The UFC is the best of the best when it comes to mixed martial arts. Not all the fighters earn millions of dollars – some barely hit six figures – but the top dogs make as much as any other elite athletes, even more.
Due to the UFC not disclosing full fighter paychecks (PPV percentages, bonuses, etc.), it’s hard to determine how much UFC fighters get paid.
Luckily, most fighters have more-or-less consistent pay, so we can make estimates and ultimately break down precise figures.
Here are the top 30 highest-paid UFC fighters in career salaries only in the UFC, excluding all other sources of income.
30. Robbie Lawler – $4,043,000
Robbie Lawler was a very influential and beloved UFC welterweight champion. He was relentless in his prime, and it’s no wonder he got big bucks for some of his octagon appearances.
While it’s undisclosed how much he got for several PPVs he headlined, Ruthless Robbie amassed just over $4 million throughout his career. His best-paid octagon appearance was at UFC 201 against Tyron Woodley, where he lost his title.
He got $540 000 – half a million to show up and around $40k from the Reebok sponsorship (later called fight week incentive pay).
29. Tito Ortiz – $4,135,000
If you take a look at the number, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell were the first UFC megastars, meaning they were also the first guys in the promotion making those big bucks. Ortiz got just over $4.1 million of disclosed pay throughout his career, not counting PPV percentages.
Also, Tito fought in the UFC before the Reebok deal, so every fighter was allowed to have his sponsorship deals. Therefore, it’s uncertain how much he got paid from his sponsors, but we know for certain his highest-paid fights were the ones against Liddell.
28. Max Holloway – $4,342,000
Max Holloway is one of the most exciting guys to watch in the UFC, even now when he’s not the featherweight champion anymore. He’s just relentless and always pushes the tempo, which is why he was rewarded with nice paychecks more often than not.
Although his $4 342 000 seems like big numbers, that’s only the disclosed pay without his PPV shares. I believe he earned a lot more through that, but still not nearly as much as some other fighters.
His best-paid fight? The mauling of Brian Ortega at UFC 231, where he got $490 000 disclosed – $350k to show, $100k in bonuses, and $40k incentive pay.
27. Ronda Rousey – $4,363,000
The only female fighter on this list is Ronda Rousey. She was once the UFC’s brightest star, carrying numerous PPVs with huge sales. Therefore, one might only conclude her career paychecks were much bigger, but the disclosed amount she earned is $4 363 000.
Oddly enough, even though she was the face of the franchise for a while, she wouldn’t even come close to this number hadn’t she done the last fight of her career against Amanda Nunes. Rousey got just over $3 million for that single fight, which is a huge chunk of her career earnings.
26. Chris Weidman – $4,573,000
Chris Weidman was just an ordinary UFC fighter, earning right around the average pay. Then he knocked Anderson Silva out cold and took his belt in one of the biggest shocks in UFC history. His first fight with Silva got him $98k – from which $50k came as a bonus for the Knockout of the Night.
For his next Anderson Silva fight, he got $400k. Now, that’s a raise. His highest disclosed pay (excluding PPV shares) came against Vitor Belfort at UFC 187, where he got $550k. His career salary amasses to $4 573 000 in disclosed pay.
25. Fabricio Werdum – $4,583,000
Although he had some problems with USADA, Fabricio Werdum still made a nice chunk of change throughout his illustrious career, with almost $4.6 million in disclosed pay. Some of that money (around $300k) should be attributed to his short tenure with Strikeforce in between UFC appearances.
Still, the guy became a UFC heavyweight champion, so it’s logical his highest salaries came around that time. His best paycheck came after he lost the title to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198. He got $540k for that – half a million to show, plus $40k from the Reebok sponsorship, plus an undisclosed PPV percentage.
24. Chuck Liddell – $4,630,000
Back in the day, when Chuck Liddell was scorching the competition in the UFC light heavyweight division, fighters weren’t getting that much money. That makes his career earnings even more impressive, standing at $4 630 000.
