MMA can be an exciting and often gut-wrenching experience for both the fighters in the Octagon and their fans. The fame, riches and glamor are what attract fighters to the sport, yet only a fraction actually sign profitable contracts, lucrative sponsorship deals, and get to enjoy the limelight of professional fighting. Much like the gladiators of ancient Rome, MMA fighters must not only be good, they must also be popular and appeal to the hungry crowds. This is what truly makes an MMA champion and nets them their large earnings. In this list, we go over four of the biggest earners in MMA history.
The eight-time former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has one of the longest winning streaks in the sport, and is also one of the few fighters to have never been knocked out in a fight. His last 9 fights earned him over $400,000 per fight, not including bonuses, PPV points and sponsorship money. Over a career spanning 18 fights, Jones has earned over $4,875,000 in disclosed purses alone, with the Reebok sponsorship bringing that figure upwards of $5 million (not including PPV, undisclosed earning or performance bonuses). Unfortunately, despite his many accomplishments, personal controversy and doping charges, have made him the only fighter in history to be stripped of his titles three consecutive times.
Daniel Ryan Cormier
The 39-year-old former Olympic wrestler turned MMA fighter, Daniel Cormier, has a career total of just over $4.3 million in UFC earnings. His most lucrative fight was his second fight against Jon Jones, where Cormier received $1 million to show and $40K from his Reebok sponsorship deal (not including PPV and out of the Octagon bonuses). Although he technically lost the fight, the ruling was later overturned due to Jones’ positive testing for a banned substance. Cormier is a gifted fighter who has won over many fans with his attitude. The Bleacher Report writes that Cormier is after competitive glories rather than easy pay days. He is the kind of fighter who lets his actions do the talking and is the epitome of the hard-working athlete. His next fight against Stipe Miocic will be a defining moment in his career and will make him a legend, if he isn’t one already.
Sitting at the top of the UFC earnings ladder is Irish UFC former featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor. In only 10 years, from the start of his career in 2008, McGregor has a UFC career total of over $9.5 million, including a sponsorship with Reebok. The much publicized and televised boxing match against Floyd Mayweather netted him a whopping $30 million and was viewed by an estimated 50 million people worldwide, according to an ESPN feature. A rare event, bringing both MMA and boxing disciplines together, it attracted lots of celebrities to the red carpet gala including prominent sports stars LeBron James, Mike Tyson, and Amir Khan as reported by Entertainment Daily. Although McGregor lost the fight, he’s still considered as one of the best fighters out there.
The American born, Croatian fighter, is the reigning heavyweight champion since 2016. As we previously mentioned on MMA Hits he has been dubbed the “baddest man on the planet” and with good reason; Miocic has successfully defended his title three times, holding the record for most successful consecutive title defenses in UFC heavyweight history. His total career earnings, including Reebok sponsorship are upwards of $2.8 million (not including PPV, undisclosed earnings or bonuses) with the last three title defenses netting him over $700,000 per night including his purse, Reebok sponsorship, and fight night bonuses. Miocic’s next title defense against Daniel Cormier in July of this year is sure to net both men a substantial purse.