PDA

View Full Version : Fighter's salary for those who want more proof:



Pages : [1] 2

Omega Supreme
4/08/2004 2:38am,
From MMA weekly this is great information if you don't believe some of the previous posts we've posted on the subject:

This is an article that has been months in the making as I've compiled different numbers and medical histories from fighters and promoters along the way breaking down our great sport of mixed martial arts.

In Part 1 today you will find the fighter salaries for all kinds of shows. Some of them are mid major shows like King of the Cage or WEC. Some are the recent bigger shows like UFC 46 and UFC 47. There are also a few numbers from Japanese shows like Shooto, K-1, Inoki and Pride with plenty of notes and analysis along the way.

There is a myth out there that some promotions pay big money. That seems only true if your a "name" fighter in Japan or in some cases the UFC.

It's amazing to see how little money some of these fighters are making in respected mid major organizations; such as, the IFC, King of the Cage, WEC, etc....

Bottom line- you better fight for the love of the sport; instead of, the money of the sport. Like boxing, if you don't have a big name, you won't make much money. Even if you make a name, your still not guaranteed the huge money.

Case in point- King of the Cage. KOC has been regarded as one of the bigger shows in America. Even with UFC veterans on this card, it's interesting to note a guy of Dennis Hallman's skill, isn't being paid what you or I consider Halllman should be paid. So is the life of a great fighter....

This is all public record from Nevada as this was the King of the Cage 18 event that took place on August 16, 2003...the following information is to show young aspiring fighters out there that you better love to fight for the experience and passion, not the big bucks you think is out there in MMA.

Omega Supreme
4/08/2004 2:38am,
KING OF THE CAGE 18 - August 16th, 2003

-Dennis Hallman: $4,000 ($4,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $0)
-Benji Radach: $2,000 ($1,000 for fighting; $1,000 win bonus)
-Drew Fickett: $2,000 ($1,000 for fighting; $1,000 win bonus)
-Art Santore: $1,250 ($1,250 for fighting; $0 win bonus)
-Joey Villasenor: $1,250 ($750 for fighting; $500 win bonus)
-Gustavo "Ximu" Machado: $1,000 ($1,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $1,000)
-James Fanshier: $1,000 ($1,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $500)
-Jason Coronado: $1,000 ($500 for fighting; $500 win bonus)
-Steve Renaud: $800 ($800 for fighting; win bonus would have been $200)
-Rick Collup: $750 ($750 for fighting; win bonus would have been $0)
-Bo Cantrell: $600 ($400 for fighting; $200 win bonus)
-Casey Balkenbush: $600 ($400 for fighting; $200 win bonus mmaweekly)
-Sean Gray: $500 ($500 for fighting; win bonus would have been $500)
-Rockne Batastini: $500 ($500 for fighting; win bonus would have been $500)
-Jake Short: $500 ($250 for fighting; $250 win bonus mmaweekly)
-Khomkrit Nilmi: $400 ($200 for fighting; $200 win bonus)
-Paul Purcell: $250 ( $250 for fighting; win bonus would have been $250 )
-Danny Mann: $200 ($200 for fighting; win bonus would have been $200)


Total Fighter Payroll: $18,600

Notes on King of the Cage Salaries and MMA Salaries in General:

-This was a King of the Cage event (later broadcast on pay-per-view) that was headlined by Dennis Hallman vs. Drew Fickett and Benji Radach vs. Gustavo Machado. The pay scale for this event is typical for a King of the Cage event; as even, "name" fighters like Hallman aren't making a heck of a lot of money. Any MMA events taking place in America that are smaller than King of the Cage have an even smaller pay scale.

-If you're thinking, "Oh my God, those guys are fighting for peanuts," you should keep this in mind. Fighters don't fight in KOTC or other small MMA promotions to make a lot of money. They do it for one of two reasons in most cases: A) They just love to fight and are committed to some other full-time job that is not MMA-related, or B) They're hoping to make a name for themselves so that they can one day make it to the UFC.

