How much do UFC fighters get paid? I’m sure it’s a question many of us have wondered when we’ve watched these brave warriors in action. The answer can vary due to a wide variety of factors and we’re going to look at them all here.
We’ll check out how much do UFC fighters make, how the money they receive gets broken down and many other key questions such as how much they get from sponsorships.
Table of Contents
- How Much Do UFC Fighters Get Paid?
- Do UFC Fighters Have Bonuses?
- Can UFC Fighters Get Paid from Sponsorships?
- Top 50 Highest-Paid UFC Fighters
- What Is the UFC Salary Structure?
- How Much Money Do MMA Fighters Outside of The UFC Make?
- Final Thoughts
How Much Do UFC Fighters Get Paid?
The average salary of UFC fighters in 2022 was a little over $150,000 but there are many factors that go into that figure. Not only that, but one UFC fighter’s income can be drastically different from another.
The minimum base salary payment for a UFC fight is $12,000, whereas the maximum is $5 million. In the same organization, you can have one fighter struggling financially and another being a multi-millionaire.
So while the average UFC salary is around $150,000, you need to consider those that earn a lot more and a lot less when thinking about how much does a UFC fighter earn a year. Added to this is the fact that fighters can receive income from the UFC in four different ways. Let’s check out all the components of a UFC fighter salary.
Base Salary – The most obvious form of UFC fighter income is base salary. Each fighter will sign a contract before a fight and can be tied into long-term deals. Exactly how much they will be paid can depend on many factors.
For example, they may give a fighter a contract that will pay them $250,000 per fight for five fights. Such a contract is likely to have many clauses which can include the UFC being able to cut the fighter, increases for championship wins, or a time limit.
The UFC is known to have a lot of control over these contracts, which is in large part due to them being able to pay fighters much more than any other organization. As a fighter increases their reputation, they can have better negotiation power for more lucrative deals.
Performance Rewards – We talk about this in more detail below but there can also be performance awards for the likes of “Fight of the Nights.” These are awarded on the night of a UFC event and can be significant for lower-level fighters but not for elite fighters.
PPV Sales – This is perhaps the biggest grey area when it comes to UFC contracts. Of course, not all UFC cards are PPV events, so this only applies to the biggest of fights and lower-level fighters won’t get PPV money.
The headliners of a PPV bout will usually both receive a share of the take. An example is fighters getting $1 from every sale between 200k and 400k of sales, then $2 for every sale between 400k and 600k, and ten $2.5 for every PPV sale above that.
However, these figures aren’t released to the public so getting exact figures is difficult. It’s also been the case that not all fighters will get the same split of the TV money. A superstar such as Conor McGregor, for example, can negotiable a more lucrative split.
Sponsorship Share – Again, we mention this in more detail below, but the fighters aren’t allowed to have their own sponsorships on show during fights. All their fighting gear must be from the UFC’s approved apparel brand, which was firstly Reebok but is now Venum.
Instead, the UFC will pay them a share of the sponsorship money depending on how many fights they’ve had in the organization. This is almost insignificant for the highest-profile fighters as, for example, a fighter with over 20 UFC fights will receive $21,000 per fight.
Do UFC Fighters Have Bonuses?
Yes, bonuses can be an important part of a UFC fighter’s earnings, especially for those on the lower levels of the pay bracket. There have been four bonus awards that have been given to UFC fighters during its history, but two of those are now discontinued.
Fight of the Night – For the most exciting fight on the card, both of the fighters involved will receive payment for this bonus.
Knockout of the Night – For the best KO, this was no longer awarded after 2014.
Submission of the Night – As with the KO of the night, this was discontinued in 2014.
Performance of the Night – Instead of Knockout and Submission of the Night, the UFC will reward two fighters for the performance of the night. This can be given to the fighters who have delivered a devastating KO, an exciting performance, or for any other reason.
The UFC used to pay varying amounts for these bonuses but for a long time now, it has been static at $50,000. On most cards, that means there is $200,000 in total rewards with $50,000 for each fighter in Fight of the Night and two fighters picked for Performance of the Night.
But they don’t always strictly stick to that. There have been many instances where the UFC management hasn’t awarded anyone Fight of the Night but has instead had four or more fighters awarded Performance of the Night.
There are also times the UFC has been extra generous, with UFC 282 being the best example. Here the Fight of the Night was awarded but the management also gave a Performance of the Night bonus to every fighter who had an early stoppage, which was nine in total.
