UFC, MMA FIGHTING & Combat Sports Life (2023)

Forever and a day, fighters pay has always been a hot topic for debate. In bygone years, stories of young up and coming boxers being paid barely enough to cover the cost of their local hotel stay come fight night, by their promoters, were commonplace. With combatants risking life and limb to put on a spectacular show for the fans. From the outside looking in, it seemed very much as though these athletes were being taken for a ride, budget airline-style.

Rollon several decades and the sport of mixed martial arts or MMA, under the careful stewardship of Zuffa LLC with it’s President Dana White at the public helm. Became the fastest-growing, most talked about combat sports promotion since the inception of boxing itself.

Surely this combat sport, designed and built for the new Millenium would treat their fighters better than those who had come before? For the boxers that had built their sport and the promoters that had made millions off of their blood sweat and tears, new era, new rules? Not quite.

MMA like boxing has for the most part seen a continuation very in the same vein. Sure there have been some developments along the way in terms of how the promoting is now done. The slick edits for TV and quickly expanding online presence, the pre-fight fly on the wall behind the scenes all you can see, wanna see or would want to see, it’s all there.

As no stone is left unturned in the fight’s promotion, it’s as always very much down to the fighters to sell their fights. But as per usual, for the most part down to the promoters to pocket the lions share.

With massive gates, along with online streams, Pay per view buys and handpicked sponsorship deals. These fight promotions now run like regimented clockwork, week in week out, cranking out regular events. And I think that right now it would be fair to say that both boxing and MMA are healthier than they have ever been.

With promoters like the infamous Don King making a mockery of his fighters, most famously Mike Tyson. Skimming millions from their earnings and leaving them hanging out to dry. Now more than never, with the internet and social media offering people a direct line to the public, these types of scenarios should surely a thing of the past?

The UFC Big PayDay

With the biggest company sale in sports history, in 2017 the Ultimate Fighting Championships sold for over 4.25 billion dollars. It’s a testament to just how profitable MMA under Zuffa has become. With performance centres, gyms, national and international events, all under the banner of one company.

(Video) CTE: The Disturbing Cost Of Fighting | UFC And MMA Documentary

In just 15 short years, the UFC has gone from a crumbling promotion that was haemorrhaging money, to the biggest single sports company sale in history.

As Forbes reported that 2015 was a massively successful year for the company. With names like Conor McGregor becoming the biggest star in MMA

, perhaps in all sports. That very same year still did not see any of the UFC stars break into top 100 paid athletes list. With the vast majority of their fighters making enough to get by. While at the very same time the UFC continued to increase revenues and break new records.

UFC Fightpass Disruption

As internet speeds have steadily increased over time, so too have the number of services being made readily available. To a somewhat lukewarm reception in 2013, the subscription-based online streaming service UFC FightPass was launched. Its aim was to leverage away from the vice-like grip of the TV networks and take a larger cut of the PPV market share.

Today the service sits at the helm of the promotions offering, streaming many of it’s paid for and free events directly to its subscribers. Now offering a whole host of combat sporting events including kickboxing, submission grappling, Muay Thai and many more. The vision as set out by Zuffa and Dana White was for it to become;

“Netflix for fight fans”

(Video) The MMA Hour with Dominick Cruz, Ben Askren, Alistair Overeem, Alexa Grasso and More | Oct 19, 2022

UFC President Dana White (2013)

And now looking back, as the service continues to expand, few can say that this very vision has not indeed been realised. Even more to the point, others looking on from the sidelines have felt spurred on by what they see in their own space. And the huge potential gains that may come their way by jumping on the online streaming bandwagon.

But as the suite of services and corresponding profits continue to expand. What if anything has happened in terms of quantifiable changes in fighters purses? Does a rising tide lift all boats or just some? There’s no doubting that the sport has made some fighters very rich indeed. But in terms of numbers, it’s a small pool, a really small pool. And it terms of its combative cousin boxing, those numbers are not even comparable!

