How Much Do Low-Level MMA Fighters Make?

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Updated on March 31, 2023

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Suppose you’re considering jumping into an MMA career. In that case, you probably want to make sure you have realistic expectations about how much you could earn in this game.

Exactly how much do low-level MMA fighters make? Here’s the short answer:

MMA fighters at a low level can earn approximately $300 for appearing in a fight and another $300 for winning the fight. The earnings per fight can increase by participating in more fights and building up a name, and contributing to ticket sales to earn a revenue share.

Just a heads up, if you’re looking to understand how much UFC fighters get paid, that’s not going to be covered here. Everything in this article will be about amateur and low-level MMA fighters.

Keep reading this article to learn more about what you should expect to be paid as an amateur and low-level pro mixed martial artist!

How Much Do Low-Level MMA Fighters Make Per Fight?

Pro debut MMA fighters facing off

A low-level professional MMA fighter can expect to make $300-500 per fight in their first few fights. They can also make additional money from the event’s ticket sales, which can vary greatly depending on how many tickets they can personally sell to increase their share.

Most MMA fighters making their pro debut can expect approximately $300 for appearing and another $300 for winning the fight.

After a few fights, a low-level MMA fighter can expect an extra $100 per fight on top of their appearance and winning earnings, which brings them to potentially earning $400-500 for appearing and another $400-500 for winning totaling potentially $800-1000.

If the fighter can bring a bigger audience to the event, they can earn considerably more money.

Most amateur and low-level MMA fights happen in small local gyms around the USA. They rely on selling tickets and bringing an audience to the event.

This allows participating fighters to earn more money by just getting butts in the seats. The more tickets they sell can also increase their share of the pot overall by expanding their percentage of earnings from the events total ticket sales.

Here is an example of a local MMA promotion that sells tickets for $30 each and how two fighters’ earnings can change:

Fighter A Fighter B
Base Pay (App./Win) $300/300 $300/300
Tickets Sales Zero $600 (20 Tickets)
Revenue Share % Zero 20%
Revenue Earnings Zero $120
Total $300/300 $420/300

Looking at this example, you can see that Fighter A didn’t sell any extra tickets through their audience, so the max they would be able to earn is $300/300 (Appearing/Winning).

Fighter B sold 20 extra tickets that cost $30 each, earning $600 revenue for the event. Because they sold that many tickets, they were given a 20% revenue share from the event’s promotion/gym, earning them an extra $120 and a potential total of $420/300 (Appearing/Winning).

Let’s look at another, slightly more complicated example of how much fighters could earn by selling tickets, still at $30 each. This time, with a little more complexity:

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Fighter C Fighter D
Base Pay (App./Win) $300/300 $300/300
Tickets Sales $1,500 (50 Tickets) $3,000 (100 Tickets)
Revenue Share % 30% 40%
Revenue Earnings $450 $1,200
Total $750/300 $1,500/300

In this one, Fighter C has been able to sell an extra 50 tickets to generate $1,500 in revenue for the event. The promotion has given them a 30% revenue share because of that success, earning them a final maximum of $750/300 (Appearance/Winning).

And Fighter D has gone even further to sell 100 tickets and generate an extra $3,000 in revenue. The promotion gives them an even better revenue share of 40% for bringing so much business. This fighter gets a $1,500/300 (Appearance/Winning) maximum earnings.

At the starting low levels of pro-MMA, everything depends on selling tickets and generating hype and interest in the promotion. This is why utilizing the fighters themselves to sell tickets is often a great way to create more overall revenue and give the fighters a cut.

Every upcoming fight is an opportunity to get to the one after it. And because fighters can earn a lot more by selling tickets than winning, it makes sense for them to focus on that. It sounds counter-productive to the point of fighting, but many low-level fighters need those funds to keep focusing on training and getting them to the next fight.

How Much Do Beginner MMA Fighters Make?

Beginner MMA fighters make roughly $100-300 for their first pro debut. After a few fights, they can quickly earn $300-500 or more. Their fight will likely be with one of the most minor MMA promotions, some of which don’t even appear on TV.

The beginnings of professional MMA could be some of the hardest for a developing fighter. The earnings are extremely low which makes it barely “professional”.

Most fighters at this stage will have a job that they have to balance between training for a fight and on top of that, getting wins on top of that is crucial to spreading awareness of their name and to start building a following.

MMA is not just a sport about who wins but it’s also about who can do it with the most spectacle and bring the most eyeballs. There’s a good reason why Conor McGregor is able to earn the kind of money that he does.

How Much Do Amateur MMA Fighters Make?

Amateur MMA fighter in the corner with their coach

An amateur MMA fighter will often fight for free just to get experience and test their skills or for a charitable cause. But low-level amateur competitions fighters often just earn a participant payout between $100-200.

It’s usually not until they reach a professional promotion that they can earn more than this. The better fighter they become, the more opportunities will open up for them.

Before any fighter makes the heights of the UFC where they could expect a minimum payout of $12,000 per fight – which to many is still considered underpaid – they need to start in amateur bouts.

Amateur MMA competition is usually governed by the IMMAF.

In an amateur MMA fight or even boxing, fighters often start with no income at all. They follow the sport through passion and participate in charity matches or “exhibition” style fights to test their skills and make a name for themselves.

It’s not until the fighter has proven themselves in some amateur fights that they’ll be considered for some local events where they can go pro.

But each fighter has to start somewhere. The earnings could take a while to come and likely rely heavily on event tickets and sponsorships.

In fact, many amateur-level fighters need sponsorships just to keep up their training to get to the events. Many amateur fighters will keep working a full-time job until their fight career takes off.

How Do Amateur MMA Fighters Make Money?

Amateur MMA fighter resting on the corner

Amateur MMA fighters can make extra money by creating their own t-shirts and selling them along with tickets to their events. They can also work with local brands to sponsor them and add their logo to their merchandise to increase their earning potential.

It’s unlikely that any of these methods will lead to enough money to quit your job or pay for MMA classes full-time. Still, it helps amateurs keep building up their brand reputation and gives them enough inspiration to keep going.

Going from an amateur to a pro is no easy road. If you were thinking about starting to fight, you should expect to be earning a meager amount per fight in the beginning. Sometimes nothing at all while you’re an amateur.

It’s also worth thinking strongly about your health, for which the costs could be far greater than the rewards that MMA fighting can give. Every amateur and low-level pro fighter needs to consider this because getting injured can become a massive blocker in your path while costing a lot of money.

Even fighters at the top level can be plagued by injuries that destroy their earning potential. If they can’t fight, they can’t earn as much. The same goes down the entire chain as this is a spectator sport that needs competitors to fight and fans to pay and watch.

Now you should have a good idea of exactly how much low-level MMA fighters make in the early part of their pro careers and how much amateur fighters can hope to make as well. If you want to fight yourself, then make sure to have heavy enough financial security to fall back on if you don’t make it, or worse, get injured!

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