We can't help but wonder, "How much money do MMA fighters make?" Surely it must be a huge fortune, right? After all, they go through a lot of training, competition and pain.
Well, in this article, we will finally put an end to this question and find out how much money do MMA fighters make.
So if you are interested, sit tight, read on and learn! Let's get started.
Source of money of MMA Fighters
To start off this article, let's discuss the source of income of the MMA fighters. Most of you probably thought that they only get it from their matches.
There are still other sources such as endorsements and sponsorship. However, most of the time, only the best of the best in the industry gets to have the opportunity to be offered by these.
Now, let's put statistics into the discussion so that we can better grasp this topic. An average U.S. household annual income is around $45,000.
In the year 2018, 187 fighters or 33% of the UFC were able to earn six-figure income. However, 213 fighters which comprises 37% of the UFC, only made less than the average household income.
But let's look at the bright side. The UFC is exponentially increasing its popularity and the public is getting to know it. With that, the salaries of these fighters will increase too.
In fact, the UFC signed a 5-year contract with ESPN to broadcast its events. It began last January in 2019 and it was very revolutionary for the UFC.
One way that MMA make money is through endorsements, which is basically a premium sponsorship. A variety of companies, not just in the sports industry choose MMA fighters to endorse them.
However, again, this is a very lucrative deal that is why only the best of the best fighters get to have it. These fighters are either champions or has a rising popularity among the fans.
For the companies and businesses, hiring icons is a great way to gain exposure to the public, increasing sales.
The moment people will see their all-time favorite celebrities or personalities in commercials, the chances of purchasing what they are endorsing are high!
Another source of income of MMA fighters are the sponsorship. Furthermore, it is one of the important factors in determining their income. Even fight promotions need sponsors to be able to make money too.
For years, Bud Light was one of the biggest sponsors of the UFC just like how Millers Lite was for Bellator MMA. Fighters used to earn a lot of money from sponsors until the 2014 controversy regarding the UFC-Reebok deal happened.
Brendan Schaub, one of the UFC fighters who was affected by the deal. He stated that he lost money from 6 sponsors just because of the UFC-Reebok deal. Furthermore, this affected a lot of coaches too.
Apparently, because of this deal, fighters were not allowed to have any outside sponsors. Because of this, it made former UFC fighters to transfer to another fight promotions who were open to any sponsorship.
According to my research, with the Reebok deal, the pay structure changed.
For the fighters who have three or less fights in the UFC will receive a Reebok sponsorship stipend of $3500 every fight. For fighters who have four and more fights, get to receive $5000.
Before the deal, both of the categories belong to one tier only wherein fighters earn $2500 per fight.
The last source of income, and the main source of MMA fighters are their matches. I am sure you had this coming. To better understand this topic, let's discuss the average salary of the MMA fighters in their matches, from the best to the worst.
In the year 2018, the average UFC fighter earned $138,250 from $132,109 which they earned in 2017. However, fighters like Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Conor McGregor and many more earn more than this. Usually, they get millions of dollars after their pay-per-view fights.
As for McGregor, he earns a lot considering his Whiskey brand, "Proper Twelve", always make an appearance on each of his matches.
- In 2018, only 187 UFC fighters earned six-figure incomes. That is nothing compared to what NFL rookies' minimum salary which is $450,000.
- Same year, 15 men and women wore UFC championship belts and earned and average of $783,400.
- The only non-champion UFC fighter who earned a lot was Conor McGregor who had an average salary of $3,030,000.
But then again, we should consider that these information are only the ones that are reported with Knockout of the Night bonuses, Fight of the Night bonuses and Submission of the Night bonuses that were made public.
Furthermore, add the Reebok deal earnings that started in UFC 189.
How do MMA Fighters get paid?
On every fight, each of the fighters are guaranteed to earn money from their base salary whether they win or lose. Furthermore, there are bonuses for those who win and do something extraordinary.
Usually, the bonuses are big incentives to motivate them to perform and give their best. Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonuses are usually at $50,000.
Although we talked about this already, it is still worth including because fighters are paid and receive a Reebok sponsorship fee every match.
But then again, a lot of the UFC fighters dislike this one because they are not allowed to have other sponsors which can decrease their earnings.
Every match, fighters get to earn their base salary, regardless of the results. Before each match, a contract will be drawn up for each of the fighters.
Furthermore, fighters that have high ranks tend to earn a better base salary, as well as those fighters that are high on demand.
Fight night bonuses
In the UFC, there is this exciting thing called Fight Night bonuses. Basically, fighters who performed greatly that makes the crowd go wild are given bonuses.
Moreover, if a fighter was able to pull off a great knockout or submission, a Performance of the Night bonus will be given.
Usually, bonuses will reward fighters with $50,000.
Win bonuses are basically given to the fighters who win the match. Although, some fighters do not like this. But hey, it is always nice to get paid more for your hardwork, right?
The highest paid MMA Fighters
Conor McGregor ($110 million)
Currently, the highest paid MMA fighter of all time is no other than the Notorious, Conor McGregor.
This guy is a former champion in two weight classes. Furthermore, his matches against Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov broke records.
However, the match that really made a lot is the once in a lifetime crossover between boxing and MMA. McGregor's match against Floyd Mayweather was groundbreaking.
Rorion Gracie ($50 million)
He is one of the 9th degree red belts in the martial arts, around the world. Furthermore, he is a writer, publisher and a producer. He even trained marines!
He is successful in BJJ and in the MMA world. Now, he is worth $50 million.
Georges St. Pierre ($30 million)
Georges St. Pierre is one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, and one of the most successful. During his reign being the welterweight champion, he was UFC's biggest star. Because of that, he earned a lot of money both from his matches and sponsorship.
Furthermore, he earned an endorsement from Under Armour. When he won against Michael Bisping, garnering the middleweight title, made him earn more money.
Brock Lesnar ($28 million)
Brock Lesnar is one of the most recognizable fighter in the UFC. He is a former UFC heavyweight champion.
BJ Penn ($22 million)
BJ Penn may not have won a fight recently, he is still one of the most wealthy MMA fighters. But then again, he came from a fortunate family and only trained in the MMA because he liked it.
He has now his own gym and been a topic of various documentaries. Penn is a former lightweight and welterweight champion.
Furthermore, he has a couple of film credits, and co-wrote a book entitled, "Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge" as well as his own autobiography which was a huge success.
How much money do MMA Fighters make?
In order for MMA fighters to earn a lot of money, they really have to work hard for it. Furthermore, being the best of the best will reward you with opportunities such as us sponsorship and endorsements.
Like I mentioned above, in 2018, 37% of the UFC fighters made less than the average annual household income in the U.S. The median income of the fighters was $68,500 and the average of all the fighters was $138,250.
How much MMA fighters make greatly depends on their performance, their victories, and popularity. But then again, I think it is fair to say that new fighters deserve more since they perform out there, give us a show through taking kicks and punches! I salute those guys.
Well that concludes my article! Thank you so much for reading my "How Much Money Do MMA Fighters Make?" If you have questions or comments, please leave them on the comment section below!