The sweet science, the gloved version of bare knuckle that ruled the roost up until the late 1800s? What goes, now that we have transparency, multiple streams of income, online streaming platforms and of course the much-coveted PPV buys? How are its main pugilists and protagonists fairing?

The Rise oF Dazn

Well, with companies such as the online sports streaming service DAZN also changing the face of the game in the boxing world. The move away from the traditional television networks model to an internet-driven service is becoming more pronounced by the day. While DAZN launched in 2016, it has taken its time to build up a full head of steam as it charges headfirst into the marketplace.

And with its expansion into the US in 2018, we finally see the service going mainstream. The company now finds itself in a market-leading position as it offers up a whole range of sports to its monthly subscriber base, with the sport of boxing very much at the forefront of its branding.

UFC, MMA FIGHTING & Combat Sports Life (1)

And with its growth, the sports streaming company has looked to capture its very own piece of the pie. With some audacious offers being made and money being paid.

It’s most publicised of which was the signing of multiple world champion 29-year-old (52-1-2, 35 KOs) Saul Canelo Alvarez on a five-year, 11-fight deal, for a reported $365 million, making him the single highest-paid athlete in world sport. Earning the Mexican superstar a minimum of $35 million every time he steps inside the ring.

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When Canelo took on WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in November 2019. DAZN confirmed a live gate worth some 8.173 million and a growing global subscriber base somewhere north of 4 million-plus. Offering yearly subscriptions at $99 or $19.99 per month.

Whether or not their business plan will pay dividends, in the long run, fails to be seen. But in terms of what they are offering their biggest star, the UFC pales in insignificance.

Who is the Bigger Global star, Conor McGregor or Canelo Alvarez?

So when it comes to disclosed purses and the biggest earners, you would have to ask yourself, who in recent years was the biggest star in combat sports. Is it boxings Saul Cancel Alvarez, or MMA Kingpin Conor McGregor? A simple litmus test would be to ask the average sports fan and I have very little doubt they would quickly reply UFC megastar, Conor McGregor!

McGregor took the MMA world by storm and in just a few short years became perhaps the biggest name in all sports, if only for a relatively short period. But no matter where you went, everyone was talking about the brash, marketers wet dream from Ireland. And while the UFC cashed in massively on McGregor’s success. How did the numbers stack up when it came to take-home pay?

McGregor vs Diaz

While McGregor reigned supreme as MMA’s biggest draw. It’s wasn’t truly until his first fight with Nate Diaz that he put himself on the map in terms of earnings. With their first fight at UFC 196 brining in 1.5 million PPV buys and a live gate of $8.1 million, the McGregor factor broke the UFC’s previous record numbers.

In the second of their fights, Conor McGregor earned a disclosed $3 million, plus his $100,000 win bonus. Along with a tiered slice of the 1.65 million PPV buys at $5 apiece. His opponent Nate Diaz earned an estimated $2 million, plus his own portion of the PPV buys. But nowhere near that of McGregor who was seen very much as the driving force in the record-breaking event.

McGregor vs Nurmagomedov

It wouldn’t be until UFC 229 when McGregor faced the reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. That yet another UFC PPV number of 2.5 million buys at $64.99 per buy would be set. Earning a reported $3 million for McGregor and $2 million for Nurmagomedov.

Boxing PPV paydays

But it would not be until his fight against boxing great Floyd Mayweather. That McGregor would see a kind of payday which no other fighter in his sport has or may ever see again. But it took a jaunt into the sport of boxing and Money Mayweather to multiply McGregor net worth. Earning him an unprecedented $85 million for a single fight, while Floyd pocketed a cool $265 million.

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While these numbers are very much the exception, it still does show us that when compared to MMA. There is at the very least much more money being paid to boxings biggest stars. A fascinating and insightful investigation by John S. Nash at bloodyelbow.com blew the argument that boxing pays better because it is a more lucrative sport.