Can UFC Fighters Get Paid from Sponsorships?
Yes, they can, and many of them do. However, the most lucrative deals are reserved for the biggest names in the sport. The likes of Conor McGregor have enjoyed many sponsorships over the years from the likes of EA Sports, Burger King, Tiger. Trade and Beats by Dre. These reportedly earn him over $16 million per year.
Most of the top fighters have sponsorship deals but they are usually worth hundreds of thousands, rather than the millions McGregor gets. But the question gets more interesting when we look into the sponsorship of fight gear.
In 2014, the UFC signed a controversial exclusivity deal with Reebok for all official apparel. This meant that the fighters were no longer to have their own sponsorships, and instead needed to use official UFC/Reebok gear.
That deal ended in 2021 and they were replaced with Venum. As with the Reebok deal, the fighter will get paid a share of this sponsorship money depending on how many fights they’ve had in the UFC.
For example, a fighter in their first UFC fight will get $4,000 in sponsorship money. A fighter with over 20 fights will get $21,000 and that increase to $42,000 if they become a champion. While that may seem like a good deal, it’s most likely a lot less than fighters could get if they were able to negotiate directly with sponsors.
Top 50 Highest-Paid UFC Fighters
Now we have a better idea of what UFC fighters get paid, who are the highest paid UFC fighters of all time? Here we’ve made a top 50 least going from the lowest earner to the highest. It’s important to note that these figures are for just the base salary earned from UFC fights.
It’s interesting how his list compares to our list of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, as it’s very different. Conor McGregor is a great fighter, but no one sees him as the greatest ever, but he’s by far the number one when it comes to money.
Michael Bisping is the same, to a smaller extent. He is not seen as the greatest fighter ever but fans loved his personality which led him to get paid a lot for his fights. Similar can be said for the likes of Brock Lesnar, Mark Hunt, and Donald Cerrone.
However, there are plenty of fighters in the top 15 who could be in the conversation for the greatest ever such as Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Daniel Cormier, Jose Also, and Stipe Miocic. They are all amazing fighters who have been paid handsomely.
There are only two women on the list, and both of them are fairly obvious. Amanda Nunes is the best women’s fighter of all time and has been dominant in two divisions. Ronda Rousey had huge public appeal so it’s no surprise to see her on the list, despite leaving the UFC for the WWE.
The person most hard done by could well be Demetrious Johnson. Many view him as one of the best ever but he’s way down in 41st on the list. He was controversially traded the One Championship in 2018 but will still go down in the UFC Hall of Fame.
What Is the UFC Salary Structure?
There isn’t a salary structure, as such. The pay that a fighter will receive depends on the contract offer from the UFC and their negotiating power. All different fighters get paid different amounts depending on a wide variety of factors.
We’ll mention this fight a few times, but the best example of a lack of salary structure is the second fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Going into their second fight, Poirier had lost just two of his previous 13 fights.
Meanwhile, it was only McGregor’s third fight in four and a half years, with him losing one of those to Khabib Nurmagomedov. On their record and activity, you’d say that both fighters deserved an equal payment.
But MMA doesn’t work like that. McGregor was a much bigger draw due to his incredible popularity. This meant he was able to secure a large share of the PPV sales and a higher base salary. All of this meant that Poirier earned a little over $1 million for the fight, whereas McGregor walked away with over $25 million, even though Poirier won.
While there is no set structure in place, generally the more you fight in the organization, the more you make. Fighters are given a contract for a set number of fights and will be paid a pre-agreed sum for those matchups.
When a fighter reaches a certain level of reputation, they can have more control over the contracts they sign and the clauses they put in them. Fighters being paid more for their reputation may be seen as unfair, but they are the ones that draw the most attention to the sport.
How Much Money Do MMA Fighters Outside of The UFC Make?
Not much in comparison. There is a lot of talk that UFC fighters are underpaid compared to their value to the organization. But the reality is that the UFC is still by far the highest payer when compared to its rivals.
The second biggest MMA organization is Bellator, but they are way behind in terms of how much they can pay their fighters. In Bellator, the maximum amount that a fighter gets paid is $300,000 which is drastically lower than the maximum you can get of $5 million in the UFC.
The best Bellator fighters get paid around the same as a mid-level UFC fighter. Bellator also rarely runs PPVs, so their fighters can’t benefit from that either. However, there is one way that other MMA fighters can get paid more than the UFC.