-Of course, if they do ever make it to the UFC, they're not going to make too much more than their KOTC pay initially. It's all about the opportunity, in this order on the timeline: The opportunity to fight in the UFC, the opportunity to become a star in the UFC, and then the opportunity to make five or six figures per fight in the UFC. Not many people make it that far (just as not many people sign $50 million NFL contracts), and how much money you make once you become a star is all relative to how much money your sport makes in profit. Individual UFC events make little or no profit at this point in the sport's growth, so the star fighters in the United States make five or six figures rather than signing seven or eight figure contracts. Maybe top MMA stars in the United States will make millions of dollars five or ten years from now; but in the meantime, it's just not realistic.

-One other thing you might notice in the King of the Cage pay scale is that there are all kinds of different salaries and contract structures. Some of the fighters are paid all of their money just to fight and don't have win bonuses, some fighters have smaller win bonuses, and some fighters' "win money" is just as much as their "show money." It's much less formal and more flexible than a bigger organization like the UFC, where well over 90% of the fighters have the same contract structure (where a fighter makes X amount of money to fight, and makes that same amount again if they win).

Salaries in Japan

For much of the same reasons that bigger MMA promotions in the United States can afford to pay fighters more than smaller MMA promotions, fighters generally make a lot more money fighting in Japan than they ever possibly could in the United States. The reason is simple: MMA and its sister sport of kickboxing are like mainstream sports in Japan. So, there are several Japanese organizations capable of paying fighters big money, whether you're on the bottom of the pay scale or the top.

While specific information on each fighter's pay is not available for any Japanese organization, MMAWeekly has uncovered the Japanese and American salaries of a handful of American mixed martial artists. We are presenting this information for the purposes of comparison, to illustrate the point that there are two different pay scales for MMA depending on whether you're talking about American MMA or Japanese MMA. Some of these numbers are educated guesses from Japan with what some fighters reported to us.

Alex Steibling in America--- $1,000 to fight and $1,000 more to win in the WEC

Alex Steibling in Japan--- $15,000 to fight and $15,000 more to win in Pride

Dan Henderson in America--- $20,000 to fight and $20,000 more to win in the UFC; this was at UFC 17 when the UFC was owned by SEG; this salary is probably still the most Henderson could expect to make in the UFC today as a middleweight

Dan Henderson in Japan--- $65,000 to fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at Pride 24 in December 2002

Din Thomas in America--- $12,000 to fight and $12,000 more to win in the UFC (this was the high point of his UFC contract)

Din Thomas in Japan--- $25,000 to fight on the Antonio Inoki New Year's Eve show; win bonus would have been an additional $15,000

Jens Pulver in America--- $11,000 to fight and $11,000 more to win in the UFC (this was the high point of his UFC contract, even when he was the UFC Lightweight Champion)

Jens Pulver in Japan--- $50,000 to fight in Shooto

Jeremy Horn in America--- $6,000 to fight and $6,000 more to win in the UFC

Jeremy Horn in Japan--- $50,000 to fight (was paid this salary by two different organizations in Japan)

Matt Lindland in America--- $18,000 to fight and $18,000 more to win in the UFC (this is excellent pay for any mixed martial artist in the United States)

Matt Lindland in Japan--- Pride executives offered him $50,000 to fight Kazushi Sakuraba last December before abruptly changing their plans

Rich Clementi in America--- $2,000 to fight and $2,000 more to win in the UFC (this is what almost all UFC rookies make mmaweekly)

Rich Clementi in Japan--- $15,000 to fight in the ZST lightweight tournament; win bonus for winning the tournament would have been an additional $50,000 mmaweekly

Rich Franklin in America--- $5,000 to fight and $5,000 more to win in the UFC

Rich Franklin in Japan--- $25,000 to fight on the Antonio Inoki New Year's Eve show

