Remember on Friends when Monica thought her billionaire boyfriend Pete—played by Jon Favreau—was going to propose to her because he said he had something “really big” to tell her, but really he was just going to say he would be competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship? Well, if you do, then you know back in 1997, the UFC was so bush-league that they were willing to make themselves the punchline of a joke just to get their name out there.
My how times have changed. Today, the MMA isn’t some obscure, underground sport for blood-thirsty weirdos and eccentric billionaires. It’s the the fastest-growing sport in the world. Many of the UFC’s fighters are household names, and MMA has usurped boxing as America’s combat sport of choice.
That being said, it doesn’t mean MMA fighters are as rich as boxers. Only a handful of the best fighters are making seriously big bucks, and none of those guys have earned as much in their careers as Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes in a single fight. So UFC president Dana White can expect some pushback in the near future as guys come to their senses and realize they need to be earning a bigger piece of the pie.
But how do these guys earn the money they do get? Well, the guys low on the totem poll just get paid for fighting and (if they’re lucky) winning. However, the better an MMA fighter is, the more opportunities he gets to earn cash.
In the UFC, for example, the big guys have exclusive contracts that give them a share of the Pay Per View revenues—usually something like $1 or $2 per buy, which can add up. Then there are sponsorship deals, which can mean anything from endorsing a product in commercials to wearing a company’s logo during a fight.
Want to see how much your favorite fighter is worth? Perfect. Click on those arrows and take a look.