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 the biggest earners in MMA history.
20. Israel Adesanya (Net Worth $2 Million)
Out of every entry on this list, Israel Adesanya likely has the biggest chance of substantially changing his financial position. He is one of the hottest new stars in the UFC, and has real potential of growing into a crossover sensation.
At the time of writing, “Stylebender” is still early in his run as UFC middleweight champion. Provided that he can get past his next round of challengers, he has a superfight with Jon Jones looming. These all show that he has a lot of room to grow, as long as he can keep being successful.
19. Max Holloway (Net Worth $2 Million)
Fan-favorite and former UFC Featherweight champ, Max Holloway fought some of the best the sport has ever seen. This has put the Hawaiian in some pretty marquee spots over the years.
In his time as champ, Max got to score some serious PPV points, being a part of big events. This earned him a good amount of cash throughout the process. As a result, he has landed at number 19 on our list.
18. Michael Chandler (Net Worth $2 Million)
When thinking of Bellator fighters, a few names come to mind. However few have had the same amount of success in the organization that Michael Chandler has receieved.
Chandler is the three-time Bellator Lightweight champ, and is as close to a home grown talent the organization has. He has been with the company for a decade, since his fourth pro fight. This loyalty has earned him some of the highest pay that Bellator can afford to dish out.
17. Colby Covington (Net Worth $2 Million)
Former interim welterweight champ, Colby Covington is a polarizing figure to say the least. However that has not stopped him from earning some serious dough in the UFC.
Covington has been on the UFC’s roster for several years. Yet he really began to make noise as his trash talking antics and political viewpoints earned him fans and haters alike. He was stripped of his interim title before he got to use those PPV points, but he has still managed to earn a decent amount of money in the sport.
16. TJ Dillashaw (Net Worth $3 Million)
The legacy of TJ Dillashaw may have taken a hit over the last few years. Nevertheless he has cashed in on some huge events, and earned stacks along the way.
As a two-time champ in the UFC’s bantamweight division, TJ has been able to secure some pretty lucrative contracts. Even though it ended pretty badly, he did attempt to earn the coveted champ-champ status, which surely would have gotten him a raise. Regardless he has made enough money to end up on our list.
15. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (Net Worth 3.5 Million)
Arguably one of the best strikers in women’s MMA, Joanna Jedrzejczyk became a favorite among fans for her kind heart. However it was her violent style that earned her a ton of money.
Joanna has not had the most amount of finishes in her UFC tenure. Nevertheless she has a style that sees her pushing the pace on her opponents in an exciting way. As a result she has earned favor with the organization, which has translated into decent paydays.
14. Stipe Miocic (Net Worth $4 Million)
Two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic moonlights as a firefighter, at the same time as being the baddest man on the planet. However that is clearly not because he needs the extra cash.
Many people feel that Stipe is the best heavyweight of all time, and his lay structure seems to reflect those sentiments. He has had major headlining roles, defending his title against multiple people. These PPV points made him one of the highest earners in the sport.
13. Anthony Pettis (Net Worth $4 Million)
There was a time that Anthony Pettis was one of the most recognizable faces in MMA. This came from his infamous “Showtime Kick” highlight, as well as being the first fighter to be on a Wheaties box.
Although the latter stages of his career have been hot and cold, Pettis is always in big spots. He regularly headlines Fight Night cards, and is in featured spots on PPV events. This exposure has put some money in the bank.
12. Valentina Shevchenko (Net Worth $5 Million)
To put it frankly, there would likely be no women’s flyweight division in the UFC, if not for Valentina Shevchenko. The UFC realized her potential, and decided to accommodate her accordingly.
Although she was not the first champ in the division, Valentina won the title shortly thereafter. Since then she has looked completely dominant, raking in several title defenses. Not only that, but she has been able to stack up on some money too.
11. Cris Cyborg (Net Worth $5 Million)
Even though Cris Cyborg did not get along with Dana White, she is still one of the best female fighters ever. She has fought in most major promotions, and has increased her value along the way.
In her prime, Cyborg blew through her competition. Even in her recent Bellator debut she was able to keep up that same energy, capturing their featherweight strap. All of these quick finishes has earned her quite a reputation, and some decent cash along the way.
10. Demetrious Johnson (Net Worth $6 Million)
Up there along the greatest fighters of all time, Demetrious Johnson has more title defenses than anyone in UFC history. Even after his groundbreaking trade to ONE Championships, he is still able to earn a good amount of dough.
