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Highest Paid MMA Fighters in History

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Since the inception of the UFC in 1993, mixed martial arts has become a lucrative business for everyone involved, including the fighters.

With its ever-growing popularity, the money that some of the biggest stars take home can almost rival that of even boxing’s greatest earners. 

There are different techniques people can use to determine the highest paid athletes. For the purpose of this article, we’ll use a combination of average yearly earnings compared with the time spent in the octagon. The information used for this list is gained by Cashlady research, which you should check out to learn more about the finances involved in this awesome, violent sport. 

Chuck Liddell

The UFC hall of famer is the third highest paid fighter in MMA history, and was an important fixture in the early days of UFC. He had 30 professional fights in the UFC, suffering only nine losses across his entire career. In fact, he went on a huge ten match winning streak spanning three whole years, proving his dominance in the Light Heavyweight division.

His average yearly income through fighting was $5 million, which is a huge amount of money, but even more crazy when you consider that he only spent 27.5 minutes actively competing a year. This means that he earned an outstanding $181,818 per minute of active competition; however, that’s still miles less than our next two fighters. Due to his legacy and close historical ties to the UFC, he has earned himself a pretty sizable net worth, coming in a reported $14 million.

Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar spent only five years competing in the UFC, before returning to the world of professional wrestling in the WWE, but has still left a lasting impression on the industry. Everywhere ‘The Beast’ goes, he demands championship titles, and that was no exception in the MMA world, as he held the UFC World Heavyweight Championship from November 2008 after beating Randy Couture. He also unified the belt with the interim title until he ultimately lost the championship to Cain Velasquez. 

Due to his huge crossover appeal, Brock Lesner has been able to demand a huge fee for his limited appearances.

Despite only fighting 16 times, with a lot of his prime fighting time cut short due to a battle against diverticulitis, he still managed to take home a cool $5.6 million. When you also take into account that he only competed for a total of 16 minutes per year, that means he earned a frankly ridiculous $350,000 every minute he was in the octagon. 

Brock Lesnar is a smart guy, and is still earning the big bucks in the WWE where he held their top title as recently as March 26th, 2020 until he was beaten by the first British world champion, Drew McIntyre. 

Conor McGregor

With how huge the Irishman has been in all forms of popular culture, it’s no surprise to see that he’s taken home the most money out of every MMA fighter ever. Being not too far from controversy, McGregor has been involved in plenty of altercations, with some of them being outside the octagon as well.

While currently flirting with retirement, McGregor has already had an illustrious career in his eight years in the fighting game. He’s won 22 of his 26 matches in the UFC and has the prized distinction of never being knocked out. He’s held both the UFC Featherweight and Lightweight Championship, being the first person to hold two multi-divisional champions at the same time, elevating those divisions in the process. He also has the fastest title fight victory in UFC, demolishing Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds and he dictated the attention of the entire world with that little fight against Floyd Mayweather.

The amount of money he’s earned doesn’t even compare to the other guys, as his yearly average is over $13.7 million, which is more than Liddell’s and Lesnar’s earnings combined. This also doesn’t factor in the Mayweather fight, meaning he truly is in a league of his own when it comes to earning. Having spent an average of just over half an hour competing a year, he earns $432,076 per every minute he’s fighting. 

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