Concerns about fighter pay and revenue distribution have made UFC fighter pay a hotly contested topic. While detractors claim that fighters only receive a small portion of the UFC’s revenue, the promotion maintains that its compensation structure is equitable and dependent on performance and market value.
How are UFC fighters paid?
UFC fighters receive various forms of compensation. Most athletes have contracts that stipulate how much they will be paid each fight, with increases possible depending on things like popularity and experience. Extra incentives are also awarded for exceptional performances, including “Performance of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” bonuses.
For fighters, negotiating a share of the pay-per-view earnings can be a profitable endeavour. According to Diario AS, there are three separate pay grades in addition to the overall median for UFC fighter pay.
Athletes sign contracts with most MMA promotions guaranteeing them a certain amount of money each time they step into the octagon.
Low-tier fighters can expect to earn between $12,000 and $30,000 per fight, while high-tier fighters can expect to earn between $500,000 and $3,000,000 per fight (based on recent pay-per-view payouts). Conor McGregor, for instance, reportedly earned a whopping $23,011,000 for his UFC 264 fight against Dustin Poirier.
Contracts and Bonus:
Basic contracts are typically extended to new fighters upon signing with the organisation. Upon winning a few fights and making a reputation for themselves in the octagon, fighters are presented with new contracts that pay between $80,000 and $250,000 per match.
There’s a ‘win bonus’ for the winning combatants, usually equivalent to their base pay. This is a major factor in motivating fighters with lower ranks to put in more effort. Fighters can also receive an additional $50,000 if the organisation determines that their performance justifies the previously mentioned bonus payments.
Additionally, a study by Hal Singer provides an example model that demonstrates that fighters normally receive $1 for each PPV sold between $200,000 and $400,000. Therefore, there is a direct correlation between the quantity of PPV purchases and the fighters’ earnings.
Contrary to popular belief, fighters do not receive a cut of the profits from the lucrative apparel deal that the UFC and Under Armour, the company that owns Johnson’s Project Rock line of shoes and apparel, have established. This is another important point to remember.
The top-tier fighters:
Mixed martial arts is one of the most competitive sports and requires a lot of fitness and training to prepare the body for maximum stress and pain tolerance. On top of that comes the pressure of performance in front of thousands of spectators inside the arena and millions more all around the globe glued to their television sets.
It goes without saying that events like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have a large global fan base, making its well-known competitors some of the richest UFC fighters. UFC Holdings, which was established thirty years ago, is currently the biggest mixed martial arts promotion company globally. The UFC, which is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, has eight divisions for men and three for women out of a total of 11. It has grown into a multibillion-dollar, international business as of 2023.
But what are the fighters who compete getting at these UFC events? Given its widespread appeal, it should come as no surprise that mixed martial arts competitors who compete in the UFC make enormous sums of money. The top UFC fighters not only make a lot of money, but they also benefit from multiple endorsement deals. In actuality, a number of the world’s wealthiest athletes are also elite fighters.
In light of this, let’s examine the wealthiest UFC fighters worldwide. Since many of them currently rank among the richest athletes due to sponsorship deals and other sources of income, the list includes fighters from both the current crop and the retired ones.
Richest UFC fighters in the world:
Net worth in 2023: USD 200 million
Conor McGregor, one of the most well-known athletes of the modern era, is undoubtedly among the best in-ring performers in combat sports. With 22 victories, 6 defeats, and no draws in his career, the Irish fighter has an impressive record in the UFC’s octagon-shaped arena. Nineteen of his victories were via knockout, a statistic that demonstrates his skill at taking out opponents with forceful blows.
McGregor is a former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion. With his victory in the latter weight class in 2016, while still holding the featherweight title, the Irishman now holds the distinction of being the first fighter in the UFC’s 23-year history to win two titles. In addition to the UFC, McGregor has held titles in mixed martial arts promotion with Cage Warriors, an English company, at the lightweight and featherweight divisions.
McGregor is the richest UFC fighter in the world, per the most recent report by Celebrity Net Worth. McGregor is among the wealthiest athletes in the world thanks to his net worth, which extends beyond combat sports. It’s interesting to note that in Forbes’ ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes for 2022, he came in at number 35.
The fighter said earlier in 2023 that he has made USD 650 million in his career to date and that he will soon pass the $1 billion mark.
Net worth in 2023: USD 50 million
Rorion Gracie, a well-liked martial arts expert from the 1980s and 1990s, is frequently referred to as the UFC’s “Godfather.” He founded the UFC in 1993 in collaboration with fellow American business tycoon Art Davie. The Californian fighter demonstrated to the world that Gracie jiu-jitsu was the only form of self-defence that could enable a fighter to defend himself against a physically stronger and more skilled opponent.
After leaving the UFC, Gracie took on the responsibility of instructing senior US Army Special Operations Forces soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. The course, currently called Gracie Survival Tactics (GST), is a combative and defensive tactics course by nature.
In addition, he wrote The Gracie Diet: The Secret of the Champions, which was released in 2010.
Net worth in 2023: USD 40 million
Few fighters have ever achieved a perfect record in mixed martial arts competitions at the highest level. And Khabib Nurmagomedov is a part of that select group. He had an undefeated record when he left the UFC with 29 wins and no losses. The Russian is widely considered one of the best fighters in the UFC, and for good reason—he held the title from April 2018 to March 2021, making him the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion in combat sports history.