Oddly enough, he earned most of his money when he was already done for – a bit over $3 million in disclosed pay over his last six UFC fights, where he went 1-6. He got half a million for each of those appearances, plus $50k as a Fight of the Night bonus against Wanderlei Silva.
23. Rashad Evans – $4,735,000
While Rashad Evans had a few big payouts, his $4 735 000 in disclosed career pay came from the sheer amount of fights he was in, not a few huge checks. He was a beast in his prime, though, and his biggest payout earned him just over half a million dollars.
It happened at UFC 161 against Dan Henderson, where Evans got $300k to show up and $210k for the win.
22. Tyron Woodley – $4,874,425
Just when Tyron Woodley started campaigning for more money in his pocket (and had the momentum to do so), he lost his belt. Still, many folks can only dream about being as well-paid as the former welterweight champ, who amassed $4 874 425 through his UFC career.
His loss to Kamaru Usman was the last fight of his contract that earned him half a million a fight. That started his 4-fight skid, but he still got just over $200k for each of his last three fights.
21. Nate Diaz – $4,912,000
If we had the PPV percentages disclosed for every fighter, Nate Diaz would be a lot higher on this list, especially considering he carried some of the highest-sold PPV events in UFC history for his Conor McGregor fights.
However, we only got the disclosed numbers, and they amass just under $5 million for the younger Stockton brother. His highest paycheck was by far the second McGregor fight, where he got $2.07 million in disclosed pay (plus who-knows-how-much in PPV percentages).
20. Lyoto Machida – $5,035,000
If you don’t count the last three bouts in Lyoto Machida’s career he had done in Bellator, he would slide a couple of spots down this list, as he earned around $450k in those three fights. Through his UFC career, though, he earned nearly $5 million in disclosed paychecks.
He never got that one huge money fight that most of the fighters on this list had. However, he got $200k a fight for quite a long time, and when you count in his bonuses and the length of his UFC tenure, it’s easy to see how he amassed that much money through his career.
19. Frankie Edgar – $5,158,000
Frankie Edgar should be called “Mr. Bonus” if you asked me, as the guy got ten post-fight bonuses through his illustrious career. Like Machida, he never got that one huge payout (at least not disclosed), but he’s done over 25 UFC fights, and a lot of them went over $200k in disclosed pay.
His biggest paycheck didn’t come while he was the champion, though, but rather years later for his rematch against Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Lee. In an incredible fight, Frankie got $420k – $200k to show up, $200k for the win, and around $20k incentive pay).
18. Mauricio Rua – $5,270,000
One of the legends of this sport, Mauricio Shogun Rua, gave us some of the most exciting, nerve-racking UFC bouts in history. That’s why I’m happy he’s on this list, even though he never got that one huge paycheck he deserved.
For the two legendary fights against Dan Henderson, I’d give him as much as he had earned throughout his career, even though he lost both of those fights. Still, a disclosed $5.27 million isn’t something many fighters can brag about, even though it came more from his longevity than some huge paychecks other famous fighters got.
17. Jose Aldo – $5,270,500
Jose Aldo’s UFC career amounts to $5 270 500 in disclosed pay. However, I always say whoever fought Conor McGregor after he became “the” Conor McGregor got a lot more money in their pocket than it was publicly disclosed.
Even though that was clearly the biggest payout of Aldo’s career, if you consider the undisclosed PPV numbers, it wasn’t Jose’s best performance, nor his highest disclosed paycheck. He was a legendary, amazing fighter, and he earned every penny he ever made through his illustrious career.
16. Brock Lesnar – $5,295,000
Again, if we had disclosed PPV numbers, this guy would be a lot higher on this list. That is blasphemy, if you ask me, as Brock Lesnar only competed in eight UFC fights. We have to give him props for winning the heavyweight title, but he shouldn’t ever have gotten the chance in the first place, as he was 1-1 in his first two UFC bouts.
Still, everybody knew he’s there to make the promotion and himself some money, and he did just that with a total of just under $5.3 million, not including PPV percentages.
