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How much money do UFC referees make?

Herb Dean stopping the fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov
Herb Dean stopping the fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov
Modified 28 Dec 2020, 17:30 IST

The top UFC referees get paid up to $1500 per fight but receive more money for title fights and main-events. According to a report in Sportekz, referees earn as high as $10,000 for 'big-fights'.

Referees can be seen stepping into the Octagon two to three times in a single event. However, the general pay in bigger promotions fluctuates between $1000 - $1500 per fight.

This is a big step from when John McCarthy revealed he was paid just $1,900 to call the iconic clash between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. Herb Dean, who is arguably the most recognizable official, reportedly earns close to $400,000 a year. 

Speaking of how much he was paid for the Aldo/McGregor fight on his podcast, McCarthy said:

"Nevada pays more for a championship fight than any state pays any official so that $1,900 is the most you’re going to see. Thank you very much, Nevada. It’s very nice of you to give us that much. I appreciate it."

Most UFC referees work cross-promotions and might hold other day jobs. Referees who are just starting out get paid up to $300 in the United States.

Kenny Bayless reportedly made $25,000 for officiating the boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, highlighting the pay difference between Boxing referees and UFC referees.

UFC Referees and their salaries

Refereeing is an important part of any sport, but in Martial Arts and Combat Sports, this importance is magnified. A Referee is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the fighters from taking unnecessary damage. In short, a fighter puts his or her life in the hands of the Referee. 


However, it is not an exact science. UFC referees are often criticised for stopping fights too soon or too late by pundits, fans and ex-fighters alike. 

 Referee Dan Miragliotta
 Referee Dan Miragliotta

While popular and recognizable referees may be few and far between, the UFC have a big pool to choose from. According to Tapology, UFC used the services of 35 referees in 2020.

Herb Dean officiated the most fights out of all the UFC referees at 75, closely followed by Jason Herzog, who was the third man in 60 fights. Mark Smith was in charge of the action in 57 fights, Chris Tognoni in 50, and Marc Goddard and Dan Miragliotta both officiated 35 UFC fights each.

Published 28 Dec 2020, 17:29 IST
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