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Alexandra Steigrad for The New York Post reports that the UFC has approved a $300 million dividend to UFC's investors -- a group that includes Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Gisele Bündchen, Ben Affleck, and Serena and Venus Williams. It is the first dividend payment since Endeavor acquired the UFC.
About half of the $300 million will go to UFC parent company Endeavor. Wahlberg will get about $500,000 and Bundchen $145,000, while UFC president Dana White, Endeavor CEO Emanuel, and Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell will get $3 million each approximately. UFC private equity backers KKR and Silverlake, which own 42 percent of Endeavor, will also reportedly cash in.
"Most of the time when you do a dividend, you don't distribute your entire balance sheet," said a financial source. "If you were going to dividend out 10 percent of your cash, that would be an ordinary course. If you were going to dividend 90 percent of your cash, that's not."
The UFC will reportedly be left with $50 million in cash after the dividend.
The Post reports that UFC fighters cost the league less than $150 million in 2019, under 16 percent of its $900 million revenue that year. The NBA and MLB pay out approximately half the yearly revenue tp athletes.
"It's different league by league," Endeavor president Mark Shapiro said. "We pay our fighters significantly more than any other MMA organization. They deserve it. Fighter compensation has gone up commensurately with the success of UFC."
Shapiro denies that the dividend payment has anything to do with the failed IPO, calling it the "normal course of business" after an "incredible year" at UFC.
However, sources tell the post otherwise.
"Because an idea did not work, the UFC is now going to be the next source of cash until Endeavor goes back out again to try to go public," said a source close to Endeavor. "It's now draining the UFC in order to prop up the rest of the company."
Sources also told The Post that Emanuel doesn't want to lose his cash-cow UFC business to an IPO or spinoff.
"Ari is adamantly against UFC going public. Endeavor wouldn't be worth as much," the source said, and added that they also "don't want the fighters to know exactly how profitable the UFC is."
Steigrad also questioned whether the UFC will be left with sufficient revenue to adequately address challenges from Bellator MMA and ONE Championship.