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5 fighters who have got massive paydays from the UFC

Conor McGregor is the UFC
Conor McGregor is the UFC's highest-paid star.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 01 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

From its humble beginnings back in the early 1990s, the UFC is now a sporting juggernaut worth several billion dollars.

As the UFC’s worth has increased, so have their payouts to their top fighters, with several of them making millions of dollars in fight purses. Sure, the UFC can be criticised for not paying its fighters enough, but the following five stars could hardly complain about their paycheques.

On that note, here are five fighters who've got big paydays from the UFC:


#1 Conor McGregor – UFC 257

Conor McGregor reportedly made well over $30m for his loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.
Conor McGregor reportedly made well over $30m for his loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.

Largely thanks to his massive drawing power, Conor McGregor is comfortably the highest-paid UFC star of all time.

‘The Notorious One’ not only makes mega-money from the UFC when it comes to his basic purse – which has been well over $1m since his 2015 victory over Jose Aldo. He also takes a percentage of any pay-per-view sales that the UFC brings in from shows he headlines.

UFC 257, which took place this January at Abu Dhabi’s ‘Fight Island’ facility, stands as McGregor’s reported highest payout to date.

Not only did the Irishman receive a reported $5m in base pay from the UFC for his clash with Dustin Poirier – the promotion’s highest payout in its history – he also took a cut of the pay-per-view sales.

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Conor McGregor reportedly made around $30m in total for his efforts against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 – a pay-per-view that drew around 1.3 million buys.

But with UFC 257 reportedly drawing around 1.6 million buys and McGregor’s base rate even higher, the likelihood is that he may well have made upwards of $35m for his loss to Poirier, a figure that stands as the biggest payout in UFC history.

Of course, that total still pales in comparison to McGregor’s payout for his 2017 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. That fight was reported to have earned ‘The Notorious One’ around $130m.


#2 Dustin Poirier – UFC 257

Dustin Poirier made serious money for his recent win over Conor McGregor.
Dustin Poirier made serious money for his recent win over Conor McGregor.

There’s a reason why Dustin Poirier was more content to chase a fight with Conor McGregor than he was to go for the UFC Lightweight title. That’s because of the money on the table.

Poirier reportedly earned around $370k for his June 2020 UFC win over Dan Hooker, which is a pretty solid number when it comes to the UFC’s base payouts.

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However, for his recent clash with McGregor at UFC 257, Poirier was reportedly guaranteed a cool $1m base pay from the UFC, nearly three times the base pay he received for the Hooker fight.

Moreover, ‘The Diamond’ also pocketed an extra $50k in the form of a Performance of the Night bonus as well as a cut of the pay-per-view revenue from the show, which likely pushed his pay into the multi-millions.

Considering the same, it’s hardly a surprise Poirier was so desperate to push for a trilogy fight with McGregor later on in 2021!


#3 Khabib Nurmagomedov – UFC 254

Khabib Nurmagomedov apparently made more than $6m for his win over Justin Gaethje in 2020.
Khabib Nurmagomedov apparently made more than $6m for his win over Justin Gaethje in 2020.

Khabib Nurmagomedov was long recognised as one of the most talented fighters in UFC history. But it wasn’t until his 2018 feud with Conor McGregor that he became a truly bankable star.

Following his victory over the Irishman at UFC 229, ‘The Eagle’ became widely recognised as one of the UFC’s top drawing cards, and so his payouts swiftly increased.

The pay-per-view buy-rate for UFC 242 – which saw Nurmagomedov defend his UFC Lightweight title against Dustin Poirier – was not revealed. But it was reported that ‘The Eagle’ earned somewhere around $6m for his efforts.

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That number likely increased for his October 2020 clash with Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Khabib was reportedly paid a base payout of $3m by the UFC for the fight, as well as a $50k performance bonus.

UFC 254 reportedly drew a large number of pay-per-view buys – 500k in the US and an additional 175k internationally.

Given that Nurmagomedov – like most of the UFC’s biggest stars – receives a cut of the UFC’s pay-per-view revenue for shows he headlines, that $6 million number is likely to have increased substantially for this show.


#4 Brock Lesnar – UFC 200

Brock Lesnar returned to the UFC in 2016 and made big money for his efforts.
Brock Lesnar returned to the UFC in 2016 and made big money for his efforts.

When the UFC decided to bring back former UFC Heavyweight champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, it came at a hefty cost.

Lesnar was already one of the highest-paid fighters in UFC history during his initial run with the promotion from 2008 to 2011. He received a base pay of $250k for his UFC debut against Frank Mir and picked up $475k for his win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116, as well as a cut of the show’s pay-per-view revenue.

However, that payout increased hugely for his return fight against Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in 2016.

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Reportedly, Lesnar received a base payout of $2.5 million for his win over the New Zealand-based strike and likely picked up far more through his cut of the show’s 1 million pay-per-view buys.

Lesnar found himself in hot water following the fight, as he tested positive for the banned substance Clomiphene and was subsequently suspended from competing by USADA.

However, the $250k fine slapped on him by the Nevada State Athletic Commission would hardly have made a dent in the huge pay cheque he banked for his efforts.


#5 Ronda Rousey – UFC 207

Ronda Rousey is the highest-paid female fighter in UFC history.
Ronda Rousey is the highest-paid female fighter in UFC history.

Unlike other sports, the UFC doesn’t seem to discriminate between the sexes when it comes to payouts. And so it should come as no surprise that Ronda Rousey ranks amongst the highest-paid UFC stars of all time.

Rousey was a huge pay-per-view draw during her run with the UFC, with two of her headlined shows drawing more than a million buys on pay-per-view.

One of those shows – UFC 207 – saw her face Amanda Nunes in what would turn out to be Rousey’s final UFC fight. ‘Rowdy Ronda’ was knocked out by Nunes in the clash, but she still made plenty of money for her efforts.

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Reportedly, Ronda Rousey was paid a disclosed fight purse of $3 million, which was at the time the joint-highest payout in UFC history. Incredibly, that payout was 30 times higher than the $100k Nunes was guaranteed for the fight.

Given that Ronda Rousey also received a cut of the pay-per-view revenue for the show, the likelihood is that she made well over her base pay, too.

Published 01 Apr 2021, 15:28 IST
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