Because while the promoters and lawyers alike claim a multitude of reasons leads to the discrepancies between the sports payouts. The UFC has, in fact, led the way, beating out boxing in terms of revenue over the last several years. With their Fox deal paying almost twice as much as that of HBO or Showtime and boxing.

And let’s not even go near the whole sponsorship conundrum. With UFC fighters tied into contracts under Reebok deals seeing main event payouts to Jorge Masvidal of $20,000 and another big name in Nate Diaz of just $20,000. While big-name boxers are hauling is deals sometimes worth several million.

What Next For Fighters Pay?

In any sport where the participants put their very lives on the line, the pay should reflect the danger involved. While many athletes around the world make massive money for kicking a ball or swinging a stick. It is truly only in sports such as mixed martial arts, boxing and the like in which the athlete’s immediate health is directly in the firing line.

With so many of the greatest nights in sporting history being as a direct result of fighters risking it all. How or even will we see a more even playing field materialise in the years to come. Which reflects the risks for relatively little reward for most of the protagonists. It’s a convoluted and confusing situation, purposely, in which we as fans want to see the very best for the athletes involved.

And with talk of fighters unions coming and going like the seasons. Should we hold out any hope for a situation that would see fighters receiving their well earned just deserts? Is it too much to hope for that finally, after so many years of these great athletes being treated very unfairly.

That a more equal and honourable settlement is finally achieved. And that fighters do finally see all their hard work paying off. Let’s hope so and keep pushing to see it happen.

Images courtesy of dazn.com

(Video) The MMA Hour with Jiri Prochazka, Petr Yan, Javier Mendez, John Hathaway and More | Oct 17, 2022

T: twitter.com/MMAmicks

83 / 100


Who is No 1 UFC fighter? ›

Alexander Volkanovski

When did Zuffa buy UFC? ›

According to UFC president Dana White, the policy was a goal of the company since Zuffa first purchased the UFC in 2001. In addition UFC chairman and CEO, Lorenzo Fertitta stated that the policy took three years to establish while trying to find possible insurers.

Does Dana White own UFC? ›

Dana White is a name synonymous with the UFC but does he own it? Well, in a word, no. He's the current president as well as a shareholder of the UFC but he isn't technically the owner of the MMA organization.

Why is UFC so popular? ›

Thrilling and Unpredictable to Watch

One of the main reasons why the UFC is so popular all over the world is because of how entertaining it is to watch. It is a sport where the underdog only needs one lucky shot against their opponent, meaning it can be all to play for. You'll find yourself on the edge of your seat!

Who is the richest UFC fighter? ›

20 Highest Paid UFC Fighters
  • Conor McGregor is the highest-paid UFC fighter.
  • They pocketed at least $5 million.
7 Sept 2022

Who has the best UFC record ever? ›

Title Fight Wins
  • Jon Jones 14.
  • Georges St-Pierre 13.
  • Demetrious Johnson 12.
  • Anderson Silva 11.
  • Amanda Nunes 10.
  • Matt Hughes 9.
  • Randy Couture 8.

What is Dana White's salary? ›

How to contact Dana White?
Net Worth$500 million
Salary$20 million
3 more rows

Who owns the most of UFC? ›

Endeavor holds a 50.1% stake in the mixed martial arts promotion. The UFC is the company's biggest income generator. According to a report by wayofmartialarts.com, the rest of the promotion's 49.9% stakes are split between Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital.

Who did Dana White buy UFC from? ›

Founded in 1993, the U.F.C. was bought in 2001 for $2 million by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, brothers who owned Station Casinos and were childhood friends of White, whom they immediately put in charge.

How much do UFC fighters get paid? ›

So, there is a lot of question about how, and how much do UFC fighters get paid. The average UFC fighter made $160,022 in 2021, up from average earnings of $146,673 in 2020. 256 fighters (42%) earned six-figures in 2021, up from 219 fighters (38%) in 2020.

