How Much Money Does an MMA Fighter Make?
If you check the mixed martial arts fighters earnings statistics for, say, 2020, you will find the average number of around $ 148,000 annually. The highest paid athletes have much more impressive numbers of millions of dollars. This article will reveal the difference between amateur, professional and top martial artists and find out what impacts the amounts they have each year. We’ll look at UFC fighters as the highest paid and famous, but we’ll also look at other leagues, popular among fans and sports bettors, according to World BookMakers 2021.
How are UFC fighters paid?
Unlike many other sports, a guaranteed contract is not a typical UFC thing. There is also no monthly or weekly salary: a fighter is paid for a performance and the total amount of the payment depends on how the fight is played. If an athlete is well-known enough to generate interest in their social media and personal brand in general, they can also win partnerships with large commercial companies. Let’s see in detail how each method works.
Fight base salary
Every successful fighter earns a base salary – a set amount the UFC pays them if they gain weight and fight. There are no specific prices: each fighter signs a personal contract and can claim any amount, so it’s a matter of agreement. Certainly, the better and famous a fighter, the more he can negotiate a higher salary.
The base salary can be made up of two parts: the actual base salary and the earning bonus in the event of success. However, this winning bonus is usually applied to fighters whose base salary does not exceed a certain level. For example, a fighter can get $ 20,000 as base salary and the other $ 20,000 to win a fight. However, if a base salary is around $ 300,000 per fight, that does not usually imply having a win bonus.
UFC Night Bonus
Four fighters in one night are eligible for two performance bonuses (not to be confused with a victory bonus). Nominations for the awards are Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night. Fight of the Night is a prize of $ 50,000 for two fighters who managed to lead the most exciting fight. The performance of the night is also $ 50,000. UFC Brass decides who is eligible for bonuses. It is possible that a person will receive both rewards and $ 100,000.
Backroom bonuses are the extra rewards that the UFC doesn’t bring anywhere; the amounts do not appear in the contracts and remain unknown to the public. According to some rumors and speculations, the payments start from $ 10,000 and are sent to MMA fighters within a week or two after a fight.
PPV points bonus
The top fighters who have a huge fan base and can provide the UFC with a high-profile fight earn pay-per-view points. The most important fight events are shown only on paid platforms, so the more viewers pay to watch a fight, the more bonus a fighter gets from that PPV event. There are 12 paid events at the UFC each year, and the broadcast fee is approximately $ 65 to $ 70. A fighter earns a certain percentage of PPV money or a fixed amount per view. For example, several years ago, details of Eddi Alvarez’s contract appeared on the Internet; according to them, the UFC paid Alvarez $ 1 for PPV purchases of 0-300,000, $ 1.50 for PPV purchases of 300,000-750,000, and $ 2 for purchases over 750,000. One Alvarez’s most watched fights has been against McGregor, and he’s won 1,300,000 PPV buys so you can imagine his PPV bonus in this case.
Information on contracts is usually not published, but experts believe the numbers are roughly similar.
If a UFC fighter fails to gain weight or appear on the Octagon, he may also be fined – the amounts charged are also determined in the contract. Additionally, additional fines may be applied to MMA fighters for misconduct during a fight. For example, Khabib Nurmagomedov has already been fined $ 500,000 for a public brawl with his opponent McGregor.
For the past six years, UFc has had Reebok as the exclusive sponsor of its clothing. This means that every UFC fighter must wear Reebok clothing during their fights, and Reebok rewards them with sponsorship pay. The numbers were transparent: a fighter with one to five fights wins $ 2,500 per fight, if a fighter appears in five to ten fights, he wins $ 5,000 for each, eleven-fifteen fights bring $ 10,000 for each, sixteen to twenty fights cost $ 15,000 per fight, and more than 21 fights bring a fighter $ 20,000 per fight. If a UFC member fights for their title, they win $ 30,000 Reebok sponsorship, and if they win a league title, the total payout is $ 40,000.
In April 2021, the Reebok sponsorship ended and the new partnership with Veenum began. Reebok will now be a shoe sponsor for UFC fighters, and details of their new sponsorship are yet to be revealed. However, it is already clear that Veenum clothing sponsorship is more profitable for fighters: they will pay. $ 42,000 to champions and $ 32,000 for the title challengers. Fighters with sixteen or more fights will have a $ 1,000 increase, and the others will have a supplement $ 500 for every fight.
