Is MMA (UFC) More Popular Than Boxing?

UFC vs Boxing Money: Who Does Earn More?

Boxing was once the King of the fighting sports, but in the last decade (or more) MMA or better to say UFC, is slowly, but surely, taking over. So who is the King now? UFC vs boxing money – which fighters earn more?

For now, at least, boxers make more money then UFC fighters. But, things could change rapidly.

In this article, we will explain the main differences between earning in boxing, and earnings in MMA (UFC). As you will see, famous boxers earn more money than most famous UFC fighters, but less known boxers are not so lucky. Also, in the future, changes are inevitable.

How Much do Boxers Earn?

There is a huge difference between boxers who’re just starting to do boxing and those that already took the world title.

Boxing professionals, in the beginning, are not someone’s employees and don’t have a regular salary but are paid per fight. The manager negotiates and arranges their rivals, the fights they perform at, the conditions…, and the earnings range from a few hundred dollars per fight to millions. Many boxers fight for only $200 per fight, so they have to have another job to have enough to live on, especially since some injury that throws them out of training and fighting greatly affects their earnings.

The classic minimum for fights does not exist, earnings depend on the event, but most boxers earn less than the average salary of professional athletes, which according to a 2012 survey was $ 40,060 a year.

On the other hand, top boxers are among the highest-paid athletes in the world. So Floyd Mayweather got $150 million to fight Manny Pacquiao, and Pacquiao got $100 million for the same fight. [1]

Other fighters received at least $60,000 at this event in the bout. Of course, much of the money for top fights comes from the percentage of TV coverage and pay-per-view packages.

Boxers pay for themselves – insurance, travel, training, etc. – and they usually give the coach ten percent of the salary, and a certain percentage to the manager, in Nevada, for example, a third of the salary.

Basically, considering all the categories and federations, the average salary of world champions per fight is between two and five million dollars. Other boxers earn between $22,000 and $51,370 a year.

Here are a few examples of how big fights change boxing earnings. Anthony Joshua made his first serious profit by defeating Vladimir Klitschko – $20 million. Then, $25 million for the victory over Povjetkin, $25 were waiting for him if Jarrell Miller did not fail the doping test…, but before Klitschko, in the first 18 fights of his career, although he also defeated Dillian Whyte, Dominic Breazeale, and just the fight before Klitschko, Eric Molina, Joshua was far from such, serious earnings.

Or take the example of Andy Ruiz: The man earned $7 million to win against Joshua in New York, then he got ten million dollars for a rematch. And the fight before the demolition of Joshua was done for – $200,000! Although at the time he had a professional performance of 32-1!

Top 10 Highest Paid Boxers in History

10. Marvin Hagler – $45 million

9. Muhammad Ali – $50 million

8. Anthony Joshua: $60 Million

7. Vitali Klitschko – $65 million

6. Ray Charles Leonard – $120 million

5. Lennox Lewis – $135 million

4. Manny Pacquiao – $200 million

3. Oscar De La Hoya – $200 million

2. George Foreman – $300 million

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. – $560 million

How Much do MMA/UFC Fighters earn?

MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world today, and the popularity of the UFC and it’s fighters has skyrocketed over the years. So, even though their main fighters are not as paid as the biggest names in boxing, their payments are rising, but also, lesser-known fighters earn more in the UFC then small independent boxers.

The average amount of money an MMA fighter in the UFC makes is $146,673. Some fighters like Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov earn much more with payouts going to tens of millions of dollars.

The main source of income for UFC fighters in the past were earnings from the fighting. But, in recent years, there were some changes in money sources for the fighters. With MMA being the fastest growing sport in the world, the global popularity of UFC fighters has skyrocketed.

Today, most popular UFC fighters have a huge amount of followers on social networks worldwide, and you can see how many followers the biggest UFC fighters on Instagram have. That makes them a perfect target for sponsors and advertising products. As time goes by, more and more UFC fighters are making a lot of money from those sources of income as well as regular paychecks when they are fighting. We will show you some of the ways, an MMA fighter in UFC can earn money.

  • The primary way UFC fighters are making money are paychecks they get from UFC when they fight. Each fighter signs a contract for x amounts of fights and they are paid a fixed amount of money each time they step inside the Octagon. Payouts from fighting ranges a lot. It can go from a starting $10,000 to as much as $3,000,000.
  • Win bonuses – On top of guaranteed payouts for fights, if a fighter wins a bout, they will receive a win bonus that equals the guaranteed amount they got (doubling the amount of money they get).
  • Bonus awards: Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night. UFC also ensures that two fighters that participate in the best and most interesting fight of the night receive a $50,000 bonus. Two fighters who put the best performance on the event also receive a $50,000 bonus.
  • Bonuses (PPV) – Being a UFC Champion or main eventing the UFC PPV event means that there is a chance that a fighter can have a special item in their contract on which they will receive a percentage of all the sold PPV’s.
  • Sponsorships – In 2015, UFC signed a deal with Reebok. The deal obligated all of the UFC fighters to wear exclusively Reebok equipment during the fights. For that, all UFC fighters are getting payouts from Reebok sponsorship every time they fight.
  • Endorsements – There are a ton of different companies that have deals with the UFC fighters. A fighter has to promote a company’s product on social networks, and for that they receive paychecks

There are also other sources of income for UFC/MMA fighters. For example, Conor McGregor, despite earning millions from fighting, he also launched two separate businesses. He launched a luxury clothing line for men called August McGregor. And his own whiskey, called Proper Twelve. The sales of whiskey have skyrocketed all over the world, thus reportedly generating past $1 billion mark in the United States.

You can find out here more about how much money do MMA fighters in the UFC make.

Top 10 Highest Paid UFC Fighters in History

10. Junior dos Santos – $5,970,000

9. Donald Cerrrone – $6,155,000

8. Mark Hunt – $6,304,000

7. Jon Jones – $7,025,000

6. Georges St-Pierre – $7,037,000

5. Michael Bisping – $7,135,000

4. Anderson Silva – $8,112,000

3. Khabib Nurmagomedov – $8,680,200

2. Alistair Overeem – $9,569,500

1. Conor McGregor – $15,082,000

UFC vs Boxing Money: Who Earns More?

As we can see, the biggest boxing fighters still earn more than UFC fighters (at least from theirs fighting sport), but on average UFC fighters probably earn more, because small professional and amateur boxers earn very little and usually have to pay everything for them selfs.

UFC and the MMA overall is rising in popularity, and soon even the best of their fighters will earn more money than the best-paid fighters in boxing.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic