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.
The UFC is the best MMA organization globally, meaning the best fighters in the world compete here.
However, due to the sport’s brutal nature, fighters compete far less often than, for instance, boxers.
So, how often do UFC fighters fight?
On average, UFC fighters fight 2-3 times a year. Lower ranked fighters usually fight more frequently to climb the ranks, while the best fighters, such as the champions and the top challengers, fight only 1-2 times a year.
Of course, there are exceptions, as this is only the average number when you take all the fighters on the UFC roster into consideration.
Some top fighters, such as Donald Cerrone, fight 5-6 times a year, but many factors come into play here – the average pay a fighter gets, injuries, medical suspensions, etc.
How Long Do UFC Fighters Have to Wait Between Fights?
The top-tier fighters are usually ready to go a lot sooner than they actually return to action, so the period between two fights can vary.
They will wait for the right opponent, give themselves more time to prepare, or seek the best money deal on the table.
There are many variables here that allow fighters to take as much time off as they want, even if they aren’t considerably injured.
But, the lower-ranked fighters are different. You want to fight as often as you can to earn more money and to make a name for yourself in the business.
So, the only thing keeping you outside the Octagon is medical suspensions.
Medical suspensions are unified in all of MMA, not only in the UFC.
Even if you haven’t suffered any significant injuries, some time still has to pass before you’re allowed to return to action.
Usually, that’s 30 to 120 days, depending on how bruised you were in your matchup. 
If you managed to avoid any injuries, bruises, etc., that period could be even shorter, but you have to be cleared to compete by a doctor.
That rarely happens in the UFC, but it does occur in the lower MMA leagues and promotions, where fighters try to make a name for themselves and want to fight as often as possible.
On the other hand, longer medical suspensions aren’t that rare in the UFC.
For instance, if you’ve suffered a brutal knockout (which usually means a severe concussion), you can be medically suspended from action for as long as six months. 
Apart from the medical suspensions, there aren’t many restrictions that state how often you are allowed to fight in the UFC.
Most commonly, the fighter decides to fight less frequently to prepare themselves better for each opponent.
Still, back in the earlier days of MMA, fighters were even allowed to fight a couple of times a day.
There were tournaments held in one evening, where fighters would compete in three or four matches in one night. Of course, if they were able to.
Some promotions still hold events like that, bet they are medically regulated far better than before.
With all the progress we made with MMA as a sport and the medical regulations, how come the fighters fight so rarely in UFC?
The answers vary depending on each individual, but the UFC has something to do with it, too.
Why Do UFC Fighters Fight so Rare?
As I said before, medical suspensions are the biggest reason why UFC fighters compete so infrequently.
But, I’ve also noted that lower-ranked fighters compete for 3-4 times a year on average, while the top fighters average only 1-2 bouts a year.
So, why is the discrepancy between the fighting frequency so high, even though they fight in the same promotion?
Lower-Ranked Fighters Make Less Money
If you follow MMA for a while now, you probably read stories about UFC fighters being well underpaid when you compare their paychecks with, for instance, boxers.
That is true, to some extent, but it’s pretty similar to every other sport in the world – the more famous you are, the more money you’ll get.
Usually, the champions and the top challengers are the most famous fighters in the UFC, and they draw the largest audience, and PPV buys, so they make a lot more money than your average UFC fighters.
That’s why lower-ranked fighters compete much more frequently.
They average around $20000 to show up and $20000 to win.
On the other hand, the top UFC fighters easily reach six figures for their fights, so they can afford to fight less often.
Not only do they make more money by fighting more frequently, but they are building a name for themselves in the process, too.
If you fight often and win, you’ll climb the rankings faster, eventually leading to more money for you.
To summarize, lower-ranked fighters fight more often to make money and progress up the rankings faster, while the top fighters tend to calculate more and give themselves more time to prepare for every opponent.
They make enough money from one or two fights a year, and it helps them recover better, avoid injuries, and stay on top longer.
There Are a Lot More Fighters on the UFC Roster
Medical suspensions, money, or calculations aside, there’s yet another reason why UFC fighters fight so little.
There are many more weight divisions and a lot more fighters on the UFC roster, meaning they can’t compete as often.
Only 15 fighters in each UFC division are ranked, but at least ten more active fighters in every category are still unranked.
Multiply that by the number of divisions, and you get over 700 active fighters. 
To add to it, there are only twelve significant UFC PPV events per year (one each month), and title fights are usually kept for those events because the UFC doesn’t want their top fighters competing on weaker cards.
That means the champions don’t even have that much room to fight more frequently, even if they wanted to.
Overall, it’s a business, and everything is organized in a way to make a profit.
We’d all like to see the top fighters compete more, but MMA is the most violent combat sport in the world, so you have to take injuries, suspensions, and precautions in mind, too.
The fighters’ safety matters the most, and the UFC is doing a great job achieving that.