This is a rough article just to help collect some info on the two sports. I'm not going to write a beautiful essay.
"Overall, the US Open 2019 had generated close to $350 million in revenue. On the other hand, the 2019 French Open’s number stood at $255 million. Similarly, Australian Open registered similar numbers to US Open and Wimbledon stood closer to $300 million. This huge deficit of Roland Garros is because of ticket sales.
$159,352,918 (ATP revenue 2019)"
Combined, that's 1.2 + .15 = about 1.35bn for Tennis
"Morgan Stanley estimates 2021 revenue will be $930 million. (UFC) If UFC is about 90% of MMA, then MMA is at 1bn revenue, about."
So the two are roughly comparable size wise.
They are also individual sports.
Looking at the chart below, we can see what tennis players earn when ranked 500-600 (in earnings).
18k per year! Less than UFC entry level fighters. (15 assuming half wins x 2.5 = 37.5k)
30k per year, still less than UFC entry level.
Ranked 400 and above, they are on 61k better than UFC entry level, but I am guessing the UFC's 400th highest earner is also no longer on 10/10... maybe they're on 20/20 so, about 75k
At the very top, the top 10 tennis players make about 6m. That's perhaps a higher average than the top 10 UFC draws.
In 2021, the average earnings for a male tennis player ranked anywhere from one to one thousand in the world were $185,106.59.
The average is misleading due to extreme values at each end of the pay scale, with world number one Djokovic earning $9,100,547 and world number 1000 Michal Mikula earning $4,273.
Therefore the median is a more accurate representation, at $22,362.
The comparison isn't an exact match for the WTA as there are only 550 female players who earned prize money in 2021. The average earnings for a WTA player were $254,394.55 and the median $75,888.
This means the payout to men was about 185m and to women, about 138m. Total, 322m
This is 24% of the total revenue from the tournaments.
This sport has a players' association and is very well established over many decades.
Draw your own conclusions.
But if you want mine:
MMA is much newer and if labor refuses to organise in any way, they really can't blame employers for not paying higher rates. Business's whole goal is to make money for their owners, and you get what you can negotiate. The UFC is basically a monopsonist or close to it, so of course they can win in negotiations and pay only 17%.
24% isn't a whole lot higher, and among the tennis players only about 200 participate in the main draw of the big tournaments, and these top 200 make about 321k per year.
It's unrealistic for fans to say, just because you're in the UFC, the biggest MMA org, you are truly elite, and you deserve USD1m per year or anything comparable to what NFL and NBA pay. It's just not the right comparison, due to the different sizes, legal structures, industry structure, team aspect, existence of unions, etc.
Tennis is a much fairer comparison. The sport is big enough to support about 200 "elite" players and the same applies to MMA. Below that, you're not making that much money, and at the bottom end, you aren't able to live full time on it. It's fair enough that entry level UFC fighters are in this bucket/bracket. The idea that every single fighter in the UFC should be paid a "living wage" whatever that number is, is flawed.