How Much Do UFC Refs Make? UFC Referee Salary

boxing match

Referees are a vital part of many sports and in the UFC, it’s no different. They help to keep the flow of the match, prevent any foul play, and help to protect fighters by ending fights when they can no longer defend themselves.

Of course, some refs do it better than others. Due to this, it’s no surprise that some referees get paid more than others but exactly how much do UFC refs make? Here we’ll have a breakdown of what they receive, along with the factors that affect it. Let’s get started!

How Much Do UFC Refs Make?

UFC referees can earn anywhere from $250 to $10,000 per fight. This is a huge range, and generally, we can break this down further into three categories:

  • Beginners
  • Professionals
  • Females

Beginners, whether male or female, are paid between $250 to $650 for one match. The exact UFC refs salary will naturally depend on how many bouts they officiate, but this generally works out to be an annual salary of $15,000 to $30,000.

As their reputation and skills grow, they are able to ref high level events in which they can earn a minimum of $2,500, to a maximum of $10,000 for one event.

Professional referees earn more not only from the matches but also from yearly contracts, which give them a base salary. Bonuses are another form of revenue that most referees get from high level matches.

Apart from experience, there are other factors as well that dictate a UFC refs income, which are:

  • Experience of the referee
  • Location of the event
  • Type of event
  • Gender

When starting out, UFC refs need to prove they are good at their jobs, are able to make quick and accurate decisions, and are brave enough to rush in and break the fighters apart.

Once they prove they have developed the necessary skills and experience, they are offered high level matches such as preliminary or main card fights.

Fights that are refereed improperly will result in criticism, calling into question the referee’s judgment, and a detrimental impact on the referee’s career. There have been many cases where referees have made big mistakes in huge fights. Those that can prove they get it right almost all of the time will undoubtedly receive higher salaries.

What Is the UFC Refs Salary Structure?

A referee’s salary structure is as low as $250 for some matches and as high as $10,000 for others. Let’s break down the structure for the various referees and then see the average UFC refs salary.  

Beginners – Beginners are rarely awarded contracts, and their earnings range from $250 to $650 per match. Their annual UFC refs salary ranges between $15,000 and $30,000.

Females – Female referees earn the same amount when they are beginners, but once they reach the professional level, they fall into the female referee category. They also earn less compared to male referees.

This is generally around $1,000 per match at the top level, but this can jump to $2,000 to $3,500 per PPV event. Overall, when it comes to how much does a UFC ref earn in a year, females get approximately 40% less than male referees.

Professionals – They are people who have years of experience. They are usually retired MMA fighters and are well-versed in the laws and regulations. Professional referees are handpicked by organizations and offered a base salary, which could be a one-year contract or as long as a five-year contract.

They receive a payment of $2,500 per match, and for high-profile fights such as pay-per-view, they can earn $5,000 to $10,000, excluding bonuses. Their yearly wages range from $25,000 to $500,000.

Current 10 Highest-Paid UFC Refs

Most referees don’t get a fixed monthly salary; they get paid per fight. However, the most reputable referees get a base salary or an annual contract apart from the earnings they receive from matches. Here is a list of the current highest-paid UFC referees.

1. Herb Dean

For a long time Herb Dean has been one of the best refs in the sport, so it’s no surprise to see him in the number one spot.

He is a professional fighter who turned referee and is undoubtedly the highest-paid UFC referee, earning $2,500 per fight and $15,00 to $25,000 per PPV bonus match. Herb’s annual contract is approximately $500,000.

Some of the biggest fights in UFC history have been reffed by Dean. This is partly due to his clarity in the ring where he is able to make calm and rational decisions.

Herb Dean not only has the highest annual contract but also earns more in PPV matches compared to the rest of the top referees.

2. Jason Herzog

Jason Herzon is another well-known referee, and has officiated over 700 fights, giving him an incredible wealth of experience. Those 700 fights haven’t all been in the UFC, as he has worked under Bellator and Invicta FC.

Overall, this has led him to an annual salary of a little under $400,000, and he’s in the highest bracket when it comes to payments per fight. As with all top referees, he is known for being fair and accurate with his decisions. This has led him to be respected by fighters and fans alike.

3. Mark Smith

Mark Smith had an interesting route to the UFC as he used to be a retired fighter pilot. Clearly, he wasn’t looking for a peaceful retirement as he decided to officiate on one of the most brutal sports in the world!

As with Herzog, he gets paid around $380,000 per year and is also in the highest payment bracket of $2,500 for regular bouts and up to $10,000 for PPVs. His training as a fighter pilot allows him to stay calm in the octagon and make the right calls under pressure.

4. Chris Tognoni

Tognomi has been a high-quality ref for over 10 years now and has gained a huge amount of respect. When it comes to how much does a UFC ref earn a year, he is on par with Smith and Herzog, and only a little behind Dean.

Still, his base salary of $380,000 shows how much the organization values his skills as an official. He has come under criticism in the past but is still actively working and, a few bad nights aside, has proved himself to be a brilliant referee.

5. Keith Peterson

Many fans love Peterson for his no-nonsense style and he’s also one of the most vocal refs in the octagon. You’ll often hear him calling out warnings to fighters about their position or illegal strikes.

Importantly, he’s also known for his rapid responses and being able to protect fighters from any unnecessary punishment, while not ending bouts too early. All of that leads to a contract worth $380,000.

6. Marc Goddard

Marc Goddard is a highly respected UFC referee and is the only UK referee on the list. One of the reasons that he is so well respected, and highly paid, is just how long he has been in the sport.

Whether as a fighter or a ref, he has been working in MMA for well over 20 years. His annual salary is $300,000, and he’s still used for some of UFC’s biggest fight nights.

7. Dan Miragliotta

Another respected referee with an annual contract of $300,000 is Dan Miragliotta. Dan Miragliotta is a well-respected and highly experienced referee.

He earned his reputation in the ring due to his ability to control the fight and the fighters, when necessary, effortlessly learning the rules and regulations, and maintaining an authoritative presence in the ring to ensure the fight goes fair and square.

8. Kerry Hatley

There is no substitute for experience, and Kerry Hatley has that in abundance. Name an MMA company, and Hatley has probably worked for them. These days, he’s found a home in the UFC and is still very active as an elite referee.

He gets paid per fight at the highest levels of pay, and with over 40 fights officiated in 2022, he’s able to earn a great living from the UFC.

9. Mike Beltran

There is perhaps not a more distinctive referee in the world than Mike Beltran. He is known for his epic mustache, but his skill goes far beyond the ability to grow facial hair!

He’s another with an incredible amount of experience with many different MMA promotions. His pay is similar to that of Kerry Hatley in that his base salary is unknown, but he is likely to receive well over $100,000 per year.

10. Leon Roberts

Finally, we have Leon Roberts. If there is one common theme with every referee on this list, it’s experience. With over 1,000 bouts to his name, if a fighter steps into the same octagon as Roberts, they know they are in a safe pair of hands.

His pay works in the same way as Hatley and Beltran, with him being paid a handsome amount per fight. With a perfect understanding of the intricacies of the sport and the rules, he deserves every cent.

How Much Do UFC Refs Make – FAQs

How much does a UFC ref make per fight?

Amateur referees earn up to $250 to $650 per match. Professional female referees get $1,000 per match and $2,000 to $3,500 per PPV event. Professional male referees earn the most. They make between $2,500 and $5,000 for the most high-profile matches.

However, some have annual salaries of up to $500,000. If you’re wondering about the average salary of UFC refs, then it’s almost impossible to calculate, as most get paid on a per-fight basis.

Do UFC refs have bonuses?

While they may receive the likes of sponsorship bonuses, UFC referees don’t receive a bonus for their performance during fights. While fighters can often get bonuses for the likes of “Fight of the Night,” referees will get their standard fee.

How much do UFC judges make?

There is no fixed salary for a UFC judge and they earn less than referees. Depending on several factors, mostly how much revenue is generated from a fight, they may earn somewhere between $300 to $550 per match.

Do UFC refs pay better than fighters?

The best referees may get paid more for high-profile fights than a UFC novice gets paid for their first fights. However, at the elite level, UFC fighters get paid much more than referees.

How much do MMA refs make?

It depends on the organization and figures can vary widely. Most will earn between $500 to $2,500, but this may be less for smaller organizations. UFC is the elite level of the sport, which is why their referees can earn up to $10,000 per fight.

How much does Herb Dean make?

Herb Dean is the highest-paid professional referee. It is estimated that his annual revenue from officiating is around $500,000.

What is the UFC translator’s salary?

This will depend on factors such as the size of the event and their experience. However, translators are often paid approximately $300 to $500 per event. Any expenses they have are usually covered by the UFC.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, now we’ve answered your question on how much do UFC refs get paid. While obviously not on the level of UFC fighters, becoming a UFC referee can have a great career. As we’ve seen here, many refs earn over $100,000 per year. But to get to that level, they need to have plenty of experience and a history of making the right calls at the right time.

Share This Post
Kenny Jarvis
Kenny Jarvis
I have been practicing and studying boxing since I was a teenager. I am passionate about the sport, along with many other martial arts. While my fighting days may be over, I love channeling my passion into my writing to provide insightful blogs.