Mixed martial artists have a notoriously tricky profession. They train hard, fight often, and get injured even more frequently. They also don’t make much money, even in the UFC, unless you’re Conor McGregor.
Some fighters can live comfortably off their median base salary of $100k per year, but most fighters barely scrape by on the meager purses they earn for competing in these brutal contests.
Many lower-level UFC fighters use part-time jobs to supplement their income, while others rely on sponsorships from other companies to stay in the game.
For a short answer, how much do UFC fighters get paid?
An experienced UFC fighter gets paid $84,000 per fight on average. A prelims UFC fighter can expect a minimum of $10,000 pay. Bigger names can earn upwards of $100,000 by featuring on the main card and even $500,000 or higher on the main event.
In this article, I’ll focus on the earnings of UFC fighters. If you want to know about how much fighters make in their pro debut or even as an amateur, you’ll want to check out How Much Do Low-Level MMA Fighters Make?
Let’s get into this!
Table of Contents
A Quick Note About My Research
The UFC, the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion company, has generated over several billion dollars in revenue since its inception.
With a booming industry and the sport of MMA becoming ever more popular with fans all over the world, it is no wonder that some fighters are making some serious dough.
I decided to compile some of the most recent publicly available data of UFC earnings to cover how much UFC fighters get paid and see what useful data I can find.
If you want to get more profound about how much UFC fighters get paid, I’ve also put together this video to add extra information. Watch the video here:
In the rest of this article, I’ll use this data to show exactly what an expected income looks like for a UFC fighter and show some real examples of how even the loser can earn more if they have a more prominent name or brand.
Earnings Averages In The UFC
First, let’s look at considering the entire data set pulled in late 2021 and pull out some key baselines about base salaries, bonuses, and sponsorships.
I decided to get a baseline of the averages, medians, minimums, and maximums for the different ways that UFC fighters earn an income on a fight night.
It’s important to understand that UFC fighters have various earnings potential, especially when they are higher up in the ranks.
UFC fighters don’t just get paid a single payment, but it is accumulated from different sources:
- Base Salary is what the UFC pays to the fighter for appearing and fighting
- Win Bonus is what the UFC pays to the winning fighter of the match
- PPV Payout is if the fighter has enough status to demand a share of pay-per-view ticket sales (there are only a few fighters that can get this)
- Performance Bonus is what the UFC pays to the fighter if they make the fight exciting and earn “Fight Of The Night” or other bonuses
- Sponsors payments are what brand partners will pay to individual fighters to represent their brand (usually by wearing their t-shirts on their UFC walkout)
When summarizing the whole data set I have sourced, here are the facts:
Base Salary Data
This table shows the minimum, median, average, and maximum payouts for Base Salary that the UFC pays to its fighters:
Win Bonuses Data
This table shows the minimum, median, average, and maximum payouts for Win Bonuses that the UFC pays to its fighters:
Performance Bonuses Data
This table shows the minimum, median, average, and maximum payouts for Performance Bonuses that the UFC pays to its fighters:
The UFC only pays a maximum of $50,000 for a performance bonus, given to any fighter who earns a “Fight Of The Night” award by the UFC. Which usually means the fight was really exciting to watch.
The great thing about this bonus is that any fighter in the entire UFC roster could earn it on their fight, bumping up a minimum paycheque from $10K to $60K for the lowest level fighters if they go above and beyond to please the audience.
Sponsorships Pay Data
This table shows the minimum, median, average, and maximum payouts for Sponsors Payouts by brand partnerships for fighters:
Pay-Per-View Payouts Data
This table shows the minimum, median, average, and maximum payouts for PPV Payouts that the UFC pays to its fighters:
Now we have a good baseline, I’m going to break down this data and answer some of the common questions about earning potential in the UFC.
How Much Do UFC Fighters Get Paid Per Fight?
A fighter in the UFC makes an average base salary of $84,044 per fight. But if you remove some of the outliers at the bottom and top of earnings, the median base salary is $30,000 per fight. The minimum for competing in the UFC is $10,000 base salary per fight.
UFC fighters can earn more per fight based on other factors such as:
- Win bonuses
- Pay-Per-View payouts
- Performance bonuses
- Sponsorship earnings
Win bonuses usually average out at $51,950 additional for the fight. But the median is $24,000, which means that most fighters, when removing the outliers, who win in a UFC competitive fight will get $24K.
The win bonus is almost always double their base salary for attending the fight. There are some outliers, though.
The minimum win bonus is $10,000 in the UFC and the maximum from my research is $750,000. Any ideas who won that maximum win bonus?
Answer: Jan Blachowicz was paid $750,000 for his appearance against Israel Adesanya at UFC 259, but also pocketed an additional $750,000 bonus for winning the fight!