While the UFC fighters may not have any approval deals inside the ring due to the exclusive clothing and footwear contracts the UFC signs with Reebok and Veenum, they are quite free in this matter. which concerns the agreements they have outside the Octagon. Approval deals are private between a company and a fighter and have nothing to do with the UFC; the actual numbers are hidden from the general public, but it is always possible to reveal them: for example, Connor McGregor takes $ 125,000 for an advertising message on his Instagram. Approval deals don’t depend on the fighter’s success and the number of fights they perform – sometimes the average fighter can be a popular media personality. For example, Page VanZant confessed that she only earned $ 46,000 per fight and a victory bonus of the same amount, while his Instagram with nearly 3,000,000 subscribers brings in much more revenue.
How Much Are Average UFC Fighters Paid?
Although the average UFC fighter’s salary is usually over $ 100,000, the actual earnings of UFC fighters are significantly lower. When someone counts average salary information, they are factoring in all salary scales, including the earnings of fighters who earn millions of dollars. This makes the median rate higher, when in fact there is a pretty huge pay gap between the best and the average fighters.
According to the MMA Manifesto, the lowest salary in the UFC can be around $ 9,500 for a fight. Cole Williams, the lowest paid fighter of the 2020 season, won that amount in a fight against Jason Witt. So, if we don’t know the most notable and highest paid athletes in the stats, we’ll see an average of around $ 50,000. In the table below, you can see the annual earnings of UFC MMA fighters; charts are based on the latest information from 2020.
The table does not take into account secondary revenues such as approval agreements and includes expenses. To get more realistic numbers, you need to deduct mandatory investments like training camps, trainer salaries, and travel costs.
Top 10 Highest Paid UFC Fighters
If you compare the average salary we mentioned in the previous paragraph to the earnings of the highest income, the pay gap becomes more obvious. The payout is stated for one year, and it does not include advertising contracts and additional hidden bonuses.
- Khabib Nurmagomedov – $ 6,090,000
- Conor McGregor – $ 3,060,000
- Junior dos Santos – 1,560,000 USD
- Israel Adesanya – 1,230,000 USD
- Justin Gaethje – $ 920,000
- José Aldo – $ 900,000
- Deiveson Figueiredo – $ 875,000
- Anthony Pettis – $ 855,000
- Alistair Overeem – $ 830,000
- Stipe Miocic – $ 790,000
How Much Money Do MMA Fighters Make Outside of the UFC?
The UFC is the oldest, most famous and richest MMA league; being in the UFC is considered a career high for a fighter. However, there are still other MMA organizations, so if we talk about MMA fighters in general, we can also mention leagues as important as Bellator and ONE FC.
The Bellator 228 earnings list is currently published, so it is possible to get an idea of a base salary offered to Bellator fighters. Their main card includes the following prices:
You can see the full list of Bellator 228 salaries below. As always, these numbers don’t represent a fighter’s total income, as some sponsorship income, discretionary bonuses, and pay-per-view income are not publicly disclosed.
- Gegard Mousasi: $ 150,000 as a base salary; no win bonus
- Patricio Freire: $ 200,000 as a base salary; no win bonus
- Juan Archuleta: $ 75,000
- Daniel Weichel: $ 40,000 and $ 40,000 earn a bonus
Figures include base salary only; top Bellator fighters can enter into meaningful sponsorship and sponsorship deals. Unlike UFC fighters who are not allowed to have sponsors in the ring besides Reebok and Veenum, Bellator does not limit side contracts.
If we refer to the earnings of Asian fighters who are signed with ONE FC, we will find that the income details are much more closed than American athletes. There is inside information from several fighters; for example, Ben Askren announced that he had $ 50,000 per night and the amount corresponds to a win bonus. There is also a ONE Warrior bonus of $ 50,000, which is given to the most awesome fighter who shows excessive skill, warrior spirit, and thrilling action. Victor Cui, the CEO of ONE FC, has announced that several MMA fighters at the club may be eligible to claim the bonus. However, if no one manages to impress Victor enough, the prize will go unclaimed.