In addition to being one of the most visually appealing fighters in the sport, Nurmagomedov is also one of the wealthiest UFC competitors worldwide.
Net worth in 2023: USD 20 million
Georges St-Pierre, who holds titles in the welterweight and middleweight divisions, is a former UFC champion and is regarded as one of the most successful mixed martial artists of all time. Before retiring in 2017, he became the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold multiple division titles, having won the Middleweight and Welterweight titles once each.
Following his UFC retirement, St-Pierre pursued a career in acting. The former fighter from Canada made appearances in a number of films, including The Striking Truth (2010), Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), and Cartels (2017). Additionally, he appeared in two television programmes that were part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: What If…? and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
With his enormous net worth, it goes without saying that St-Pierre is one of the wealthiest UFC fighters in the world.
Net worth in 2023: USD 20 million
Over the years, one of the most well-known athletes in the world, Brock Lesnar, has gained enormous popularity in the combat sports industry. He was a member of the UFC for nine years, from 2008 to 2017, but the younger generation is more familiar with him for his exploits in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Championships.
As of right now, the American sportsman is the only individual to have won every major heavyweight championship in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), UFC, and WWE.
Lesnar has participated in professional American football in addition to combat sports. In addition, he has acted in a few Hollywood productions, including Countdown (2019), Foxcatcher (2014), and True Giants (2014). Lesnar has also appeared in a number of television programmes, including Rome Is Burning and E:60.
Lesnar has also consistently appeared in WWE video games since 2011. He has also participated in UFC games in the past.
Net worth in 2023: USD 20 million
Tito Ortiz, a former American mixed martial artist, was one of the UFC’s original stars. The UFC Lightweight Champion title belonged to him from April 2000 to September 2003. The mixed martial arts gear and apparel brand Punishment Athletics, based in Ortiz’s native Huntington Beach, California, is led by CEO Ortiz.
Ortiz was named Mayor pro tempore (temporary) in November 2020 after being selected as one of the winners of the Huntington Beach City Council election. Ortiz was sworn in on December 7, 2020, but he left the city council on June 1, 2021, less than six months later.
He has appeared in a few Hollywood films, including Above the Shadows (2019), Zombie Strippers (2008), and Cradle 2 the Grave (2003).
Net worth in 2023: USD 18 million
Wanderlei Silva, a former Brazilian mixed martial artist, is most recognised for his roles in the UFC and PRIDE Fighting Championships in Japan. In PRIDE history, he is the record holder for the most victories, knockouts, title defences, and winning streaks. In 2003, he won the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament and was the former PRIDE Middleweight Champion. The Brazilian, though, never experienced the same level of success in the UFC.
Silva has amassed an enormous fortune from his career earnings, regardless of how well he performs. In addition, he made appearances in a few films, including Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018), Here Comes the Boom (2012), and Nagurimono (2005).
Net worth in 2023: USD 14 million
Ronda Rousey is the only female combat sports athlete on this list and is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters in history, having competed in both the WWE and the UFC. Up until 2022, Rousey was the UFC champion with the most title defences, but Valentina Shevchenko eventually overtook her.
The American fighter is still the only female WWE and UFC champion as of right now. She also became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo when she took home a bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In addition to the ring, Rousey has acted in a number of Hollywood films. One of the richest UFC fighters in the world, her filmography includes the likes of Furious 7 (2015), The Expendables 3 (2014), Entourage (2015), Mile 22 (2018) and Charlie’s Angels (2019).
Net worth in 2023: USD 14 million
Anderson Silva, a former boxer and mixed martial artist from Brazil, is most known for his time in the UFC and is considered by many pundits as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. He now holds the record for the longest reign as the middleweight champion of the UFC. His 2,457-day title reign, which began in 2006 and ended in 2013, included 16 victories in a row, a UFC record.
Silva, like many other UFC fighters, has appeared in several Hollywood productions. Among them are the following: Worms (2013), Hell’s Chain (2009), Never Surrender (2009), Till Luck Do Us Part 2 (2013), and The Invincible Dragon (2019).
Silva has benefited from a sponsorship agreement with Brazilian football team Corinthians since 2011. Additionally, he has a long-standing endorsement agreement with Burger King, an American fast-food chain.
Net worth in 2023: USD 12 million
Former American mixed martial artist Chuck Liddell tops the list of the wealthiest UFC fighters. Along with fellow fighter Randy Couture, he is widely regarded as the founder of UFC Championships. Known by most as “The Iceman,” Liddell is a one-time winner of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. He is among the most decorated UFC fighters in the history of the championship with 21 victories and 9 defeats.
In addition to fighting, Liddell has a thriving filmography. A number of Hollywood films, including How High (2001), Cradle 2 the Grave, Kick-Ass 2 (2013), Fight Life (2012), and Fight of Fury (2020), have featured him as an actor.
With seven victories under his belt, he reportedly has the fourth-longest winning streak in the history of the UFC Light Heavyweight class.
So, this was all about the list of the richest UFC fighters and their pay. Also read, What are the most skilful sports? Top 10 skilful sport!