Omega Supreme
4/08/2004 2:40am,
UFC 46 Fighter Salaries


-Vitor Belfort: $130,000 ($100,000 for fighting; $30,000 win bonus)
-Randy Couture: $120,000 ($120,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $80,000)
-Frank Mir: $90,000 ($60,000 for fighting; $30,000 win bonus)
-Matt Hughes: $55,000 ($55,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $55,000)
-BJ Penn: $50,000 ($25,000 for fighting; $25,000 win bonus)
-Carlos Newton: $30,000 ($30,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $0)
-Matt Serra: $16,000 ($8,000 for fighting; $8,000 win bonus)
-Renato Verissimo: $10,000 ($5,000 for fighting; $5,000 win bonus)
-Josh Thomson: $8,000 ($4,000 for fighting; $4,000 win bonus mmaweekly)
-Lee Murray: $6,000 ($3,000 for fighting; $3,000 win bonus)
-Georges St. Pierre: $6,000 ($3,000 for fighting; $3,000 win bonus)
-Hermes Franca: $6,000 ($6,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $6,000)
-Wes Sims: $5,000 ($5,000 for fighting, win bonus would have been $5,000)
-Jorge Rivera: $3,000 ($3,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $3,000)
-Karo Parisyan: $3,000 ($3,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $3,000 mmaweekly)
-Jeff Curran: $2,500 ($2,500 for fighting; win bonus would have been $2,000)
-Total Fighter Payroll: $540,500

UFC 47 Fighter Salaries


-Tito Ortiz: $125,000 ($125,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $50,000)
-Chuck Liddell: $100,000 ($50,000 for fighting; $50,000 win bonus)
-Andrei Arlovski: $23,000 ($15,000 for fighting; $8,000 win bonus)
-Genki Sudo: $16,000 ($8,000 for fighting; $8,000 win bonus)
-Wes "Cabbage" Correira: $12,000 ($12,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $12,000)
-Yves Edwards: $12,000 ($6,000 for fighting; $6,000 win bonusmmaweekly)
-Robbie Lawler: $8,000 ($8,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $8,000)
-Hermes Franca: $6,000 ($6,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $6,000)
-Nick Diaz: $6,000 ($3,000 for fighting; $3,000 win bonus)
-Mike Kyle: $6,000 ($3,000 for fighting; $3,000 win bonus)
-Wes Sims: $5,000 ($5,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $5,000)
-Chris Lytle: $4,000 ($2,000 for fighting; $2,000 win bonus mmaweekly)
-Jonathan Wiezorek: $4,000 ($2,000 for fighting; $2,000 win bonus)
-Mike Brown: $2,000 ($2,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $2,000)
-Tiki Ghosn: $2,000 ($2,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $2,000)
-Wade Shipp: $2,000 ($2,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $2,000)
Total Fighter Payroll: $333,000

Notes on UFC 46 and UFC 47 Salaries:

-Taking home $50,000 to fight and $50,000 more if you win is hardly chump change. A contract can be greater or smaller depending on if your coming off a loss like Chuck Liddell was. Tito's original deal in his six fight deal was already in place, thus Chuck isn't making "Tito" money. Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, Matt Hughes, Frank Mir, and Tito Ortiz are all making more money at this point than Liddell. Four of the five have been UFC Champions. Mir on the other hand has not."


-BJ Penn's pay of $25,000 to fight and $25,000 more to win is huge for a lower-weight fighter and is about as good as it gets for a welterweight or lightweight fighter in the United States (other than an established long-term champion like Matt Hughes). Penn might get up to Hughes' level of pay after several successful title defenses, but it would surprise me if it happened before then.

-Vitor Belfort signed a three-fight contract in 2001 that paid him $100,000 to fight and $30,000 more to win. The Couture fight was the third and final fight on that contract, so when/if Belfort steps into the Octagon in the future, it may or may not come with a negotiated raise in pay.

-Much like Belfort, Genki Sudo was completing the last fight on a three-fight deal with his most recent UFC fight. With the amount of money that Genki Sudo is paid in Japan for circus matches like fighting Butterbean, I would be surprised to see him fight in the UFC again unless Zuffa decided to offer him a big raise. Sudo is likely to be another fighter leaving the UFC, although for very different reasons than other fighters like Ricco Rodriguez and Pedro Rizzo (both of whom were grossly overpaid and won't be fighting in the UFC in the forseeable future unless they take drastic pay cuts).

-Fighters making anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 to fight and essentially having their paychecks doubled if they win is the standard fare for anyone who only has 1-3 UFC fights under their belt. It's pretty much accepted that your pay is going to start out at that miniscule level, and increase steadily over time if you're brought back. Your pay will then shoot up to five-figures if you become a big star, or six-figures if you become a mega-star (or Tank Abbott).

