Fighting a Cage Match to Turn the UFC Into a National Phenomenon

Unlike the N.B.A., though, the UFC is run almost entirely from one office. It produces its own events, owns its own intellectual property, sets the amounts it will pay its fighters and all but dictates fight nights to its athletes, who are independent contractors. It is possibly the most vertically integrated of any sport.

.. The brothers grew up in gambling, a highly regulated industry, and they decided that the way to build the UFC was to get it regulated by state athletic commissions, making the sport palatable to a broader audience

.. The brothers lost $8 million to $10 million a year for the next few years, and briefly considered surrender. In 2005, they opted for a final win-or-walk-away push in the form a $10 million investment to produce a reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter,” which ran on the Spike television channel. Combatants lived and trained together in a house and fought one bout per episode.

.. “If these fighters were boxers, they’d make $30 million, not $3 million,” Mr. Maysey contends. “Boxing is competitive; promoters have to compete. They’ll pay out 85 percent of revenue to fighters and keep the rest. In mixed martial arts, those numbers are reversed.”

.. The two brothers have equal stakes in Zuffa. And while there is no hint of tension between them, a lawyer insisted that their contract needed a dispute-resolution mechanism in case they ever differed over corporate strategy. Lorenzo had an idea: They would fight.

“A sport jujitsu match, three five-minute rounds,” he said. “Dana would be the referee. Whoever won got to vote the other guy’s shares.”