April 1, 2020

How much do UFC Fighters Make?

UFC is a mixed martial art promoting company. It has become one of the highest-grossing sports in the world.  Year after year, the income of UFC fighters is also increasing. Depending on the experiences and popularity, every fighter has a different earning graph. 

If you calculate the average earnings based on fights and sponsorship, an average UFC fighter earns anywhere about $138000 a year. Nobody could give the exact earnings data of UFC fighters.

These earnings figures are for an average fighter. Fighters like McGregor make more than a million-dollar per fight. His highest-earning was $75 million for the famous fight with Floyd Mayweather. Yes, there are fighters who make millions per fight and every fighter can make it to that level. A bit of patience and lots of hard work is what a fighter needs to succeed. 

Yes, earning depends on a fighter’s fighting records, the style they use and their marketability. But the most important factor that decides how much a fighter earns is the organization they are with. The earnings can be as low as $1k or as high as $3 million.

The reason UFC can pay a good salary and bonuses is the TV advertisement. Advertising is the primary source of income for most sports. Though UFC fighters can still make money outside UFC, a fighter can make money competing in other events such as Bellator and One championships. However, the payment is low compared to the UFC. 

ufc fight

The Highest Earning Fighters

Sometimes a good punch on the face won’t pay you well. There are fighters who live below the line of average income. The income of an average citizen in the US is $45000 per year. Some fighters don’t even have an average income. 

As UFC keeps gaining popularity, the income of each fighter is also increasing every year. As per the report, there is a potential increase in 2019 compared to 2018. 2019 was an earning year for most fighters. Approximately 214 fighters make 6 figure income in 2019.  

The salaries and earnings will keep improving in the coming year as per predictions. UFC is one of the hottest topics on the internet and TV right now.  A lot of viewers from the third world are also showing interest in the game. China and India have some of the highest viewers on YouTube. 

Most of the fighters also make money by pay-per-view. Mr. Alistair Overeem is the highest-earning non-UFC champion in 2019. He makes around $1730000 in 2019, which is quite impressive.  

Here are the UFC fighters with highest earnings in 2019. 

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov –  is a Russian professional MMA artist. He makes around $6090000 a year. He holds the undefeated title in MMA with 28 wins and no losses. 

2. Alistair Overeem – He is a Dutch MMA and kickboxer. He holds the world title in both MMA and K-1 kickboxing at the same time. He made around $1730000 in 2019.

3. Donald Cerrone – Donald is also a professional American MMA artist and kickboxer. He makes around $1300000. 

4. Anderson Silva – A very talented Brazilian-American fighter. He earned around $1290000.

5. Max Holloway – An American mixed martial artist holding 11th rank in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound ranking. And no.1 rank in the UFC featherweight made around $1220000 in 2019. 

6. Israel Adesanya – He is a Nigerian-New Zealand fighter. He makes around $1098000 a year.

7. Amanda Nunes – She is one of the highest-earning women UFC fighters.  She makes around $1080000 in 2019.

8. Jon Jones – He is one of the greatest mixed martial artists. He makes around $1080000. 

9. Jorge Masvidal – Jorge is a talented fighter. He has the records for the fastest knockout in UFC history. Looking at his performance most viewers predict him to be in the top 3 list in 2020. His earnings were around $1032000 in 2019.

10. Kamaru Usman – Usman is a Nigerian born mixed martial artist. He is a 21 times ultimate fighter tournament winner and one of the fasting rising stars of UFC. He earned around $970000 in 2019. 

The earnings mentioned above are only the reported salaries of each fighter. Most top fighters get extra bonuses and get a cut of pay-per-view which is not disclosed. 

The earning of these 10 fighters given above is the combination of the bonuses they get for Fight of the Night, Performance of the Night and bonuses given by Reebok as fight week incentive. 

How much a fighter earns depends on the number of fights and lots of other factors. The fighter might be earning more than the figure mentioned above. Nobody knows the exact number an UFC fighter makes except the organizer and the fighters themselves. 

The amount of each fighter might increase or decrease each year depending on how much they fight and win the game. Also, check where do boxers stand in terms of earnings.

How do UFC Fighters Get Paid 

There are 3 primary income sources for UFC fighters. Though the fighter might still make some money outside of UFC, the fights are the primary source of income. There are over 20 MMA promoting organizations in the world, but UFC is the most popular organization. 

Compared to any other MMA promoting organizations in the world, UFC has the highest paying record. And fighters like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey are making a fortune out of it. 

1. Base Salary 

Each fighter fights under the contract of a fixed base salary. The salary varies from fighter to fighter and it keeps fluctuating. The salary also changes as per the fight. On the contract paper, a fighter will find all the details on the number of fights, salary structure, insurance, and other other information. 

The ranking and placement also play a huge role in salary fluctuation. A fighter who keeps ranking higher and keeps his name in the headline will have a more base salary compared to others. 

Beginner fighters will have to work harder and win more fights to increase their base salary. The more a fighter degrades his rank, the lower will be his base salary. The best thing about UFC is, the more you train yourself and get better, the more you earn. 

2. Bonuses 

The bonus award is what makes all the fighters give their best shot. There are 2 types of bonuses awarded to 4 fighters in every UFC event.

  • Fight of the Night – The fight of the night is an award given to those fighters who give the best fight. Fighters should show sportsmanship, follow the rules and his/her fight should make the audience ‘Wow’. 

Usually, there is only 1 fight of the night title but if more fighters are able to impress the organizers, there could be two fights of the night title. The fight of the night award bonuses could be anywhere around $50000 to $80000. 

  • Performance of the Night – The title, performance of the night takes into consideration all the fights of a fighter on one night. Analyzing all the fights of all the fighters the organizer will choose the best performer of the night.  

Like the fight of the night, the performance of the night is also awarded a bonus, anywhere around $50000 to $80000.

Until 2014 there used to be two more bonus awards of the night. But UFC removed those two awards. 

  • Submission of the Night – If a fighter gives the best submission chock. He gets the submission of the night award and a bonus as cash price. 
  • Knockout of the Night – The best knockout takes the title and cash price. 

If a fighter gives the best fight and performance, he can take both the titles. It depends on how well the player plays the game. This is an added advantage to UFC fighters. 

3. Sponsorships 

Sponsorship is also a good source of income for UFC fighters. But to get sponsorship the fighter should be persistent and should keep on fighting. As the sport gets popular each year lots of sponsors are coming in to promote their products. 

In 2020 you don’t have to be Conor McGregor to get a sponsorship. Anybody with a good record can get sponsorship. Companies pay the fighters to wear or use their product inside the ring. Every second counts. The sponsors pay for every second inside the ring regardless of whether the fighter wins or loses the game. 

But sometimes fighters are not allowed to get sponsorship by other companies if UFC has already been sponsored by giant companies. Sometimes giant companies like Reebok and Adidas buy all the sponsorships. In this case, all the fighters would have to use Reebok apparel. 

In such a case, Reebok would give sponsorship fee to each fighter that showed up for a fight, but the amounts are less compared to individual sponsorship. 

Conclusion

Here is everything you need to know about UFC fighter’s income. Apart from UFC, a fighter can also make money from lots of other different places. 

Apart from UFC, MMA fighters can also fight in other promotions like Bellator, One Championship and Cage Warriors & BAMMA to make money.  

Sometimes UFC income is not enough to make a living for MMA fighters. Fighters also need to pay their bills, need daily expenses, they need training and a good diet to maintain and workout. It’s an expensive world.    

UFC is growing like a wildfire. The internet is playing a huge role in promoting the game. There are over a million hours of UFC fights videos on Youtube. As the sport keeps evolving the income of the UFC fighter will also keep increasing. 

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

View all posts by Eugene Hardy →

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