UFC Fighter Pay: How Much Money Do UFC Fighters Make?



UFC Fighter Pay: How Much Money Do UFC Fighters Make?

UFC fighters are known to earn from many sources, but their main income is of course the fights they compete in. So, what is the average UFC fighter pay

What makes UFC so popular is, of course, the high-level athletes who fight in the championship.  Parallel to this is obviously the organization’s earnings, which is what is used to pay these athletes. But, do the two add up? Are UFC fighters getting paid what they should be?

We dive into everything to do with UFC fighter pay, looking at how UFC contracts work, the average fighters pay per fight, and much more.

UFC Fighter Pay Explained

Unlike other sports, UFC fighters are paid a considerably lower share of revenue when compared to similar sports. 

Now, endorsements and other sources of income aside, the main source of income for the average UFC fighter is through their contract with the UFC. Depending on the fighter’s level of athleticism, their UFC contract salaries are negotiated. Every single fight a fighter competes in during the championship, they are paid for it.

There are also cash bonuses for the winner of the match. All these finer details are mentioned in the fighter’s contracts for the championship. The fighter’s popularity and results from recent fights affect the payouts each of them receives, ranging from tens of thousands to a few hundred thousand dollars.

UFC Fighter Pay Per Fight

As mentioned, based on the fighter’s popularity and results from recent fights, the paycheck of a fighter is set up. UFC contracts are created with this in mind for each fight they compete in. 

There are three tiers of earning for all the UFC fighters out there. These three tiers are low, medium and high with the lowest UFC fighter pay per fight being between $10,000 to $30,000. For the medium tier, the UFC fighter pay per fight is between $80,000 to $250,000. Last but not least, for the highest tier, the UFC fighter pay per fight ranges from $500,000 to a whopping $5,000,000.

Rookie or new fighters who just started in the championship are those who get the low-tier paychecks after signing their UFC contracts. After gaining a few wins and building up their reputation as a fighter, they have the option to negotiate their contract and raise their paychecks up to the medium tier.

Of course, the exact amount of pay is set based on the fighter’s popularity and how good they are in the Octagon against their opponents. 

Average UFC Fighter Pay

When it comes to the average UFC fighter pay, it is based completely on the fighter’s popularity and their fan base. The average UFC fighter is paid anywhere between $80,000 to $500,000 per fight. 

Contrary to popular belief, not all fighters earn millions because some are not as popular as others. The more viewers a fighter pulls in for the UFC, the more fans they have which results in their paycheck rising up to the millions.  

Something else the casual viewer may not know is that both fighters participating in the match inside the cage take home cash. Of course, the winner gets a cash bonus, but it is extra earning. 

Depending on their UFC contracts, the loser usually takes home a base earning while the winner earns more for defeating their opponent. Most of the time, the cash bonus for winning is double their average base earning, but that is generally for the two higher tiers of the UFC contracts. As for the lower tier, they earn a good $10,000 to $30,000 extra for winning on top of their base earning. 

Cash bonuses are also awarded for “Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night” to UFC fighters. The size or amount of these bonuses can sometimes be anywhere between $40,000 to $80,000 but they are normally $50,000 on average. 

For lower-tier UFC fighters, these cash bonuses are sometimes double or triple the amount of their base earnings. The UFC also pays undisclosed locker room bonuses to fighters, as revealed by the president of the UFC company, Dana White. These bonuses can be anywhere between $4,000 to $25,000 but it is normally $15,000 on average.

Starting from UFC 273, three “Fan Bonus of the Night” awards were introduced with, you guessed it, cash bonuses. For every pay-per-view event, three fighters will be awarded a bonus by 

Viewers of the UFC could vote up to a total of three times per pay-per-view on This starts from the opening of the PPV preliminary card in the championship and ends an hour after the conclusion of the main card. The cash bonuses will be paid in Bitcoin in US dollars by at $30,000 for first place, $20,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place.

How Do UFC Contracts Work?

UFC contracts are quite simple, with not too many contractual obligations and a straightforward paycheck mentioned. UFC contracts are set up individually for each fighter based on how well-known the fighter is and how well sponsored the fighter plus the event is. So, how much are UFC contracts and how do they work? Keep on reading to find out. 

UFC Contracts Explained

As mentioned earlier, UFC contracts are set up individually for each fighter based on how well-known the fighter is and how well sponsored the fighter plus the event is. The fighters are obviously paid per fight and these are the UFC contracts salaries. They typically get paid money to fight, which is called “show money”, but are also able to win additional cash prizes for winning, known as a “win bonus” and other awards, as mentioned earlier. 

