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The Top 10 Highest UFC Payouts in History

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What are the craziest paydays in UFC history? Who has banked the fattest checks inside the Octagon? We take a look at the list of highest UFC payouts and find out how much the top UFC stars made on their luckiest nights.

The UFC is hands down one of the biggest names in the global sports industry right now. However, the organization had a modest beginning. In its first-ever event in 1993, champion Royce Gracie was the only fighter who walked away with a paycheck. Gracie received $50,000, a very modest sum compared to the earnings of today's UFC fighters, even when adjusted for inflation. These days of penny-pinching on UFC purses are long gone.

Financially, the UFC had a record-shattering year in 2023. It raked in a whopping $1.13 billion in revenue. Unsurprisingly, this financial success has translated to larger UFC payouts in recent years.

Nowadays, top-tier names on the UFC roster are counted among the best-paid athletes in the world. That said, not all UFC fighter payouts are the same. While superstars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey make six figures from a single fight, rising stars and newcomers fight for a fraction of that. 

Highest UFC Payouts in History 

In this section, we will rank the bouts with the biggest UFC purse from tenth to first. You might already have some idea in the back of your head about the names you are going to see. So, check out this list and find out how many of your predictions were right: 

10. Alistair Overeem UFC 218 – $850,000

Alistar Overeem UFC payouts

The first name on the list is an interesting one! Alistair Overeem fell flat on the canvas at the end of his UFC 218 fight against Francis Ngannou. Overeem could not get the better of Ngannou, but he still managed to secure one of the highest UFC payouts of all time. The Dutchman received $850,000 for his efforts, which could have been much higher had he not fallen victim to Ngannou’s mighty left hook. 

Overeem was the fighter with the bigger pedigree ahead of the UFC 2018 co-main event. On the contrary, Ngannou, who would claim the heavyweight title four years later, was having a breakthrough year. A victory against Overeem would have been a statement feat for Ngannou at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. 

Aware of Ngannou's thunderous punching power, Overeem attempted a clinch to neutralize the threat. Ngannou, however, managed to switch positions and pin Overeem against the cage. After a period of grappling against the cage, the referee intervened to separate the fighters. This split-second break proved fatal for Overeem. Ngannou pounced with a lightning-fast left hook, a brutal blow that sent Overeem to the floor. 

Despite being on the receiving end of a KO, Overeem banked $850,000, thanks to his reputation and the sky-high anticipation around the bout. 

9. Daniel Cormier UFC 220 – $1,000,000

Daniel Cormier is one of the most decorated fighters in UFC history. He seized the opportunity and claimed the Light Heavyweight Championship belt after Jon Jones lost it because of disciplinary reasons. He also went on to win the Heavyweight title later on, which made him only the second fighter in UFC history to become a double champion.

Cormier relished the biggest UFC payday of his career when he defeated Volkan Oezdemir, defended his Lightweight crown, and banked a million dollars. 

Oezdemir, fueled by a string of three 2017 victories including two sub-42-second knockouts, came out swinging in round one. The Swiss fighter showcased his raw aggression, unleashing a flurry of jabs and looping right hands. Cormier, the seasoned veteran, was forced to dig deep and absorb the onslaught.

The defending champion was eventually rewarded for his patience and experience. Oezdemir's early fireworks couldn't last. Fatigue set in, and Cormier capitalized. In round two, Cormier took control with a seamless takedown. From a dominant crucifix position, he unleashed a relentless assault, forcing referee Kevin MacDonald to stop the fight and hand the bragging rights to Cormier. 

8. Stipe Miocic UFC 226 – $1,300,000

Stipe Miocic UFC payouts

2018 witnessed one of the most iconic moments in MMA history; the first clash between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. Miocic, already established as a legend, stepped into the Octagon to defend his UFC World Heavyweight Title against Cormier, who held the Light Heavyweight title back then. It turned out to be a battle for the ages! 

While Miocic came up short against Cormier in their first encounter, he bounced back with a vengeance, defeating him twice in later fights. A million-dollar consolation prize certainly softens the blow of a loss, and his $1.3 million UFC prize money lands him at number eight on our list of highest UFC payouts.

Anticipation hung heavy in the air as the sparks began to flow as soon as the opening bell rang. Cormier, a relentless pressure fighter, immediately took control of the center of the octagon against the champion. He fearlessly stalked Miocic, throwing combinations of jabs, uppercuts, and clinches to control the fight, while a composed Miocic looked for openings to land his counter punches.

The night came to an abrupt end, however, as Miocic succumbed to a decisive short right hand blow from Cormier. Miocic avenged this loss later, but this was his biggest UFC payout. 

7. Khabib Nurmagedov UFC 229 – $2,000,000

Khabib Nurmagomedov comes next on the highest UFC Fight Night payouts list. The Eagle transformed from a rising contender into one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, all in a remarkably short timeframe. 

After achieving a flawless 10-0 record in the UFC and securing the World Championship title, Khabib faced off against The Notorious, Conor McGregor. This matchup catapulted Khabib's status to new heights, earning him one of the highest payouts in UFC history for this bout.

The much-anticipated grudge match at UFC 229 lived up to the hype, but not in the way many expected. Khabib's suffocating wrestling neutralized McGregor's striking prowess. After dominating with takedowns and ground control, Khabib submitted McGregor with a choke. Unfortunately, the fight's conclusion spilled over into a brawl outside the Octagon.

Khabib and McGregor both received lengthy bans for their involvement in the post-fight melee.

The Russian was handed a nine month suspension, while McGregor was suspended for six months. While the brawl did mar the spirit of the night, Khabib will relive it fondly because of his incredible win and of course, the sweet two million dollar UFC prize money. 

6. Nate Diaz UFC 202 – $2,000,000

Nate Diaz UFC prize money

At number six on our list of highest UFC payouts sits Nate Diaz, a name synonymous with upsets. After winning The Ultimate Fighter, he landed a last-minute fight against the then-unstoppable Conor McGregor, stepping in for Rafael dos Anjos. The Californian’s audacious personality turned him into a marketing machine for UFC 196. After his upset win over Conor McGregor, he used his newfound leverage to secure a significant financial reward for the rematch at UFC 202. McGregor got his redeeming win, but Diaz got a large share of the hefty UFC purse. 

McGregor wasn't looking for a quick knockout this time. He methodically attacked Diaz's lead leg with kicks, forcing Diaz to adapt while waiting for openings to land precise overhand lefts. The Irishman deservingly took the lead in the first round. 

Diaz gained momentum in the later stages of the fight, dragging the battle all the way to the last round. McGregor, however, had the last laugh via decision. Even though he couldn’t secure back-to-back wins against his Irish rival, Diaz recorded the biggest payday of his UFC career. 

5. Georges St. Pierre UFC 217 – $2,500,000

St Pierre UFC pay

Capping off a dominant reign at the top, UFC great Georges St-Pierre hung up his gloves in 2013 after a remarkable 10th title defense. St-Pierre was somewhat forced into the decision after continuous battles with injury. 

So, he wanted to say goodbye to the fans on his own terms, and four years later, he entered the cage for one last bout. St-Pierre returned from retirement to challenge the Middleweight king, Michael Bisping, in 2017 and put on a display that cemented his legacy as one of the UFC GOATs. 

Despite a four-year hiatus, St-Pierre looked anything but rusty against the vocal Bisping. The Canadian fighter secured takedowns in the first two rounds, electrifying the Madison Square Garden crowd who cheered for the returning hero. St-Pierre sealed the win with a rear-naked choke at 3:32 of round three, extending his UFC win streak to a remarkable 13. He was rewarded with a $2.5 million check for winning his farewell fight. 

4. Brock Lesnar UFC 200 – $2,500,000

Brock Lesnar brought his WWE stardom to UFC and hit the ground running. To this day, he remains as one of the most high-profile fighters to have fought under the UFC banner. He captured the Heavyweight Championship in a lightning-fast four fights, which is a remarkable feat, to say the least. 

While his UFC finale victory against Mark Hunt was overturned due to a failed drug test, Brock Lesnar still walked away with a whopping $2.5 million guaranteed purse. Lesnar had to pay a $250,00 fine, however, but it was only 10% of his winning of the night. This one’s a controversial one, but Lesnar’s two and half million dollar haul is one of the highest UFC payouts we have ever seen. 

3. Conor McGregor UFC 229 – $3,000,000

McGregor UFC payouts

While the true windfall comes from pay-per-view buys for Conor McGregor, he does receive a guaranteed UFC purse for every fight. McGregor's clash with Khabib Nurmagomedov marked a historic moment in UFC pay. McGregor became only the second fighter ever guaranteed a staggering $3 million. 

The evening did not end the way he had hoped as he failed to beat Khabib and was suspended later on for the post-fight brawl. However, the hefty $3 million UFC payout must have been a great consolation prize for the MMA star. 

2. Ronda Rousey UFC 207 – $3,000,000

Despite an impressive UFC run, Ronda Rousey still carried the weight of her first loss to Holly Holm when she faced Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. Rousey's UFC tenure ended abruptly with a first-round KO by Nunes. However, her dominance prior to that earned her the title of highest-paid female fighter in UFC history.  Despite the loss, her efforts inside the ring guarantee her a spot on this list.

Seeking redemption after a brutal loss to Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey returned to the UFC only to face another nightmare. Amanda Nunes unleashed a savage striking attack, dismantling Rousey in a mere 48 seconds and retaining the UFC women's bantamweight title.

1. Conor McGregor UFC 257 – $5,000,000

Conor McGregor failed to win his rematch with Dustin Poirier at 257, but reports say, he made a seemingly unbelievable sum of $5 million from the bout. This is the highest UFC prize money ever paid to a fighter in the division. The numbers would look crazier when you factor in the PPV. Overall, McGregor made more than $20 million from the fight. 

Despite holding the #2 lightweight ranking, 32-year-old Dustin Poirier entered the fight as a significant underdog according to bookmakers. He faced the legendary #4 ranked contender, arguably the most recognizable fighter in the sport's history.

McGregor surrendered to an avalanche of punches in the second round after Poirier meticulously targeted the Irish fighter’s legs in the first round. It was a statement win for the American, but McGregor was the one who received the fattest paycheck. 

There you have it, folks! These are the highest UFC payouts of all time. Conor McGregor dominates the list, even though he couldn’t win any of his highest-paying fights. Ronda Rousey had some incredible moments in her UFC career, but her swift knockout to Nunes was the one that proved to be the most rewarding. 

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.