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How much money do UFC fighters make? Different pay grades, bonuses and incentives

Payouts for UFC fighters are divided into 3 categories based on the contract they get from the UFC. Are these fighters underpaid? How much do they make?

Alex Pereira.

MMA, or Mixed martial arts, is the fastest-growing sport today. UFC, on the other hand, is an institution that organizes MMA fights and one that has gained much popularity over the years for both the fights and the fighters. But just how much are fighters making?

Fighter pay has been a heavily debated topic for several years in the UFC. And while there is an average of how much UFC fighters get paid per fight, there are three salary tiers a UFC fighter can fall into. Let’s take you deeper into how it all works.

How much do UFC fighters get paid?

UFC fighters make money primarily through fights and the paychecks they receive from each. The fighters usually sign a contract for a certain amount of fights for a fixed amount of money each time they step inside the Octagon.

The three tiers are low, medium, and high, with the lowest earning between $10,000 and $30,000 and the highest Tier for champions and superstars ranking between $500,000 and $3,000,000 per fight.

New fighters usually get the Lowest Tier contract when they sign with the UFC. After a few wins and a reputation inside the Octagon, a better contract is signed to a middle tier, ranging from $80,000 to $250,000 per fight.

The fighter’s popularity and recent results affect the payouts each receives, ranging from tens of thousands to a few hundred thousand dollars.

UFC Champions and fighters with the biggest fan bases receive the best type of contract, the highest Tier: ranging from $500,000 to $3,000,000 per fight. The more viewers they pull in for the UFC and the more fans they have, UFC fighters can earn as much as half a million dollars to three million per fight, if not more.

While sometimes mistaken, both fight participants take home cash. Depending on the size of their fan base and the tier they fall into, they’ll take home their base earnings. Additionally, whoever wins earns an additional prize, sometimes double their base pay, though that typically only applies to the first two tiers.

Conor McGregor: Impressive career earnings

To further encapsulate how UFC earnings work, let’s use Conor McGregor, the highest-paid UFC fighter with reported earnings of nearly $600 million.

Despite losing to Dustin Poirier, McGregor brought home $22 million in January 2021.

Before then, his last fight was a year before, in which he earned $30 million for knocking out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. That’s $52 million in two fights.

Are UFC fighters underpaid?

McGregor, however, does not represent all UFC fighters. The 35-year-old Irish fighter made a name for himself in the UFC, but thanks to many endorsements and his Proper 12 Irish Whiskey brand, he became one of the highest-paid UFC fighters.

And unlike other major American sports leagues, such as the NBA and NFL, that pay their athletes 50 percent of total revenue, the UFC pays its fighters 16 - 20 percent.