How much is UFC worth? ›

According to a report by FanSided, the world's biggest mixed martial arts promotion, the UFC, is worth around $9-10 billion. The promotion reportedly generated a revenue of approximately $1 billion in just the first quarter of 2022. The company also generated upwards of $1 billion during the pandemic stricken 2021.

Does Joe Rogan still work for UFC? ›

At age 55, Rogan works far fewer events these days than he did in the past, but he still serves as the lead color commentator for the majority of UFC's domestic pay-per-views and his voice remains a familiar part of many of the most memorable moments in the sport.

Why UFC is the best sport? ›

Its development as a sport has also made it perhaps the most realistic system for real-life self-defense situations. MMA fighters are also being recognized as some of the best athletes in all of sports with their discipline, life stories, and respect for others as martial artists.

Why do people get into MMA? ›

MMA training teaches fighters discipline.

MMA training teaches its practitioners to grow both physically and mentally in a non-combat environment. MMA fighters are very balanced and disciplined people with a great philosophy towards life. That's because MMA teaches discipline of the body and mind.

Why do people enjoy fighting sports? ›

This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view, as those who honed these skills were more likely to survive when faced with a real-world conflict. Watching combat sports such as boxing and wrestling is an extension of that habit, with all the thrill but none of the personal danger.

How much do female UFC fighters make? ›

Highest Paid Women Fighters In UFC
No #FightersPer Fight Earning
1Julianna Pena$500,000
2Amanda Nunes$500,000
3Rose Namajunas$500,000
4Valentina Shevchenko$500,000
6 more rows
19 Jan 2022

Who has the least losses in UFC? ›

Khabib Nurmagomedov, a native of the Russian Republic of Dagestan and the first Muslim to capture a UFC championship, tops the list of undefeated MMA fighters of all-time. He was born on September 20, 1988, and retired with 29 victories and zero defeats.

Who won most UFC title? ›

Demetrious Johnson – 11 title defenses

Johnson began his reign in the flyweight title reign in 2012 after beating Joseph Benavidez via split decision at UFC 152.

Who has the most takedowns in UFC history? ›

Georges St-Pierre is leading the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in most takedowns landed as of March 2022, followed by Gleison Tibau with 84 takedowns and Demetrious Johnson with 74 takedowns during UFC fights.

How much does the UFC pay Joe Rogan? ›

Joe Rogan receives a basic fee of $5,000 for covering a UFC bout. The PPV fees add $50,000. Annually, Joe Rogan UFC salary amounts to $550,000.

What is Joe Rogan's salary? ›

He's getting around $90 million a year for his show on SiriusXM. And it looks like Joe's getting somewhere between $20 - $40 million dollars a year.

Who is Conor McGregor net worth? ›

As of October 2022, Conor McGregor's net worth is $200 Million, making him the richest MMA fighter in the world.

What is not allowed in UFC? ›

Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh. Kicking and knee-striking the head of a grounded opponent (see Soccer kick) Stomping an opponent on the ground. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his or her head or neck (see Piledriver)

Why did Dana White sell the UFC? ›

After managing fighters such as Tito Ortiz who fought for the UFC at the time, White caught wind of the promotion's financial struggles and suggested buying the failing brand to the Fertitta brothers.

Are headbutts allowed in UFC? ›

Headbutting is illegal in UFC because it's considered to be too dangerous of a manoeuvre, especially when it results in a clash of heads. It can easily result in a head trauma or concussion.

Does the UFC pay medical bills? ›

For UFC fighters, there is no compensation for their injuries, but rather an early retirement from the sport—without benefits. They pay out-of-pocket to treat their injuries and often, are unable to obtain treatment at all. The sport of mixed martial arts is young and its rise in popularity has been meteoric.

Does Disney own the UFC? ›

Two years later, Disney's ESPN paid $1.5 billion for UFC TV rights in a five-year deal. That deal immediately increased the value of UFC to $7 billion, according to UFC CEO Dana White. Disney's ESPN+ also signed a $150 million per year deal to stream UFC fights in an agreement that runs out in 2025.

