Most Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) professionals don’t make anywhere near the income fans think they make. This infographic came from Betway, showing how much the typical mixed martial arts contender makes, where the funds go, and how these brutal warriors measure up, money-wise, with the partners in basketball, football, and several other major spectator sports. It’s shocking to see the relatively low salaries earned by mixed martial arts fighters compared to other sports. So, why do we fans keep hearing about million-dollar salaries and super-sized match bonuses?
It’s a good question and one that gets to the very root of the salary problem in the UFC. Fans hear about mega salaries because large dollar amounts make great headlines. When two of these modern gladiators enter the ring, and even the loser takes home more than a million bucks, fans remember that fact. The problem is that most viewers tend to assume that all UFC contestants earn the glamor money, and fly around the world in their own jets. It isn’t so. Those average pros have to pay all their own expenses, have no union representation, and usually dish out 10 percent of their income to their managers.
After that, you’re not looking at high earnings but something more similar to what a university instructor takes home. As the infographic proves, average athletes in mixed martial arts take home very average incomes. So, how to all those top-tier combatants garner the big bucks? Here’s a look at how the upper-echelon MMA participants in rake in the cash.
Whether it’s burger chains, auto brands, hotels, airlines, exercise equipment, or other products and services, the elite of the fighting world can take home massive paychecks just by lending their names to companies who want to leverage that star power and turn it into profits. Lesser names, and new fighters, have no chance for getting these kinds of endorsement deals. As is the case in boxing, only the top one percent of one percent of the pack ever get in on the mega endorsement money.
If you ever read post-match news articles about the major contests, you’ll notice something quite odd. It seems that the huge takes for top pros does not arrive in the form of match fees or even endorsement cash but from something called PPV points. Pay-per-view earnings often flow to one or both of the fighters in a world-class contest and can deliver individual paychecks of amounts in the $50 million range. Keep in mind that only a handful of athletes ever see PPV points, but those who do can become instant multi-millionaires.
Per Match Bonuses
The per match money for MMA contestants is similar to what professional boxers see. However, it’s also only the elites who take home substantial amounts for simply appearing in a match. For the top names in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, an appearance fee, also known as a base salary, can be several million dollars. Still, these salaries are nowhere near the PPV point money the top professionals earn.
Some of the statistics were taken from Betway.