Here’s How Much UFC Fighters Get Paid Compared to NBA and Football Stars

Published 06/30/2021, 2:23 PM EDT


The world has seen one of the most famous and richest sports athletes coming out of the UFC. Names like Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov have made millions while competing for the promotion.

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Many people consider MMA fighters as some of the most overpaid athletes on the planet. Yet fighters complain about being underpaid.

So what’s the truth, do all MMA combatants make the same amount of money? And what’s the average salary for a UFC fighter?

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The fighter’s salary varies from person to person. People who are considered as household names could make multi-million dollars from a single bout. Whereas fighters who are up and coming could earn as little as $10,000 per fight.

LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 20: (L-R) Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor of Ireland embrace after finishing five rounds in their welterweight bout during the UFC 202 event at T-Mobile Arena on August 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Fighting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, including all professions. Although the average salary of a UFC fight is about $138,250 per fight. But on maximum, they only fight two to three times a year.

Fighters also need to pay 10-20% of their purse which goes to their coaches and training partners. They suffer cuts and bruises which may take about 3-4 months to heal. In worst-case scenarios like surgery or operation, it could take more than a year.

In this period, a fighter may not be able to compete unless he or she is medically cleared, which results in stagnation in terms of earnings. This is one reason why fighters consider themselves underpaid.

The average salary of athletes in the Top-10 highest-paid sports

As per pickytop.com combat sports is in the ninth position on the Top-10 highest-paid sports. This includes boxing, UFC, and WWE.

1.Basketball$7.4 million to $7.7 million
2.Cricket (IPL)$4.33 million
3.Baseball$3.4 million to $4.36 million
4.Soccer (Football)$6 million to $8 million
5.American Football$2.07 million to $2.99 million
6.Ice Hockey$1.54 million to $3.5 million
7.Auto RacingNASCAR- $112,038, Moto-GP-$2.5 million
8.Golf$628,079
9.Combat SportsBoxing- $51,370, UFC-$138,250, WWE-$500,00
10.Tennis$38,800 to $40,180

The risk to reward ratio is the least in terms of combat sports, specifically mixed martial arts. Every time a fighter enters the cage, his or her life is on the line, which makes it a ruthless profession.

They go through both physical and mental stress to prepare for their bout, yet they remain unsatisfied with their paychecks.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 06: Jon Jones waits in his corner prior to his UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 239 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 6, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

Hight and lowest paid UFC fighters from last year (2020 as per thesportsdaily.com)

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  • Highest paid UFC fighter and champion in 2020: Khabib Nurmagomedov ($6 million)
  • Highest paid non-UFC champion in 2020: Conor McGregor ($3 million)
  • Lowest paid UFC champion in 2020: Petr Yan ($230,000)
  • Lowest paid UFC fighter in 2020: Cole Williams ($9,500)

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Saurabh Singh

215 articles

Saurabh Singh Laledia is an MMA enthusiast who works as a UFC writer for EssentiallySports. His passion for the UFC infused with his knowledge of various fight styles such as Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu motivated him to pursue a career in combat sports journalism, as it would be where he could exhibit his expert views and unbiased opinions whilst keeping the fan’s perspective alive. He started watching the sport at UFC 53 in 2005 when ‘The Ace’ Rich Franklin beat Evan Turner to claim the belt and has traced the journey of the middleweight title right from 'The Spider' to 'The Last Stylebender'.

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