Very Serious Investment Analysis: UFC NFTs vs. Jake Paul’s Endeavor stock buy-up

You’re a savvy investor. Of course you are. That’s why you wake up every morning, put on that three-piece suit, and slick your hair back with a half-pound of gel before you read the crop reports. But you’re also an unconventional, outside-the-box type motherfucker, which is why you’re always scoping out new ways to invest in everything from cryptocurrencies to cartoons of monkeys.

Thing is, now you’ve got a dilemma on your hands. You just heard about the UFC NFT “drop,” but mere days later you see that Jake Paul is investing in Endeavor and trying to rally others to do the same so they can change the UFC from within. There’s only room in your portfolio to get down with one of these, so now you’ve got to decide. Which is the better investment: the UFC NFTs or Jake Joseph Paul’s venture capital-led takeover of Endeavor?

First, maybe you need to decide what you mean by “better,” in this instance. Because if it only means ‘is more likely to leave me with more money than I started with,’ then yeah, it’s the Endeavor investment thing. We know this because, as savvy investors ourselves, we bought Endeavor stock BEFORE IT WAS COOL, way back in the spring of 2021 when the company first went public. Since then, our one (1) share of Endeavor has gained 6.48% in value as of the time of this writing.

Those UFC NFTs, on the other hand? Well, I don’t know how to break it to you, but NFTs in general seem to be pretty much bullshit. With most of them what you end up getting for your money is essentially a certificate saying that you own a digital picture or whatever, even though absolutely anyone could copy and save that exact same picture. The only way to make money off it is to find an even bigger sucker to pay you more for it than you paid originally. And though the market for suckers is incredibly robust these days (see also: the fact that NFTs even exist), you don’t hear too much about people getting rich off NFT flipping just yet.

The UFC NFTs, however, do seem to be a little different. In what way, you ask? Well for one thing, instead of being the only person who gets to say you own the digital image, you get to be one of many. According to the UFC Strike blog, they sold 100,000 “packs” at $50 each, with a maximum of five packs per person. But also, there were only 35 fight “moments” available, which means a bunch of people necessarily ended up with some of the same shit as each other. That makes this less like buying an original Picasso and more like buying some digital trading cards that are actually GIFs or whatever. You buy a pack and get whatever you get. Like baseball cards, only you can’t stick them in the spokes of your bike and also there’s no gum (which frankly is some bullshit).

Are these ever going to make you any money? You should assume the answer is: absolutely fucking not. Because not only would you have to convince someone to buy your precious GIF of Michael Chandler (bro they could just find it on the internet and save it to their phones if they love it so much), you’d also have to convince them to buy it off you and not one of the other saps who “owns” it. Plus, after “selling out” of these packs (lol at your artificially constructed sense of scarcity, dog), it’s not like the UFC and its NFT partner will just hang up their digital spurs and not make any more. People who want to buy this crap are going to get more chances, rest assured.

There’s also the fact that the UFC already did trading cards a while back. I know because they sent me several packs that I definitely did not want or ask for. Did those become a hot item? Nope, sure didn’t. But if you want to buy some hit me up. They must be around here somewhere and I never even opened the packs on account of I did not give a shit.

But here’s where it gets weird trying to compare these two exciting investment opportunities. What if your concept of better is not simple financial gain but actually helping UFC fighters with your investment dollar? That is, after all, the purported goal of Paul’s whole program. Buy up Endeavor stock, gain a voice as a shareholder, force them to improve pay and working conditions for UFC fighters. That’s the only reason it’s even newsworthy that he’s investing in Endeavor. Without that angle of him trolling the UFC by trying to buy into the parent company, the story is just ‘Area Man Buys Stock In Publicly Traded Company.’

Realistically, though, he and anyone who invests along with him have virtually zero chance of steering the ship from within. You can buy a ticket on the boat, but the real voting and decision-making power is still going to be in the hands of Endeavor honchos like Ari Emmanuel, as well as the Silver Lake private equity firm that used to own a good chunk of the UFC after the initial sale to Endeavor. You think the stone-hearted money men are really going to let Jake Paul and his merry band of misfit investors buy in and reshape something like the UFC, which constitutes a giant part of Endeavor’s core business? Not bloody likely, friendo.

Plus, if you’re an Endeavor shareholder, you’d be acting against your own interests if you demanded better pay and benefits for UFC fighters. One of the major reasons the UFC is so valuable to them, as both Endeavor and outside financial analysts have said repeatedly, is that the UFC business model allows it to keep almost all the damn money. Endeavor said it to investors at the time of the sale. Fucking Merrill Lynch and whoever else have said it when assessing the stock risk. Low fighter pay, and the historic inability of fighters to do anything at all about that, is a key reason why it’s seen as a sound investment.

The most likely scenario for Endeavor shareholders to make money off their investment then is to continue paying fighters poorly. Maybe even pay them worse, if you can manage that. Fill the roster with Contender Series guys making ten and ten, while continuing to rake in that guaranteed TV rights money. So it stands to reason that if you’re seeing big returns on your Endeavor investment, you are not improving the lives of UFC fighters.

Those NFTs, on the other hand? The UFC made a big deal about giving half of its share of the revenue from those to the fighters featured in them. Some back-of-the-envelope math from Aaron Bronsteter suggested that the average payout from this first batch was about $18,000 per fighter, with some maybe making as much as $36,000. That’s not life-changing money or anything, but it’s not nothing either. Plus, it’s not like the fighters had to do anything extra to get it.

In that sense, buying a UFC NFT definitely does more to materially improve the lives of UFC fighters. Also though, and we cannot stress this enough, it is not a good financial investment in the sense of your own bank account. It’s also pretty fucking dorky, honestly. You go around telling people that you own some UFC NFTs and you will have definitely painted yourself as a certain kind of nerd.

But maybe you’re at peace with that at this point in your life. Maybe you’re even proud of it. If you are, cool, we’ll even listen to you talk about which UFC “moments” you got in your pack. Then we’ll go save the GIFs of those same moments to our phones for free just so we can taunt you with it down at Buffalo Wild Wings, ya fucking goof.

Hey, if you made it this far and didn’t hate it, you should consider signing up for the Co-Main Event Patreon. There you can comment on these posts, argue with other people about them, even call us names or whatever. You also help support the CME and keep the discourse free and unfuckingfettered.

Further reading

Support the CME

With a helping hand from you, the discourse is free and the corporate fat cats are kept away from the door. We love you for that.

Patrons get exclusive access to:

Livestream events

Audio extras

CME Power Hour

CME Movie Club

Drape those old bones in some CME merchandise …

Show those around you that you’re a not-to-be-messed-with, third-dan Dundasso master, or perhaps that you have a very refined taste in tobacco products that are definitely not for kids. Straight up repping your fav MMA-themed podcast is also an option.

Shop merch

Read a book, if you nasty

“Two deadly acts of arson, over a decade apart bind this mystery of an army veteran’s return home. In Chad Dundas’ assured hands, one man’s search for answers makes for a lyrical, riveting meditation on memory.”
Entertainment Weekly, on The Blaze

Shop books

Email the Podcast