Hello! Welcome to my "How Much Money Do MMA Fighters Make?"
Mixed Martial Arts, or simply known as MMA, is the fastest rising sport in the whole world today. It has been making a name for itself in the mainstream scene, and more people are tuning in to watch.
The most popular MMA promotions include UFC, Bellator, and ONE Championship. These organization gather billions of accumulated views annually, and much more through social media.
With this, we can't help but wonder, why are people choosing to train MMA? Is it because of the pay? Surely, it must be a good fortune after all the training they go through right? Well, in this article, we will finally put an end to the question "How much money do MMA fighters make?"
MMA Fighters' Source Of Income
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 benefit well by these.
Sponsors give out endorsement bonuses to fighters for repping up their products. For example, the UFC is sponsored by Modelo, Monster Energy, ESPN, and Venum. Meanwhile, ONE Championship is sponsored by Xiaomi, JBL, Redbull, Tumi, and Logitech.
MMA Organizations have their popularity exponentially increasing and the public is getting to know it. With that, the salaries of the fighters have grown over the past years 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. UFC also inked a deal with Venum as their exclusive global outfitting partner. On the other hand, ONE Championship has just recently partnered with Amazon Prime and launched their shows and events in the platform.
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. An example of this is Georges St. Pierre's Under Armour endorsement and Khabib Nurmagomedov's Reebok Russia's endorsement.
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.
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.
Some of them were Rory Macdonald and Gegard Mousasi, both went to Bellator MMA. Both of them improved financially since then. ONE Championship also has a variety of sponsors for its fighters.
With the Reebok contract ending in 2021, UFC has signed with Venum. The Venum sponsorship pay system looks like this: Fighters with 1-3 bouts receive $4,000 per appearance; 4-5 bouts get $4,500; 6-10 bouts earn $6,000; 11-15 bouts pocket $11,000; and 16-20 bouts get $16,000; 21 and more get $21,000. Additionally, champions earn $42,000 while title challengers get $32,000.
Actual Pay Check From Fighting
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. The average UFC fighter made $160,022 in 2021, up from average earnings of $146,673 in 2020. 256 fighters (42%) earned six-figures in 2021, up from 219 fighters (38%) in 2020. 116 fighters (19%) made less than the average U.S. income ($25,000).
However, fighters like Conor Mcgregor, Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz, and many more, who are PPV magnets, earn way much more than the average fighters. Usually, they get millions of dollars after their pay-per-view fights.
The highest-paid UFC fighter was Conor McGregor, with $10,022,000 (without PPV bonuses).
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.
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 and ONE Championship, 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 Of All Time
Over the years, the best of the best fighters have accumulated fortune to make their lives beyond comfortable. Here are the highest paid MMA fighters of all time (as of 2022), considering only the career earnings. This does not include PPV points or other bonuses.
1. Conor Mcgregor ($25.13 Million)
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov ($14.77 Million)
3. Alistair Overeem ($9.91 Million)
4. Anderson Silva (8..73 Million)
5. Andrei Arlovski ($7.20 Million)
6. Michael Bisping ($7.14 Million)
7. Junior dos Santos ($7.11 Million)
8. Georges St-Pierre ($7.04 Million)
9. Jon Jones ($7.03 Million)
10. Donald Cerrone ($6.82 Million)
How Much Money Do 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.
The amount of the average income is heavily pulled by the top earners. Sad to say, newer fighters earn less than the rookie players in the NFL or in the NBA.
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!