You don't even see the irony in your statement do you? You compare to other athletic sports, all of which pay at least 20 times what the UFC does. I was comparing to freakin janitors and you want to do the NFL?? Fine, guess what ... even if you're worth NOTHING to the team, sell no PPVs, sit on your ass your whole career and sip Coors, you still get a MINIMUM of $285,000 / year as mandated by the NFL (and this was in 2007).
Making more as you're worth more to the team is obviously a logical thing. What it does not justify is paying below poverty line salaries for the rank and file member of your profession (who in this case happen to among the elite of their profession, just not elite of the elite). That is termed as exploitation. No one is asking for million dollar payouts for the Reljics and Petzs of the world, but $5000?
And don't tell me the UFC can't afford it, both the Fertittas are billionaires solely on the basis of the UFC ... if they're paying Ortiz half a mil for doing some of the worst PPV sales in recent years, they can pay a few thousand more to the other fighters.
The whole "It's communist" to expect fair remuneration argument shows the shallow left-right lines that America is divided on. If it's isn't complete corporate-greed loving, then it has to be communist. I am right leaning in my economic and political views and dislike socialism and freeloading, but apparently in America that means people will force me to categorize myself on the other extreme as some kind of Gordon Gecko.
Newsflash, if it wasn't for unions and labor laws, you'd probably be choking on dust in a coal-mine somewhere 7 days a week (yup, weekends were brought about due to union action).
The same old you gotta be worth a lot to make any money thing. It's a free country, if they weren't making the company money, they'd be fired. (but on a side note, if they wanted to QUIT, watch out for those UFC contracts!)
Fact is you cannot gauge exactly how much money they're making the company ... can they have a card with only two fights of the big names? How much do you think that would make? I doubt anyone would shell out more than $15 bucks for a 30 min event. And a lot of the times those main fights are boring as hell too, while the rank-and-file fighters are the ones people enjoy. Either way, any 2nd grader could calculate that "what they're making the company" is a lot more than $5000 on a $30-$70 mil pie.
Also, fighters aren't exclusive in only being valuable based on how much they make the company, EVERY job is like that. Companies don't pay people money because they're charities, they do it because they make money from their employees' work.
A manager who gets the company good deals and boosts sales / productivity will obviously get a better pay packet. So will an engineer, a programmer etc. But that doesn't mean that all the other managers or engineers somehow have to subsist on minimum wage in a company making billions, because "only the best" deserve a decent starting salary. In fact, in most of those professions, no matter how much you suck, your experience level will inevitably add on to your base salary ... whereas a fighter will get poorer and poorer the more experienced he gets unless he hits the lottery and becomes contender level.
UFC 116 did around $70 mil actually, just calculate from the 4 mil gate and 1.16 mil PPV buys. Even after cost deductions for TV cos, arenas, marketing etc., they have to be making at least 20% profit on the Gross sales, and that is without counting the massive amounts they bring in from merchandising such as UFC clothing, videogames, action figures etc. I would wager the merchandising profits rival those of the actual PPVs, as they do for most sports.
$8000 is actually a mid-level figure, guys like Reljic picked up $5000 for their last fight at UFC 116 ... so he's effectively making $10-15K a year as are most base level fighters. This is if he's lucky and injury-free the whole year in a profession where half the top athletes are injured most of the year.
You use your example as a cameraman, but never state how much you make? Because even you probably make at least twice if not 3 times the $15/24K a year. And no offense, but your showing up 30 mins early and pulling some frayed wires apart in no way compares to getting punched in the face every day and being driven to exhaustion. I'm not doubting that what you do is hard work and long hours, but I'd still rate it less intense than what these guys go through.
Like I said, no one is expecting the "cameraman" level guys of the UFC like Reljic to be paid at the "actor" level guys like Lesnar (although your comparison is a bit "apples and spaceships" itself since it cuts across professions whereas I'm talking about others in the same profession or similar ones such as NFL and Boxing), but at least pay them "cameraman" level salaries. What if you got paid $15K a year? What if there was only one successful co. in your field, because it had the first mover advantage?
Also, fighters may not train 40 hours a week, but most of them do this full time (only exceptions at the UFC level are Sonnen and Carwin). You can't exactly go and calculate investment portfolios after severe exhaustion and beatdowns for 4 hours.
The UFC is only getting away with it because they're using their unanimity with the sport as an exploitation, as opposed to other sports orgs that have no real competition like the NFL and NBA, which have fair pay structures because of years of effort by sports managers and united efforts by athletes.