He got most of that money for his last fight against Mark Hunt, where he should’ve got $2.5 million just to show, but was fined $250k for a failed drug test that ended his MMA career for good.
15. Dan Henderson – $5,480,000
I believe that Dan Henderson is one of the best – if not the best – fighters ever that never won a UFC title. Still, he gave us incredible performance after incredible performance, fighting in divisions from welterweight to heavyweight throughout his career.
Take his $5 480 000 career earnings with a grain of salt. About a million from that amount came from his short four-fight tenure with Strikeforce in 2010 and 2011.
I’m happy the UFC did him justice in the end, as his last two career fights were his best paid, as he got around $860k against Vince Lombard and $680k for the Michael Bisping bout.
14. Vitor Belfort – $5,795,200
I’m not a huge fan of Vitor Belfort due to his several doping violations, but before USADA took over, Belfort was one of the best fighters in the UFC. He’s had a long career that saw some incredible performances and knockouts, getting Belfort almost $5.8 million in disclosed salaries.
Some of his best-paid stints were against Dan Henderson. Most notably, their third fight, where Belfort got $300k to show up, $200k for the win, $50k as the Performance of the Night bonus, and around $10k from Reebok.
13. Stipe Miocic – $6,068,000
I’m sure the best UFC heavyweight fighter of all time, Stipe Miocic, earned a lot more through PPV percentages, especially for the Daniel Cormier trilogy. Still, over $6 million in disclosed pay is not bad at all, considering he was only getting around $60k to show plus $60k to win before he became the champ.
His highest disclosed amount for a single fight was at UFC 241 – the second DC fight, where he got $750k to show up, $50k as the Performance of the Night bonus, and around $30-40k incentive pay).
12. Mark Hunt – $6,304,000
The legendary Super Samoan Mark Hunt was never a UFC champion, but the battles he endured in the octagon make him one of the biggest stars the promotion ever had. I believe he was underpaid for a long time before taking the Brock Lesnar fight and finally earning some big bucks.
He earned at least $750k a night after Lesnar, meaning he earned nearly $4 million in his last five fights, compared to around $2.3 million disclosed throughout the rest of his career.
11. Daniel Cormier – $6,586,500
A lot of folks don’t like how Daniel Cormier tried picking money fights after he became the UFC double champion and campaigned for Brock Lesnar to be his first title defense even though Brock hadn’t competed in years – because of a failed drug test. That fight never materialized, though, and no one can deny that DC fought the best of the best.
His $6.59 million in disclosed pay is probably pocket change for what he got in PPV percentages, as he carried tons of high-selling PPV events, including the trilogy with Stipe Miocic and the two huge Jon Jones fights.
10. Donald Cerrone – $7,025,800
It’s only right that the man with the most UFC records is in the top 10 on this list. Although he was never the champion, Donald Cerrone earned every penny he earned, fighting as much as five times a year, always ready to put on a show.
He got just over $7 million disclosed through his career. While he certainly got the most money from his UFC 246 main event against Conor McGregor when you include PPV numbers (although Cowboy claims he got $0 from PPV in that fight), his highest-earning fight per disclosed pay came against Al Iaquinta in 2019, where he got $410k.
9. Georges St-Pierre – $7,037,000
Although Georges St-Pierre was one of the best MMA fighters ever to grace the octagon, he was never a huge PPV draw, as his fights usually went the distance. If there hadn’t been that final Michael Bisping fight where GSP took the middleweight gold, he’d be at least ten spots down on this list.
He earned just over $7 million in disclosed paychecks throughout his career, and around $2.6 million out of that amount came in the last fight of his career – four years after he initially retired.
8. Junior dos Santos – $7,110,000
Cigano is a beloved former heavyweight champion known for his outspoken attitude and deadly striking prowess. His career got him over $7.1 million in disclosed pay, although he probably got more through PPV percentages for some of his biggest fights.
One of his highest-paid fights was the rematch against Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title. Although Junior dos Santos got knocked out in the first round, he still got a bit over $800k for the fight.