Who's the best UFC fighter 2022? ›

UFC Women's Pound-for-Pound Rankings 2022
1Amanda Nunes22–5
2Valentina Shevchenko23–3
3Julianna Peña11–5
4 (T)Rose Namajunas11–5
11 more rows
13 Oct 2022

Who is best fighter of all time? ›

1. Muhammad Ali. The Greatest was not only one of the best heavyweights of all time, he was also one of the most colorful. He won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics and went on to become the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times.

Who is undefeated in UFC? ›

List of undefeated mixed martial artists
Khabib NurmagomedovMale29–0 (8 KO, 11 SUB)
Yaroslav AmosovMale26–0 (9 KO, 10 SUB)
Khusein AskhabovMale23–0 (6 KO, 10 SUB)
Movlid KhaybulaevMale19–0–1 (1 NC, 6 KO, 2 SUB)
76 more rows

Is khabib the greatest UFC fighter? ›

UFC president Dana White has ranked four fighters ahead of Khabib Nurmagomedov in the 'best ever' debate - including Kamaru Usman and Jon Jones. The Russian star reigned undefeated during his time in the UFC's lightweight division and has entered some people's mind as the greatest ever fighter in the promotion.

Who is the best pound for pound UFC fighter of all time? ›

Jose Aldo is the most dominant fighter in the history of UFC featherweight rankings. The Brazilian striking phenom destroyed many fighters in his 145-pound career.

Who is the best boxer in the world 2022? ›

Terrence Crawford

He has an incredibly impressive record with 38 wins and 0 losses. He was the first man to defeat Gamboa and was way too good for Kell Brook and Shawn Porter. All boxing fans want to see Crawford fight the undefeated welterweight champion, Errol Spence.

Is UFC a boxing? ›

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Who is the goat of MMA? ›

Many fans and analysts consider Nurmagomedov to be the greatest MMA fighter in history – the “G.O.A.T.” He went 13-0 in the UFC with seven finishes and won four title fights. He also hung up his gloves when he was only 32 – so there always will be questions about just how much more he could have done.

Who is the No 1 martial artist in the world? ›

1. Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee is ranked first among the top 10 martial artists in the world in 2021. Lee Jun-fan (27 November 1940 - 20 July 1973) was a Chinese martial art performer, star, film maker, martial art teacher, and philosopher.

Who has the strongest punch in the world? ›

'" Ngannou holds the record for the hardest punch ever landed at 129,161 units, with Dana White putting that figure into real-life situations.

Who has defeated khabib? ›

In fact, he has lost only two rounds (1 against Conor McGregor and 1 against Justin Gaethje) in his entire UFC career. However, Nurmagomedov's ex-coach and the head coach of the American Kickboxing Academy Javier Mendez recently revealed Islam Makhachev has defeated the former champion several times in sparring.

Who is never defeated in MMA? ›

Khamzat Chimaev | Record: 11-0-0

The 28-year-old Swedish man, who goes by the moniker "Borz," has never lost a fight. Khamzat previously participated in the Brave Combat Federation (Brave CF).

Is there a UFC Fighter with no losses? ›

Khamzat Chimaev, 9-0-0. Five TKO's plus three submissions equals eight career wins for Khamzat Chimaev. Known as “Borz,” the 26 year old from Sweden has never lost a fight.

Who is the goat of boxing? ›

Three-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali is considered one of the world's greatest boxers. His professional record of 56 wins and five losses is unprecedented.

Who is the best female UFC fighter? ›

1. Amanda Nunes. As the reigning champion of the women's Bantamweight and Featherweight category of the UFC, she succeeded to be the first woman to become a two-weight class UFC champion.

Has khabib ever lost fight? ›

Nurmagomedov was inducted into UFC Hall of Fame on June 30, 2022. With 29 wins and no losses, he retired with an undefeated record.


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