That’s a huge win bonus. Some of the top degree fighters make most of their earnings for a fight just in the sponsorships and bonuses.
Making an appearance and representing a brand, for example, means they can make a ton of money. But it all depends on having a brand (as a fighter) that’s worth paying for.
Do UFC Fighters Get Paid If They Lose?
UFC fighters get paid whether they win, lose or draw. If the competitor appears for the fight they will be paid a base rate salary. They have a potential for more earnings if they win the fight as well as other bonuses like “Performance of the Night” and fight-week incentives.
That’s why it’s important for a lot of fighters to appear in a fight. You’ll probably hear about fighters still attending a fight with injuries and sometimes even illnesses because if they don’t attend a fight then they could make no money.
Like many fighters, making that paycheque is really important, particularly at the lower ends of the competition. Their ability to keep their career going, support their families and make some profit all depends on taking place in a fight and coming home with their pockets full.
Who Is The Poorest UFC Fighter?
UFC fighters earn a minimum of $10,000 for taking part in a fight, which isn’t very poor. But fighters earning that are the likes of Austin Lingo and Jacob Kilburn in 2021, as well as Antônio Arroyo and Carlton Minus in 2020.
In the Austin Lingo vs Jacob Kilburn fight at UFC Fight Island 7, Austin won the fight and secured himself an extra $10,000 as a Win Bonus:
|Austin Ligo (Winner)||Jacob Kilburn (Loser)|
Austin Lingo also earned $3,500 (like his opponent, Jacob Kilburn) for sponsorships totaling $23,500 earned. Whilst Jacob earned $13,500 for base salary and sponsorships combined.
In 2020, Antônio Arroyo fought Derron Winn and lost. His base salary for the fight was $10,000 which is the lowest I’ve found in my data.
He added on $3,500 earned in sponsorships to total $13,500 earned:
|Derron Winn (Winner)||Antônio Arroyo (Loser)|
His opponent who won the fight, Deron Winn, on the other hand, had a base salary of $16,000 plus $4,000 sponsorships ($20,000 just for fighting). As Deron won the fight he also doubled his base salary and took home a total of $36,000.
It would seem that Deron has slightly more elevated popularity in MMA and the UFC, which means he can demand a bit more paycheque. It probably also is affected by his rank.
Again in 2020, Cartlon Minus lost to Christos Giagos and earned just $13,500 with base salary and sponsorship.
|Christos Giagos (Winner)||Carlton Minus (Loser)|
Carlton’s successor, Giagos, earned a very sweet $49,000 for participating and winning the fight. He grabbed $22,000 for participating, another $22K for winning, and $5K in sponsorship money.
It shows that winning a fight makes a big difference to your earnings, often doubling what you take home. The incentive for winning a fight is not only glory and career progression, but a lot fewer money problems.
Who Is The Highest Paid UFC Fighter?
Conor McGregor is the highest-paid UFC fighter of all time, including one of the highest-paid sportsmen in history. In Conor’s UFC 257 fight against Dustin Poirier, he earned a total of $25,510,000 (25 million) mostly consisting of PPV payouts compared to Dustin’s $1,020,000 (1 million).
Even though Dustin won the fight, there was no win bonus found in this data. Neither fighter won any performance bonus, either. It seems that in those big fights the big money is earned in the base salary and the PPV if they can command it:
|Dustin Poirier (Winner)||Conor McGregor (Loser)|
Whenever there is a UFC event with Conor McGregor on the card, he has the popularity and authority to demand a huge share of the pay-per-view revenue. For the UFC 257 fight against Dustin, Conor bagged a huge $20,500,000 (20 million) just on PPV tickets alone.
McGregor is currently enjoying his time as one of the highest-paid athletes in any sport with an estimated net worth of over $120,000,000 (120 million).
Do UFC Fighters Get Paid A Salary?
UFC fighters don’t get paid a regular salary. They only earn their income by taking place in fight cards and appearing for a fight. Even if they lose, they still get paid a base rate salary for attendance. If they win, they can earn more. They can also earn more money by fight bonuses.
Becoming a UFC fighter is no easy road, as most trying to get to that level will need a ton of support without a regular paycheque coming in.
It can be tricky for some fighters to be competitive enough to keep fighting at such a high level, with the minimum payment being only $10,000 in the UFC. If a fighter can win fights early on, they can move up from the minimums to earn an average closer to $84,000.
Because of these low minimum earnings, many fans and pundits consider UFC fighters to be underpaid. And they’d have good reason to think that way.
What to read next
By now, you should know how much UFC fighters get paid overall and per fight. I’ve also covered common questions about the UFC in the articles below, which will give you the perfect beginners guide to getting into the UFC sport, how many fighters there are, and even looking at why they can be so skinny: