Did Regulators Deceive the Public About Brock Lesnar’s UFC Pay?

Information recently revealed in the UFC anti trust lawsuit disclosed Brock Lesnar pay details.  These details revealed pay far greater than reported previously by athletic commissions.

Is this a problem?  Perhaps.

Athletic Commissions require varying contractual disclosure to be filed with them setting out contracted athlete pay.  This serves 2 purposes.  The first is to protect the fighter.  Commissions are a safeguard to guarantee promoters pay fighters their contracted purse.   The second purpose depends on if the athletic commission shares purse details with the public.  Many do.  When fight purses are published otherwise private contract details are revealed.  This informs other fighters about market realities and helps them better gauge whether they are receiving fair pay for their work.  It places them in a better informed future negotiation position.

Enter Brock Lesnar and details revealed in the anti trust lawsuit.  Lesnar has competed in 8 UFC events during his career.  According to information released by athletic commissions following these bouts Lesnar’s pay was reported as follows

As reported by BloodyElbow, UFC anti trust lawsuit documents reveal that Lesnar contracted to receive far more than the majority of the above paydays.  Lesnar contracted to receive, via his company Deathclutch, $750,000 for bouts he was not a champion in and $1.65 million for bouts where he was the defending champion.  While it is unclear which bouts this pay scale applied to this information does not square with any of the information revealed by the above athletic commissions.

The following contractual clauses were revealed:

For each and every Bout, in which Fighter participates where he is not recognized as a UFC Champion, by Zuffa, within thirty (30) days following the completion of each Bout, as contemplated in Section 7.1 (c) of the Promotional Agreement, Zuffa shall pay to DEATHCLUTCH, via bank wire or check, the amount of Three Hundred Seventy Five Thousand Dollars (US $375,000.00), less all permissible or required deductions and withholdings. Within sixty (60) days following the completion of each Bout, as contemplated in Section 7.1 (c) of the Promotional Agreement, Zuffa shall pay to DEATHCLUTCH, via bank wire or check, the additional amount of Three Hundred Seventy Five Thousand Dollars (US $375,000), less all permissible or required deductions and withholdings for a total combined payment of Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars (US $750,000.00).

“For each and every Bout, in which Fighter participates where he is recognized as a UFC Champion by Zuffa, within thirty (30) days following the completion of each Bout, as contemplated in Section 7.1 (a) of the Promotional Agreement Zuffa shall pay to DEATHCLUCTH, via bank wire or check, the amount of Eight Hundred Twelve Thousand Five Hundred Dollars (US $812,500.00), less permissible or required deductions and withholdings. Within sixty (60) days following the completion of each Bout, as contemplated in Section 7.1 (a) of the Promotional Agreement, Zuffa shall pay to DEATHCLUTCH, via bank wire or check, the additional amount of Eight Hundred Twelve Thousand Five Hundred Dollars (US $812,500.00), less all permissible or required deductions and withholdings, for a total combined payment of One Million Six Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars (US $1,625,000.000).

It is in fact speculated that with Pay Per View points Lesnar earned even far above these disclosed amounts.

Nevada requires that bout agreements be filed with the commission prior to a bout and that “An unarmed combatant must be paid in full according to his or her bout agreement “.  California regulations require that “The original contract entered into between…promoters and boxers shall be placed on file with the commission at the time it is approved pursuant to Rule 222.” And further that ” No contract between a promoter and manager or boxer shall be enforced by the commission until all contracts between the promoter and the contestants for a particular match are filed with the commission and meet the requirements of these rules and the provisions of the code applicable to professional boxing. All contracts for an event shall be filed with the commission no later than the time periods specified in Rule 240.

Why would Athletic Commissions reveal anything lower than actual pay?  Are they being deceived by promoters and fighters?  Or are they allowing themselves to be used as tools to deceive the public?  Whose interest is being served when an athletic commission either does not know how much a fighter is actually contracted to be paid or reveals a figure lower than the actual pay to the public?

This is an area deserving of regulatory scrutiny and reform.  Fighters, who do not enjoy a union or other organized labor organization to protect their interests, rely on commissions who exists for their physical and financial protection.  Regulators should not echo deceptive pay details to the public.  It is a poor practice at best and at worst one that hits fighters in the pocketbook taking away one of their key protections in an already physically and financially harsh industry.

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