Way of Martial Arts (wayofmartialarts.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.
Kickboxing is a popular martial art practiced by millions all over the world. It’s an excellent exercise for the body and mind and can also help you learn self-defense. It’s also a professional sport that can get you some nice money if you work hard enough. So, how much do Kickboxers get paid?
Kickboxers payout can range from $500 per fight to a staggering $1 million that the best, most popular kickboxers earn. Adding to the salary, the sponsorships and endorsements can earn fighters even more. The money depends on their skill, popularity, and management.
It’s hard to determine precisely how much a Kickboxer earns without them disclosing their net worth publicly. Most Kickboxing promotions, such as Glory or ONE Championship, sign their fighters to a contract with an agreed-upon payout per fight. Then there are bonuses, PPV percentages for the best fighters, sponsorships, and other income sources that can turn a Kickboxer from well-paid to wealthy.
How much do kickboxers make per fight?
There are exceptions with Kickboxers that make a lot of money, but it is a consensus that Kickboxers are severely underpaid compared to other combat sports fighters. Some Glory Kickboxing champions only get paid around $20000 a fight, which is nothing compared to, for instance, average MMA fighters in the UFC.
That is the reason why many top-tier Kickboxers choose to leave the sport and take their talents into MMA as Israel Adesanya has done. He quickly became a UFC champion and stated before that he made more money for one UFC fight than he made in his entire Kickboxing career.
That being said, an average Kickboxing salary ranges between $500 and $30000 per fight. There are exceptions, where fighters will get paid a lot more, but you can’t get into the sport expecting you will make millions of dollars.
Some research suggests that only 0.09% of Kickboxers become millionaires, and most of them leave the sport for MMA, where the pay is way better. But, there are a few that make a nice buck fighting in a Kickboxing ring.
It all depends on the promotion and the public interest for the fights. For instance, an average ONE Championship Kickboxer earns between $5000 to $20000 per contest. But, when a Grand Prix is organized, the winner can win $1 million to add to the regular salary.
The reason why Kickboxers earn less than Boxers or MMA fighters has nothing to do with their skills. As unfair as it sounds, it’s all about what the audience wants. Boxing and MMA have much larger viewership numbers and fan bases. Therefore, the promoters can afford to pay their fighters more.
If you are wondering what it takes for you to get to the level of the highest-paid Kickboxers, many things come into play.
1. Skill and record
This is a rule, but it has many exceptions – the highest skilled fighters make the most money. While that is generally true, the fighters that can attract the most viewers with their style and reputation will get paid better. But, if you don’t have the results to back that up, nobody will give you big bucks to fight, not even the top promotions.
The better your overall score is, the higher your salary will be. Also, your choice of opponents will play a significant role in getting more money. If you fight other top-tier fighters, you will get more money. And, if you have already won bouts against the best competition, you’ll be in a great position to request more cash.
That being said, when you get to the bottom of it – it’s all about winning bouts. You get paid whether you win or not. That’s called “show-up” money. The fighter that wins will eventually win a lot more – usually, it’s double the amount the loser gets for showing up.
Finally, how much you earn per year is not the same as what you make per fight. Some fighters are more active than others, taking 4 or 5 matches in a year. Others will take only 1 or 2 fights, so their annual payout will depend on how often they fought.
The popularity of a fighter will positively affect his salary. If you are attractive to fans for your behavior inside and outside the ring, you will make more money. You don’t even have to be the best fighter in the world at the moment. You only need to have the highest reputation, and the money will come.
It may sound unfair, but professional sports are a market product, and if your name sells views, you’ll get paid better. For instance, Badr Hari is one of the most popular Kickboxers globally but hasn’t been active for numerous reasons. During his absence, many fighters worked hard, won matches, and proved to be championship material.
Nevertheless, as soon as he returned, he got the opportunity to fight for the heavyweight title against Rico Verhoeven (the champion). They both got paid substantially more than they usually get paid because public interest was extremely high, dubbing it the “best heavyweight Kickboxing fight in history.”
It’s like that in Kickboxing, MMA, and virtually any other combat sport. Conor McGregor still gets paid the most money out of all MMA fighters, even though he won only one MMA fight in five years. He’s the most famous fighter that attracts the most viewers, so he gets the most money for performing.
3. Fight location
Where the fight is conducted also plays a major role in what the fighters will get paid, especially the top-tier fighters. Larger venues and more prominent market locations can accommodate more people, sell more tickets, and attract a larger audience. Therefore, the larger the platform, the better the pay for the fighters.
Spots that will usually get the most money to the fighters are Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles. In Europe, you’ll get more money for fighting in London than in, for instance, Liverpool – simply because London’s market is a lot bigger.
Finally, possibly the most money comes not from the per-fight salary but sponsorship agreements and contracts. Sponsors are crucial in every sport, but especially in combat sports and martial arts.
Big names always have the best sponsorship endorsements because the sponsors have criteria for making deals. They will look at how high your social media reach is, your achievements in the sport, how well you conduct yourself in public, and how well your behavior reflects their brand.
Sponsorship deals can go upwards of a couple of millions of dollars, depending on the brand and the athlete. Sometimes, all you need to do is use their products in public, while other times, you’ll need to do promotions, commercials, etc.
Who is the richest Kickboxer?
It’s hard to determine who the richest Kickboxer is because not all their income is disclosed to the larger audience. You can find information about what the fighters are making on a fight-to-fight base, but their bonuses, PPV percentages, merchandise revenue, and sponsorship deals are where most of their money comes from.
That being said, the wealthiest Kickboxers don’t necessarily have to be the best fighters in the world – only the most popular and the most influential. Being the best and the most popular usually goes hand-in-hand, but that’s not a rule.
When it comes to active Kickboxers, one of the wealthiest Kickboxers in the world is Badr Hari, even though he’s not a champion anymore. His reputation and resume speak for themselves, which is why he gets way more on a fight-to-fight basis than some world champions do.
For instance, Joseph Valtellini only got paid around $20000 for winning a Glory title, while Hari got over $200000 for losing a match to the champion, Rico Verhoeven.
Speaking of Rico Verhoeven, he is the Glory heavyweight champion that’s undefeated for many years, racking up one title defense after another. He is very popular and has the achievements behind him to be one of the highest-paid Kickboxers in the world.
His net worth in 2019 was disclosed to be over $3 million, but it’s believed he earned a lot more with sponsorships and other endorsements. Honorable mentions in the “richest Kickboxer” category are Giorgio Petrosyan, Gokhan Saki, Buakaw Banchamek, and others.
Some Kickboxers used the money they earned during their career and invested it into something else after their careers, making them even more money. That’s why, for instance, Ernesto Hoost has a net worth of over $10 million, although he earned only a fraction of that money while actively fighting in a ring.
Kickboxers in MMA
Unfortunately, Kickboxers that earn the most money in the world left the sport to seek success elsewhere. MMA is more popular and incredibly more paid, so many top-tier Kickboxers choose to go down that road.
We mentioned Israel Adesanya, who is now the UFC middleweight champion and is still undefeated in MMA. He stated that one UFC fight made him more money than his entire Kickboxing career.
Now, he gets paid millions when you count sponsorship deals and endorsements. His last three fights only got him over a million dollars – around $450000 per contest.
Possibly even more popular than Adesanya is Alistair Overeem. He was a Kickboxing superstar but transferred to MMA because the money is at least three times better. His career is coming to a close, but he now has more than $10 million to his name.
So, if your goal is to earn money, there’s a higher possibility of making big bucks in MMA. But, if you are in it just for the sport, being one of the best Kickboxers in the world can also get you significant money.