Making Money in MMA

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the world's leading mixed martial arts organization. Since 1993, the UFC has been hosting professional MMA fights with athletes from all over the world competing in a variety of weight classes.

In addition to their regular pay-per-view events, the UFC also has a reality show called The Ultimate Fighter which pays fighters a stipend each week during filming and gives them an opportunity at winning a six-figure contract with the UFC afterwards.

How much does it pay to get inside the Octagon? How much do UFC fighters earn for putting their life on the line?

What Is The Average UFC Fighter Salary?

As we’ve already established, the UFC doesn’t have a union. It's not because of some policy to keep fighters down, but rather because they are technically independent contractors, not employees.

In other words, if you’re an employee working for someone else (like many of us are), then you are covered by minimum wage laws and other labor protections that protect your safety on the job and ensure equal pay for equal work. In fact, even if you're self-employed in a freelance capacity, these rules still apply when it comes to getting paid fairly as well as getting enough time off from your job to rest or recover from injuries sustained while working.

A shirtless man wearing yellow UFC shorts kicking a heavy bag.
UFC fighters are technically independent contractors, not employees.

Yes, these rules also apply when it comes down to what percentage of revenue makes its way into your pocket after live events. As independent contractors in this context though... none of these things apply!

It's fairly common knowledge that UFC fighter salaries vary according to experience level, ability/talent level, and maybe even luck too: Some fighters just seem destined for greatness while others have been around forever without ever reaching their potential.

Some fighters get lucky while others don't... But generally speaking: According to NBC sports, the average NFL salary is 2.7 million USD. This is astronomically higher than what most fighters make in the UFC.

How Much Do UFC fighters Make Per Fight?

The answer is that it depends on the fighter. The average purse for a UFC fight is $100,000, but some fighters earn more than others. Some fighters get paid more than others because they're stars who bring in big pay-per-view sales, and some fighters make less than others because they're not as popular or don't have as many sponsors.

As for how much an individual fighter gets paid? That's also dependent on a few different factors: whether or not he/she has won previous fights; whether or not he/she has been injured in previous fights; whether or not there are other organizations interested in paying him/her more money to fight there instead of just taking the guaranteed money from UFC (or even if there are any opportunities at all).

How Many UFC Fighters Earn More Than $1 Million?

The answer to this question is, of course, “it depends.” There are a few dozen fighters who earn over $1 million per year due to their sponsorships and other sources of income (such as acting and even podcasting in some cases).

Some of these current (and past) fighters include Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes and Georges St-Pierre.

A more interesting question would be: What percentage of UFC fighters make a living wage? This is an important question because the majority of UFC fighters do not have sponsorships or other sources of income.

A fighter can win all his fights in the cage but still be forced out by injury or retirement without any way to support himself (outside of fighting again some day).

Who is the Highest-Paid UFC Fighter?

The answer is an interesting one, because there are several answers. It depends how you define 'highest paid'. If we look at just how much money each athlete makes in a single bout, then Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are on top of their respective fields.

George St-Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Anderson Silva, and Alistair Overeem all made great money over the span of their careers. What are we referring to as "great money"? Anything over $5 million.

Who Is The Lowest-Paid UFC Fighter on Roster?

You might be surprised, but there is a trend of fighters being paid in the range of $10,000 to $50,000 per fight. In fact, according to other sites that cover this topic, a handful of UFC fighters take home well over $100,000 for each bout they compete in.

A man with dark sunglasses wearing an official Venum backpack and UFC hoodie.
Only a handful of UFC fighters make well over $100,000 for each fight they win.

Some even make over half a million dollars per fight! However, there are some exceptions: some of the lowest-paid UFC fighters on roster earn less than $10,000 for their efforts—and those are just their base salaries.

This is just one example of how unfair and unjust it is for these athletes who put their lives on the line every time they step into the Octagon (which isn't always safe due to injuries like concussions, broken bones, and long term potential issues with CTE).

Millions of us tune into events or pay for tickets to watch live fights at venues around town (or online) and we can all be working together as fans who support what our favorite fighters do to support themselves and their families. Especially because most don't receive much compensation when compared against other professional athletes who play games just as violent or dangerous as mixed martial arts.

Why Do Some UFC Fighters Get Paid So Much Less?

As you might imagine, some UFC fighters get paid a lot more than others. This can make for some pretty exciting matches, which are the backbone of the sport’s popularity.

The reigning champion gets paid more than anyone else in the organization by far—but even they don’t make nearly as much money as another type of competitor: celebrity athletes who play other sports or appear on television shows.

The rankings system is based on popularity and performance as well as how long fighters have been competing in their weight class (the category into which each person competes). Fighters who perform well and have gained traction with fans over time tend to earn higher paychecks from the UFC regardless of whether or not they win or lose their fight.

Very Few Make The "Big Bucks"

In general, there are a few key reasons that some fighters make more than others.

  • The pay of a UFC fighter is usually based on the number of fights they have had, their win/loss record, and their popularity.
  • A UFC fighter will earn between $10,000 to $50,000 per fight depending on how much money the UFC has invested in them.
  • While most MMA fighters make a modest living, there are a few that earn millions.

Money-Making Opportunities

If you’re looking to make a career in MMA, you may want to consider the information above. The good news is, there are countless ways for UFC fighters to earn money outside of their purse and bonuses. From merchandise sales and sponsorship deals to owning a bar or gym—there are plenty of opportunities out there for those willing to take them.