Not all of DJ’s money comes from his fighting career, though. He has been actively involved in video gaming, and E-Sports, notably earning a sponsorship with Xbox. So when he is not stacking up title belts, he is working the side hustle of streaming games.
9. Daniel Cormier (Net Worth $6 Million)
As an Olympic caliber athlete and former UFC champ-champ, Daniel Cormier is one of theost accomplished athletes in all of MMA. This, combined with some of the enormous fights he has had, makes him one of the sport’s biggest earners.
Not only is DC a massively accomplished fighter, but he has a ton of gigs outside of the cage too. He is regularly seen in the commentary booth, as well as additional programs. This means that even when he retires soon, he will still have a consistent way of earning income.
8. Nate Diaz (Net Worth $8 Million)
For most of his career, Nate Diaz was largely underpaid, especially given the names he faced. However that all changed, after one big opportunity he took on short notice.
Diaz shocked the world by stepping up to fight Conor McGregor (more on him later), on just a few week’s notice, submitting the then-featherweight champ. From there his popularity skyrocketed, as did his paychecks. Now he has headlined some massive cards, earning multiple massive paydays, making him one of the sport’s richest fighters.
7. Donald Cerrone (Net Worth $9 Million)
If this list were about the most game fighters in the world, there is no doubt that Donald Cerrone would sit at number one. He is the epitome of “anytime, anywhere, anyone,” and has a slew of records for his efforts.
Among the list of “Cowboy’s” accolades, he holds the most wins and most finishes in the UFC. As a result, he has amassed a ton of post fight bonuses. Combine this with his overall number of fights taken, and it is no surprise that he has earned a ton of cash.
6. Jose Aldo (Net Worth $9 Million)
A true legend in the sport, Jose Aldo is arguably the greatest 145lb fighter in history. He accomplished this by becoming the inaugural UFC featherweight champion, and defending that title seven times.
Although the latter stages of his career has seen less success, he has still been featured in some pretty big fights. He has positioned himself as a star in Brazil, and as such is a valuable asset to the UFC. Therefore he has been able to cash in some pretty solid checks.
5. Jon Jones (Net Worth $10 Million)
Considered to be one of the greatest talents the sport of MMA has ever seen, Jon Jones has more title wins than anyone in UFC history. Naturally this kind of success leads to big sponsorships, and even bigger money.
However Jon’s career has been riddled with controversy, both in and out of the cage. These issues have led to loss of aforementioned sponsors, as well as large periods of inactivity. Ultimately this is what has him at this spot on the list, instead of higher up.
4. Alistair Overeem (Net Worth $15.5 Million)
It may be surprising to see Alistair Overeem as our number five entry, given the fact he has never won a UFC title. That being said, he has been able to negotiate his way to making nearly $1 million per fight, largely due to his veteran status.
Over the years, the Reem has faced the best of the best in the heavyweight division in MMA for nearly a decade. His record has been mixed, but he earned his way to a title shot in 2016. Even though he ultimately came up short, he has seen enough success in the sport to be financially set for life.
3. Anderson Silva: (Net Worth $18 Million)
Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva was super dominating in his prime. He is regarded as one of the best fighters in the UFC history.
Silva won UFC gold in 2006, and didn’t lose any fight for roughly seven years. Then, on July 6, 2013, Chris Weidman defeated him via TKO in the second round, and finally ended the longest title reign in UFC history. Anderson became a huge draw on PPV and netted several million over the course of his MMA career. He also earned massive endorsement deals with Nike, Burger King, and other blue-chip brands.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (Net Worth $100 Million)
Due to injuries and other issues, it took a long time for Khabib Nurmagomedov to rise through the ranks of the lightweight division. Nevertheless he persevered, and made it to his title bout at UFC 223, where he beat Al Iaquinta to win the strap.
Since then, Khabib has racked up several title defenses, as well as the PPV points from being the champ. This, coupled with the fact that he had the number one selling PPV of all time, alongside our number one entry, and it is no surprise he is on this list.
1. Conor McGregor (Net Worth $120 Million)
The least surprising entry on our list just so happens to be the number one earner. Conor McGregor is without a doubt, the most famous fighter the UFC has ever seen.
McGregor stormed into the UFC in 2013, exploding in popularity as he capture the interim featherweight title, before unifying that title, then moving to lightweight to become the UFC’s first ever “Champ-Champ.” Additionally, he followed this up with a legendary boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, where he earned nine figures.
This, combined with his popular whiskey brand, and the fact that he holds the records for all of the top selling PPV’s in the sport, makes the former champ an easy call for the richest fighter in all of MMA.
What did you think of our list? Was there anyone that surprised you?