The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is regarded as the top level in all of Mixed Martial Arts with the most elite and exciting martial artists. And as such we would expect that the UFC contracted fighters would also be the highest paid among all MMA athletes and combat sports fighters in general, apart from boxing of course. But how much do UFC fighters make?
The truth is that the gap between newly contracted fighters and the UFC’s biggest stars such as Macgrogor, Khabib. Cormier and Jon Jones is extremely significant. The gap is so significant that the higher end salaries of the UFC’s biggest starts heavily skew the average UFC fighters earnings upwards.
In 2017, on average, UFC fighters made $132K. While George St Pierre made $2.5 million, 41% of UFC fighters made less than the U.S household average income of $45K. Also, 25% of UFC fighters made less than $25K in 2017.
In 2018, 37% of UFC fighters made less than $45K USD, the average household income. The average income of all UFC fighters was $138,350 which was up from 2017 but the figure is still heavily skewed by the UFC’s top earners.
How Much Do UFC Fighters Make Per Fight?
There are four ways a UFC makes money per fight that is paid directyl by the UFC and which does not include “undisclosed PPV bonuses or others”:
- Base Salary
- Win Bonus
- Promotional Compliance Pay
- Special bonuses
The base salary is the amount a UFC fighter makes no matter what. This is usually described as “Amount to Show”.
In June of 2016 the low end contracted pay for UFC fighters transitioned from 8K to Show/8K to Win to 10K to Show/10K to Win.
From June 2016 the standard lower pay scale for a UFC fighter is 10K to Show and 10K to Win per fight.
For the higher end pay scale, the amount varies considerably dependent on the fighters record and ‘value’ in terms of attraction and PPV numbers.
This amount can vary considerably across different fighters. But as described above a standard amount for a newly contracted fighter is $10K to Win which matches their Base Salary amount.
Dependent on contract negotiations fighters may also not get anything for a Win. But often the Win Bonus equals their “Amount to Show” which is a huge incentive to go for the win.
At the time of writing of this article the latest UFC event with payout amounts released was UFC 241 : Cormier vs. Miocic 2 on August 17, 2019.
As UFC 241 was held in Anaheim, California, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) requires the UFC to disclose fighter pay for everyone fighting on the UFC 241 card.
- Stipe Miocic: $750,000 (no win bonus) def. Daniel Cormier: $500,000
- Nate Diaz $250,000 (no win bonus) def. Anthony Pettis: $155,000
- Paulo Costa $120,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus) def. Yoel Romero: $150,000
- Sodiq Yusuff $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus) def. Gabriel Benitez: $40,000
- Derek Brunson $190,000 (includes $95,000 win bonus) def. Ian Heinisch: $25,000
- Khama Worthy $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus) def. Devonte Smith: $23,000
- Cory Sandhagen $154,000 (includes $77,000 win bonus) def. Raphael Assuncao: $79,000
- Drakkar Klose $56,000 (includes $28,000 win bonus) def. Christos Giagos: $28,000
- Casey Kenney $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus) def. Manny Bermudez: $20,000
- Hannah Cifers $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus) def. Jodie Esquibel: $10,000
- Kyung Ho Kang $44,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus) def. Brandon Davis: $21,000
- Sabina Mazo $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus) def. Shana Dobson: $12,000
Probably the biggest draw card on the UFC roster right now is Conor Macgregor and the payouts disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for UFC 229, which is the last time Macgregor fought in the UFC was as follows:
- Khabib Nurmagomedov: $2 million (no win bonus) vs. Conor McGregor: $3 million (no win bonus)
- Tony Ferguson: $150,000 to show ($5,000 to win) vs Anthony Pettis: $145,000 to show ($145,000 to win)
- Ovince Saint Preux: $86,000 to show ($86,000 to win) vs. Dominick Reyes: $45,000 to show ($45,000 to win)
- Derrick Lewis: $135,000 to show ($135,000 to win) vs. Alexander Volkov: $75,000 to show ($75,000 to win)
- Michelle Waterson: $50,000 to show ($50,000 to win) vs. Felice Herrig: $40,000 to show ($40,000 to win)
- Sergio Pettis: $46,000 to show ($46,000 to win) vs. Jussier Silva: $43,000 to show ($43,000 to win)
- Vicente Luque: $38,000 to show ($38,000 to win) vs. Jalin Turner: $10,000 to show ($10,000 to win)
- Aspen Ladd: $12,000 to show ($12,000 to win) vs. Tonya Evinger: $30,000 to show ($30,000 to win)
- Scott Holtzman: $30,000 to show ($30,000 to win) vs. Alan Patrick: $30,000 to show ($30,000 to win)
- Lina Lansberg: $20,000 to show ($20,000 to win) vs. Yana Kunitskaya: $25,000 to show ($25,000 to win)
- Grey Maynard: $54,000 to show ($54,000 to win) vs. Nik Lentz: $50,000 to show ($50,000 to win)
- Ryan LaFlare: $33,000 to show ($33,000 to win) vs. Tony Martin: $28,000 to show ($28,000 to win)
One factor that contributes greatly to UFC fighter per fight salary is the event they are fighting on. Clearly fighting on the Prelim Card for a Conor Macgregor Main Event would earn you more than a Miocic or Cormier Main EVent as shown by the numbers above.