-The competition from Pride for the services of top heavyweight fighters ensures that the UFC is going to have to pay a lot to keep any heavyweight star, but even by those standards it was surprising to learn that Frank Mir's UFC 46 contract paid him $60,000 to fight and $30,000 more to win.

-It was equally surprising to me that Robbie Lawler still has a four-figure contract and only makes more than $10,000 per fight if he wins; given the fact, that he has become an unofficial Zuffa poster boy and is pushed by the UFC as a superstar. His salary of $8,000 to fight and $8,000 more to win is good pay for a welterweight fighter, but not your usual "star" paycheck.

-Carlos Newton's UFC 46 contract that paid him $30,000 to fight and had no winning bonus is not different or "suspicious" in any way, as a few people have suggested on message boards. Newton has always fought with gauranteed, no-win-bonus contracts when he fights in the United States. That's probably the only thing that makes it financially worthwhile for him to fight in the U.S.; due to the fact, that he makes so much more money in Japan.

-In addition to other small fees and taxes, fighters who are not US citizens have a whopping 30% of their pay (both "show money" and "win money") taken by the state of Nevada in the form of taxes. At UFC 47, this applied to three of the sixteen fighters on the card (Andrei Arlovski, Hermes Franca, and Genki Sudo).

Comparative Notes on Total Fighter Payroll

UFC 44: $467,500
UFC 46: $540,500
UFC 47: $333,000

Comparative Notes on Number of Fighters Making $10,000 or More

UFC 44: 8 out of 18 fighters made $10,000 or more
UFC 46: 8 out of 16 fighters made $10,000 or more
UFC 47: 6 out of 16 fighters made $10,000 or more

As you can see, if you want to make it big in the United States, you better fight in the UFC. If you are a UFC fighter and you want a big pay day, then Japan, who draws sometimes 50,000 to 100,000 fans in K-1 or Pride and is sometimes shown on free TV,can afford to pay you more money. It's all on the tickets sales you generate for an event and TV.

shironinja
4/08/2004 2:43am,
Good stuff. Thanks for posting the info. Guess it's ALL about the endorsements...!!

stoogejitsu
4/08/2004 2:56am,
King of the Cage pays you pennies, if anything, when your are first starting out, but I don't plan to make my living off of fighting so it's no big deal.

Hannibal
4/08/2004 3:01am,
Me neither. I don't mind training in martial arts but I can't male a living fighting in it.I'll keep my day job instead thanks.

sakurabar0x0rz
4/08/2004 3:06am,
great article. excellent info. def shows you a good number of these really aren't in it b/c its just the money. thanks for posting what you researched. i was real curious after seeing the smashing machine documentary, and then a KOTC documentary, as to how much they actually walk away with at the end of the day.

LOVED2BLOVED
4/08/2004 4:53am,
wow, $100000
for one fight

LOVED2BLOVED
4/08/2004 4:57am,
ahh , footballers earn $100000 a week, that isnt much after all i suppose

J-kid
4/08/2004 4:58am,
Originally posted by Hannibal
Me neither. I don't mind training in martial arts but I can't male a living fighting in it.I'll keep my day job instead thanks.

thought you didnt train or something?

bunyip
4/08/2004 5:03am,
Wow! I never thought about making a living fighting, but $100,000 for one fight! Thanks for opening my eyes, Omega!

drunkenj
4/08/2004 6:04am,
excellant info ---- but you forgot the hot chick bonus all these guys get whether they win or lose

Hannibal
4/08/2004 6:43am,
Hot chick bonus ? Hang on. Tell me more.

CaptShady
4/08/2004 7:51am,
That means the promoters are making BANK! One single PPV event makes fricken MILLIONS.

There's also a merchandising aspect that might come into play (I don't know). If you can buy a shirt, hat, whatever with these fighter's name on it, picture on it, etc .. then chances are they make more than what's listed above.

strats36
4/08/2004 8:02am,
Don't forget about medical expenses. I don't know if the fighters have medical coverage but since they are technically not employed by the UFC, etc. then I doubt it. That means all medical expenses will be out of pocket. That will take a huge chunk out of your money. Along with travel expenses and training costs. They would be lucky to break even.

Hannibal
4/08/2004 8:47am,
Yeah. The sad truth is most proffessional fighters around the world make peanuts. They just get smashed for a living.