Though the question may seem like a short and simple one, it is actually like complex. Much like the music industry, MMA fighters get paid in a number of different ways. A lot of their pay has to do with how popular they are at the time. Take Conor McGregor for example. With his rise in popularity over the last decade, his pay has risen quite a bit.
According to some stats from last year, there were only 187 MMA fighters in the UFC that made over six figures in 2018, though about 37% of the fighters made just less than $45,000, which is the average U.S. household income.
How Do They Get Paid?
There are a few different ways that MMA fighters make their money. One of the top ways to make serious dough is by procuring an endorsement deal. Unfortunately, many of these endorsement deals are only given to the top players. Cody Garbrandt, for example, has a massive sponsorship with Under Armour, which is likely where a large chunk of his income comes from.
Yes, MMA fighters doe get paid to fight. They aren’t animals! Fighting is actually the top source of income for many MMA fighters. On average, a MMA fighter made $138,250 in 2018. Of course, some of the top fighters such as Jon Jones or Conor McGregor are able to rake in millions after every fight thanks to lucrative PPV deals.
A lot has changed in terms of sponsorships over the past few years, especially after the Reebok deal came into play. The Reebok deal gives MMA fighters that take part in less than three fights, a $3,500 per-fight stipend. Fighters who take part in four or five fights will get a stipend of $5,000. It’s actually a low-blow compared to previous sponsorship deals, and many MMA fighters are not happy about it.
Like we said before, endorsements are a great way to make money, though these deals are usually reserved for top fighters. They can earn a fighter hundreds of thousands of dollars, though there aren’t many out there. One major endorsement deal that has popped up in the last year is Stipe Miocic and Modelo.
Thanks to UFC rules, a fighter will get paid whether they win or lose, though there is also a winning bonus, as well as “fight of the night” and “performance of the night” bonuses. The base salary for these fighters can differ greatly. Fighters that are more in demand will typically make more money per match, regardless of whether they win or not.
So there you have it, a bit more insight as to how MMA fighters are getting paid. Some of the highest paid MMA fighters this past year include Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Mark Hunt, Daniel Cormier, and Alistair Overeem, each of whom are making far over a million dollars each year through UFC earnings and third-party endorsements.