3.Promotional Compliance Pay
This is the amount UFC fighters make for behaving in line with UFC promotional guidelines and is the amount that is paid out under the UFC’s Reebok uniform deal.
This amount also varies greatly by fighter according to the number of fights and whether or not they are Chamions or challenging for a Title. The breakdown is a follows:
1-3 bouts: $3,500 per fight
4-5 bouts: $4,000 per fight
6-10 bouts: $5,000 per fight
11-15 bouts: $10,000 per fight
16-20 bouts: $15,000 per fight
21 bouts+: $20,000 per fight
Champs: $40,000 per fight
Challengers: $30,000 per fight
As per UFC 243, $174K was paid out to each of the fighters on the card and Adesanya and Whittaker took home $40K each which is about 46% of the total $174K paid out.
The breakdown for Promotional Compliance pay for UFC 243 was as follows
- Israel Adesanya: $40,000 def. Robert Whittaker: $40,000
- Dan Hooker: $10,000 def. Al Iaquinta: $10,000
- Serghei Spivac: $3,500 def. Tai Tuivasa: $5,000
- Dhiego Lima: $5,000 def. Luke Jumeau: $4,000
- Yorgan De Castro: $3,500 def. Justin Tafa: $3,500
- Jake Matthews: $10,000 def. Rostem Akman: $3,500
- Callan Potter: $3,500 def. Maki Pitolo: $3,500
- Brad Riddell: $3,500 def. Jamie Mullarkey: $3,500
- Megan Anderson: $4,000 def. Zarah Fairn: $3,500
- Ji Yeon Kim: $4,000 def. Nadia Kassem: $3,500
- Khalid Taha: $3,500 def. Bruno Silva: $3,500
In 2012, the UFC announced that bonuses for Submission of the Night and KO of the Night would no longer be awarded.
Bonuses would be awarded at $50K to each of the fighters for Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night.
An official statement from the UFC stated:
The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced today a modification to its live event bonuses. Effective immediately, UFC will award Fight of the Night Bonuses to each of the fighters in the best fight of the night, as well as additional Performance of the Night Bonuses to the two best individual performances on the card. The bonus amounts will remain $50,000. The Performance of the Night bonuses will reward the athletes who put on the best and most exciting individual performances
How Much Do UFC Champions Make Per Fight?
Across all weight divisions a current UFC champion would make minimum $200K per fight. This amount is on the low end of UFC Champions pay per fight and would be a higher amount for the bigger names in the UFC Champions list such as Jon Jones, Khabib and Cormier.
The lower end amount of 200K per fight for a UFC Champion is the reported amount the Demetrious Johnson was earning while as per the numbers released from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for UFC 229 show, Khabib made 2 million for the Main Event fight with Conor Macgregor.
Who Are The Highest Paid UFC Fighters?
Total Earnings of UFC Fighters
As of May 2019, according to statistics that refer to UFC fight earnings only and” doesn’t include any undisclosed PPV bonuses or any other bonuses”, Conor Macgregor lead all UFC fighters in amount paid in total for UFC fight earnings.
The Table below accessed from statista.com shows total earnings of UFC fighters as of May 2019 and can be accessed at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/682884/leading-total-ultimate-fighting-championship-fighter-earnings/
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