The UFC is contractually obligated to offer every fighter a certain amount of fights every year. At present, this amount is at least three fights per calendar year. 

This means that if the UFC offers a fighter only one fight in a calendar year, they are contractually bound to pay the fighter the base paycheck for the other two fights that were not offered. However, the catch here is that if a fight is offered to the fighter and they decline it, the fight offered is still considered to be a properly offered fight from a contractual viewpoint.

How Much Are UFC Contracts?

OK, but actually how much are UFC contracts, you ask? As we’ve already touched on, UFC contract salaries have three tiers for all the UFC fighters out there, based on their popularity and match results. 

  • Low – $10,000 to $30,000. 
  • Medium – $80,000 to $250,000
  • High – $500,000 to $5,000,000

But to know truly how much are UFC contracts, we need to know the average value of UFC contracts. The average UFC fighter’s contract ranges from $80,000 to $500,000 as pay per fight. 

Participating in five to six fights matches in a calendar year, the average middle-tier UFC fighter could technically earn up to $2,500,000 excluding win bonuses and additional cash prizes from awards or locker-room bonuses. On top of that, if they get endorsements with brands and/or create their own brand of products, they could earn more. 

But, as you’ll see below, that’s not always the case…

Biggest UFC Contracts

As UFC contracts are created based on how well-known a fighter is and how well sponsored the fighter plus the event is, the biggest UFC contracts in history belong to the most renowned fighters in UFC. So, here are five of the biggest UFC contracts in history for a single fight:

  1. Connor McGregor – $3,000,000 
  2. Khabib Nurmagomedov – $2,040,000
  3. Nate Diaz – $2,000,000
  4. Alistair Overeem – $860,000
  5. Anderson Silva – $620,025

Why UFC Fighter Pay is Controversial

While UFC is the biggest MMA championship in the world, it is not without criticism and controversies. The most major controversy to exist regarding the UFC is how much they pay their fighters. So, why is UFC fighter pay a controversial topic and are the UFC fighters underpaid? 

Are UFC Fighters Underpaid?

Yes, UFC fighters are indeed heavily underpaid for their efforts in the cage. Despite the UFC contracts for fighters being plain and simple, fans all over the world argue that the fighters are not paid enough for how much traction they bring to the championship. Despite having a massive fan base, some fighters are still paid the same as middle-tier fighters. 

The biggest example of this phenomenon is the fact that the UFC only pays its fighters an abysmal 15-16% share of the total earned revenue from an event. 

Compared to other popular sports like the NBA or the NFL, the difference is huge. Those athletes get paid as much as 50% of the total earned revenue from an event! One of the most underpaid fighters was, of course, the Irish legend, Conor McGregor. His saving grace was his many endorsements and his very own Proper 12 Irish Whiskey brand. 

Another example of UFC fighters being underpaid is the rematch between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir at the UFC 100 in July 2009. 

That match went on to become one of the top three biggest events in UFC history in terms of a PPV event. The event brought in 1.6 million viewers who bought PPV packages for $44.95 each. Despite the insane amount of revenue that UFC banked on that day, which was $71 million to be exact, the fighters were given basically nothing.

Despite the $71 million earned from the rematch event, Frank Mir went home with only $45,000 for his efforts. On the other hand, Brock Lesnar went home with $400,000 as he won the match, but it is still abysmal considering the total earned revenue. With Brock Lesnar being such a big superstar in the UFC, did he not deserve a little more than $400,000 for the amount of fans he brought in with PPV?

Needless to say, the UFC fighter pay topic is controversial. However, more famous fighters are offered great endorsements and go on to make their own brands, making their money this way. For this reason, fans of the UFC know that the sport will still prevail as the most popular MMA championship out there and they will continue to support it.

FAQs About UFC Pay and Contracts

How much do UFC fighters earn per fight?

On average, UFC fighters earn anywhere between $80,000 to $500,000 per fight. This depends completely on how well-known they are as a fighter and their fanbase.

What is the minimum pay for a UFC fighter?

The minimum pay for a UFC fighter is $10,000 per fight. On top of that, they are able to earn additional cash prizes by winning or from awards.

Do UFC fighters have contracts?

Yes, UFC fighters have contracts that they have to sign to start competing in the championship. These contracts are simple and straightforward, pretty much setting up the way for their career as a UFC fighter ahead.

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.