MMA is a very popular sport with millions and millions of dedicated viewers across the world. You might have seen big names like Connor McGregor showing off his money, but do all sports MMA fighters make this kind of cash?
There is no denying that Dana White has set up a very lucrative business and the money just keeps on rolling in. However, we all know that not all of the money which a business generates goes to its main stars. So, how much do MMA fighters make?
How Much Money Do MMA Fighters Make?
What you might be surprised to find out is that answering this question is a bit more complicated than you might think. MMA was not always such a lucrative business for its fighters, but over the past decade or so, the popularity of the sport has skyrocketed, and so has the salaries of the fighters with it.
Now, let’s do keep in mind that there are close to 1,000 fighters in the UFC, and yes, only the very top stars earn the top bucks.
There is shown to be somewhat of a large discrepancy between the number of fighters earning good money and those who are just scraping by. Newer fighters do have issues in terms of having good booking agents which book the big fights for them. The MMA is in this way no different from other pro sports, with only the very top echelon of athletes earning really good money. Did you know that in 2018, there were 187 UFC fighters who earned 6 figure salaries?
This accounts for roughly 33% of all fighters in the UFC. On the other hand, 37% of MMA fighters, so around 200 of them, earn less than $45,000 per year, which is the median USA household income. The rest of the MMA fighters sit somewhere in between in terms of how much they own.
So, as you can see, if you are a really good and top-level MMA fighter, you can earn a very good living, especially when it then comes to endorsements and sponsorship deals. However, if you are just starting out in the MMA, you can have a really tough time doing as much as just scraping by and earning enough cash to live a decent life.
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Highest Earning MMA Fighters of 2017
Just to put things into perspective a little bit, let’s take a look at the list of the highest earning MMA fighters in 2018.
- Conor McGregor$ 3,030,000
- Khabib Nurmagomedov$ 2,570,000
- Mark Hunt$ 2,295,000
- Daniel Comier$ 1,820,000
- Alistair Overeem $ 1,720,000
- Derrick Lewis $ 1,440,000
- Stipe Miocic$ 1,430,000
- Andrei Arlovski $ 1,255,000
- Cris Cyborg$ 1,080,000
- Donald Cerrone$ 900,000
- Francis Ngannou$ 890,000
- Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza $ 840,000
- Junior dos Santos$ 830,000
- Amanda Nunes $ 700,000
- Anthony Pettis $ 696,500
- Thiago Santos $ 648,000
- Frankie Edgar$ 635,000
- Robert Whittaker$ 610,000
- Israel Adesanya$ 600,500
- Tyron Woodley$ 590,000
- Charles Oliveira $ 589,000
- Brian Ortega $ 585,000
- Yoel Romero $ 545,000
- Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua $ 540,000
- Alexander Gustafsson $ 530,000
- Jon Jones $ 530,000
How Do MMA Fighters Get Paid?
You might be wondering how exactly a UFC or MMA fighter earns their money. Well, your average MMA fighter is going to have various revenue streams. Something that we cannot forget here is that besides base salary and endorsements, there are also incentives like “fight of the night” and win bonuses which can easily go up to $50,000 for a single fight.
Each MMA fighter gets a base salary. Every fighter has a contract which is drawn up, which covers a certain period of time and a certain number of fights to be held within that time period. Each fighter gets a base pay which they receive regardless of whether or not a fight is won.
Something which winning fighters enjoy is the luxury of the win bonus. Generally speaking, fighters who win their fights will get paid double their base salary for that particular fight. Not all people agree with this, but it certainly does provide a good incentive for people to be at the top of their game.
Fight Night Bonus
Another way in which an MMA fighter can earn money is by getting the $50,000 fight of the night bonus. This is awarded to one particular fight of the night which really blew all others out of the water. This is a reward saved for fighters who really go above and beyond.
The next big way in which MMA fighters make their money is through sponsorship deals. Fighters will agree to wear logos and advertisements for specific brand names, and in return, they get paid a certain amount of money, usually a whole lot of it. This is why you always see the clothing of MMA fighters covered in brand names and various logos.
The other way in which MMA fighters make their money is through endorsement deals. For example, Connor McGregor starring in a Burger King commercial is a perfect example of an MMA fighter endorsement and these deals are easily worth millions of dollars.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of UFC fighters do make pretty decent money. Sure, things can be a little rough in the beginning, but this is really the case with all professions. Once an MMA fighter starts chalking up some wins, the dollars usually start flowing in fairly regularly. Of course, only the best of the best get a deal that is worth millions.