Yep, that’s the title of my master’s project, which I have recently defended (successfully). I’ll spare you 40 pages and give you the quick and dirty.
1. MMA salaries are efficient, meaning that the more you pay out in salary per fight card, the more revenue you are likely to make. This is a no-brainer that I’ve proved with the data; the higher quality fighters get (demand?) higher salaries and consumers pay more for higher quality.
2. If a fighter gets ~200k show and 0 to win, that fighter is likely getting a cut of PPV.
3. The system of PPV revenue sharing works; giving guys a cut of PPV sales drives up PPV buys.
4. The art of matchmaking matters. From a salary perspective, you’d think that compelling match-ups would consist of taking the top quality (paid) guys and matching them up against each other. However, there is no “balanced ticket effect” – salary fairness/equality between fighters doesn’t boost PPV sales or Live Gate numbers (attendance). Fans may bemoan Joe Silva’s match making, claiming XYZ fighter needs to fight ABC fighter, but from a revenue standpoint, they are doing things right: the UFC is making money.
5. MMA fighters are underpaid, and I can prove it. (Monopoly/Monopsony market effects on salary, inter-sport comparisons, etc)
There is a lot I still don’t know, and plenty more research to be done. However, I’m happy to field questions about any of these points or various MMA salary issues in general. I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories of MMA salary!