as preliminary card action for 12 UFC Pay-Per-Views each year, on top of various other accompanying UFC content. But the real kicker is the price tag: the five-year deal is worth $1.5 billion dollars total, or $300 million dollars per year.

It’s a big number and a big deal and in the aftermath, the big question is, what does this mean going forward? Well, at least one former fighter thinks the ESPN deal is very exciting for everyone involved.

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Miesha Tate, recently discussed the deal on her radio show, MMA Tonight, on SiriusXM Rush, saying that it is great for the UFC and will continue to grow MMA to “new levels.”

“It’s incredible,” Tate said. “It’s a big jump up. Just when you think the promotion has hit the ceiling so to speak, it’s just a glass one that they appear to break through and go on to new levels. This is massive. This is a huge transition for the company and I think everyone is pretty excited about it.

“The fact that it’s a five-year deal and there’s just so much that ESPN has to offer. This isn’t just a one road venture, there are multiple avenues. This is a tree of ventures with ESPN and lots of opportunities for the UFC to branch out in different shapes and forms and really grow the platform. We’re putting MMA on the map in new places and growing the sport, which is awesome to see.”

While not the home run deal they were said to be looking for initially (reportedly the UFC was hoping for a deal in the $400 million per year range) the ESPN deal is undoubtedly a success for WME-IMG, who purchased the UFC in 2016 for $4.2 billion. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Though by some metrics the UFC had a banner year in 2017, it also lost several of their biggest stars and as a result have had a lackluster year so far in 2018. This deal not only assuages some of the financial burdens associated with the UFC’s $4.2 billion dollar price tag but, Tate says, it’s also proof that even in down times, the UFC just keeps getting bigger.

“You can say what you want and think what you want but the reality is the UFC is doing fine and the UFC is going to continue to grow,” Tate said. “Sure, has the UFC maybe had a little bit more of a rough go this past year? I could agree with that. There’s been a huge transition with WME purchasing the UFC and it’s a process. There’s been a lot of stuff going on in the UFC but just because you’re slowing down for a little bit doesn’t mean you’re not setting up the groundwork to build something amazing, and I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing here after a little bit of a rough year. We’re seeing the work and the time and the effort that the UFC is putting in with the major companies to elevate the sport to the next level and I think it’s just going to continue to grow.”

But as the UFC continues to grow, so too grow their problems, most notably, the issue of fighter compensation. Reportedly, UFC President Dana White has suggested that the deal will be good for fighters as it raises their profile and gives them more promotional opportunities, but with the UFC’s Reebok apparel deal functionally killing most of the sponsorship market, it’s unclear if the fighters will see any direct increase in money as a result of the ESPN deal, something Tate believes should happen since the fighters are the ones who give the UFC value in the first place.

“It’s wonderful to see all this unfolding for the UFC,” Tate said. “It’s exciting for the fighters too. This is a great opportunity for them for future endorsements and things like that. It’s good all around. This is exactly where the UFC needed to go.

“There’s definitely gonna be a lot more money flowing through the UFC with this deal and it has to trickle down to the fighters, right? This is public knowledge. I know in the past the UFC has been somewhat secretive about exactly what the make and there’s speculation on what percentage actually goes to the fighters and how much it costs to run the business and all these things, but this is completely transparent. We know exactly what the UFC is making, we know exactly what this deal offers, and that’s not everything either. That’s just what they’re doing with ESPN. So I think it’s probably got to motivate some of these fighters to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, these numbers don’t quite add up.’ So there probably will be some tougher negotiations and all that.

“I can only imagine that it’s going to lead to fighters wanting more money, deserving more money. Without the fighters, the UFC doesn’t make these kinds of deals. The fighters are the laborers. The fighters are the ones making this happen, they’re the entertainers, they are what makes the UFC go around and they absolutely deserve to be compensated. It’s a short career and it’s certainly hard on your body - probably takes years off of our lives - so I think it’s reasonable to ask for fair compensation.”

In general, a rising tide lifts all boats; we’ll see if that holds true even when the biggest boat is $4.2 billion dollars underwater.


GSP. Georges St-Pierre opens up about Nate Diaz fight that didn’t happen, future UFC plans.

Beef. Paul Daley says Michael Page’s ‘whole world is going to unravel’ when they fight.

Goals. Roy Nelson eyes rematch with Matt Mitrione and ‘dream fight’ with Fedor next.

GP. Phil Davis explains why he didn’t enter the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix.


Look at out boy Petesy killing it at Bellator 200.

Mortal Kombat.

MMA Squared.

TMZ had a lot of UFC content today.


The MMA Beat. Discussing the ESPN deal and UFC Liverpool.

After the Beat. The panel answering fan questions from Twitter.

Fights Gone By. Jack Slack discussing Stephen Thompson vs. Darren Till.


Come the f**k on.

Short notice?

Cyborg got a ton of boxing options.


A different kind of hero.

Sick deal.

You wouldn’t know that this is one of the best cards of the year by this mundane poster.

This is awesome.


Charlie Ward (4-3) vs. Martin Hudson (4-4); Bellator 200, May 25.

Cub Swanson (25-9) vs. Renato Moicano (12-1-1); UFC 227, Aug 4.

Aleksei Oleinik (56-11-1) vs. Mark Hunt (13-12-1, 1 NC); UFC Moscow, Sept. 15.


2012: Cole Konrad successfully defended his Bellator heavyweight title at Bellator 70 by submitting Eric Prindle with a kimura in 60 seconds. Also that evening, Rick Hawn won the season six lightweight tournament with a unanimous decision win over Brent Weedman.

2013: Cain Velasquez retained his UFC heavyweight title with an 81 second TKO of Antonio Silva at UFC 160. In the co-main event, Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt put on a Fight of the Year contender culminating in JDS knocking out Hunt with a spinning hook kick. This event was also notable as the final appearance of T.J. Grant who knocked out Gray Maynard to earn a UFC lightweight title shot that he never got since his career was cut short by concussion issues.


Another dual fight card weekend with neither card being particularly great. Still, fights are fight and there are definitely some gems out there this weekend so enjoy the fights and see y’all on Monday.



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