7. Michael Bisping – $7,135,000
Michael Bisping got around the same amount for each of his fights from November 2009 until he became the champion seven years later. The Count got his money through persistence and durability, as he has over 25 UFC bouts under his feet and a disclosed earning of $7 135 000.
He got the most cash for his first title defense against Dan Henderson and his title loss against Georges St-Pierre. Both bouts got him around half a million without PPV shares.
6. Jon Jones – $7,230,000
Yes, Jon Jones got way more than $7.23 million throughout his UFC career. However, we don’t know the PPV shares; we only have the disclosed purses after each event. Arguably the best fighter to ever compete in the UFC deserves all his money, even though he has tons of controversy surrounding him and his illustrious career.
After coming back and being quite active for a while, it seems that Bones is shooting for a big raise, as he refused to fight for over a year since his bout with Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. Rumor has it; he wants a shot at heavyweight gold, which would definitely get his career salary way above the current amount.
5. Anderson Silva – $8,732,000
For a long time, Anderson Silva was the face of the UFC and MMA in general. He was simply unbeatable and incredibly entertaining, but he started making real money only after losing his belt. His first fight against Chris Weidman was the first to get $600k for showing up, and the same amount continued until his retirement.
His biggest payout came at UFC 208 when he got $820k for beating Derek Brunson – the usual $600k to show up, $20k from the Reebok sponsorship, and an additional $200k for the win.
4. Andrei Arlovski – $9,844,000
Andrei Arlovski being so high up on this list might come as a surprise to most fans, especially the young fans that haven’t watched the Pitbull in his prime. Indeed, a good chunk (around $3 million) of Arlovski’s career earnings came from a few fights in between his UFC gigs – most notably a $1.5 million fight against Fedor Emelianenko in 2009 under Affliction.
However, even if you take away those few fights, Andrei would still be around $7 million in UFC career pay without PPV numbers, which would only put him down a few spots on this list.
He got his money with longevity, earning well over $300k in his last ten career bouts.
3. Alistair Overeem – $10,204,500
If we were to disclose the salary of every bout that Alistair Overeem ever fought in outside of the UFC, the $10.2 million would probably double. Still, breaking $10 million in disclosed pay for a UFC fighter is so rare, only two other guys managed to do so (without PPV numbers, of course).
Most of that money came with a huge contract The Reem signed with the UFC from May 2016 to November 2018. Alistair got at least $800k for each of the seven bouts in that span, getting him half the money he earned throughout his UFC tenure.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov – $14,770,000
For a guy that lost only a round or two in his career, let alone a fight (29-0), it’s no wonder that Khabib Nurmagomedov is right at the top of this list. However, he earned a whopping 92.9% of his career earnings in his last three fights, starting with the Conor McGregor bout at UFC 229.
He should’ve made $2 million for that fight but ended up paying $500k for the post-fight incident. How he maltreated McGregor finally showed the UFC how much he’s worth, so he got paid $6 million for each of his next two fights to show, plus $90k each fight for incentive pay and post-fight bonuses.
PPV numbers were never disclosed, but it’s not wild to guess they were way bigger than $6 million.
1. Conor McGregor – $20,102,000
The number one spot goes to UFC’s golden boy, Conor McGregor. He’s the guy who earned the promotion by far the most money throughout history, so it’s only fair that he’s the highest-paid UFC fighter in history.
Every fighter that fought him got paid the most they ever got in their careers (“Red Panty Night”), so whether you love him or hate him, McGregor is a business genius.
The $20 million in disclosed salaries is nothing compared to what he got from PPV percentages, but we’ll never know for certain. There’s no way to know for sure, but he claimed he earned a good $50 million from the Nurmagomedov fight and a staggering $80 million against Donald Cerrone in his next fight.
Whether that’s true remains the question. However, disclosed or not, Forbes has McGregor as the number one highest-paid athlete in the world in 2021, so it’s no wonder he’s at the top of this list as well.