As we’ve mentioned, UFC fighters aren’t allowed to have their own sponsorships as they are bound by the UFC’s exclusive apparel deal. Other organizations don’t have the same agreement and therefore fighters can arrange their own deals. However, this won’t be anywhere near enough to bridge the gap in payment.
As you can imagine, if Bellator is the second largest organization then the pay from all other organizations will be even worse. For example, those in the One Championship can earn a maximum of $200,000 per fight.
This is the reason that the UFC can have such control over their fighters and also the matchups they make. Ultimately, their fighters know that they aren’t going to get the same level of money anywhere else.
Who is the highest-paid UFC fighter?
The honor of being the highest paid UFC fighter goes to Conor McGregor. He has used his huge popularity to amass earnings of over $25 million in base salary from the UFC. However, his career earnings will be much more than that.
For example, he is estimated to have received over $20 million alone from his share of the PPV buys for his UFC 264 fight vs Dustin Poirier. Then you can add the sponsorships and bonuses he’ll make on top of that.
Who is the richest UFC fighter?
Yes, it’s Conor McGregor again. Of course the highest paid UFC fighter may not be the richest overall as they may have amassed their wealth elsewhere. McGregor wins on both counts but interestingly, his most lucrative fight wasn’t even in the UFC.
In 2017 he faced off against the legendary Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. Including gate receipts and PPV share, it’s thought that he walked away with over $100 million. That alone would make him the richest UFC fighter ever.
How much do amateur UFC fighters make?
There is no such thing as an amateur UFC fighter. Everyone who signs up for the UFC gets paid, which makes them professional. Although, you may be wondering how much does a lower level UFC fighter get paid?
The lowest a UFC fighter can get paid is $12,000. These are the fighters just starting out who are on the bottom of the lower profile cards. As they progress, they will quickly start to earn more money.
How much do UFC fighters get paid if they lose?
When a fighter signs up for a fight, they will have a base salary. On top of this, there may be a bonus for whoever wins the fight. You can also get performance bonuses for the likes of Performance of the Fight. The highest profile fighters can get a share of the PPV sales.
If they lose, they will at the very least get their base salary. This will have been pre-agreed and they’ll get it regardless of their performance. This can be as little as $12,000 or as much as $5 million. The bottom line is, no-one walks away with nothing.
How much does a UFC fighter make per fight?
The amount that a UFC fighter makes per fight can vary wildly based on their reputation and performance. It is thought that the average earnings per fight is around $80k but that figure can be skewed by the very top earners. The average UFC fighter salary is well above that, as most fight more than once per year.
The earnings per fight for an average UFC fighter is around $30k. That’s more than many earn in a year, but many will stay it’s not enough for such a brutal sport! Many fighters can only ever dream of getting those McGregor riches.
Does UFC fighter pay better than boxer?
Yes, and no. As you’ll know, the UFC is an organization and boxing is a sport. It is thought that the average boxer earns around $50k per year, and as you can see from our figures above, the average for the UFC is $80k.
But those figures for boxing include journeymen who are fighting in local sports halls for a few hundred dollars. UFC fighters are all professionals that have earned a contract with the organization, hence their minimum payment of $12,000.
If you were to ask, does a world class UFC fighter pay better than a world class boxer, then the answer would be a resounding no. Boxers get paid far more.
The highest payout in UFC history was for McGregor vs Poirer in their rematch when, including PPV, he reportedly earned around $25 million. The highest payout in boxing history was when Mayweather fought Pacquiao and secured over $250 million. You can see the huge difference.
Perhaps the best example is the fact that McGregor earned four times as much boxing Mayweather as he did in his most lucrative UFC fight. When it comes to the big fights, the UFC is still way behind boxing.
How much does Dustin Poirier get paid?
For most of his big fights, Dustin Poirier has earned in the region of $250-$350k. However, that took a massive jump when he has his rematches with McGregor. For their second fight, he earned $1m in base salary and took home $1,070,000 overall.
For the third fight, he received a base salary of $1.5 million and earned $5,151,000 overall as he had a share of the PPV buys. His recent fights haven’t been quite as lucrative but he’s still earned over $1 million per fight. It all adds up to career earnings of well over $10 million.
As you can see, there are many factors that go into how much a UFC fighter gets paid. On average, they’ll receive around $150,000 per year but that is a crude figure with some fighters earning much more, and some a lot less.
If you’re a superstar then you may earn over $25 million or one fight but if you’re just starting out, that could be just $12,000. Hopefully, now we’ve answered all your questions on how much do UFC fighter get paid!