Figure 1 Many of the richest UFC fighters have made money in different kinds of rings
It used to be boxing heavyweight champions that everyone knew. It didn’t matter whether you were a fan of the sport or not, you knew about Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield. Going even further back, the likes of Muhammad Ali became so much more than just boxers, transcending into the mainstream.
But in recent years, mixed martial arts has been growing in popularity – and the biggest organization in that sport is UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship. You may need some help when it comes to UFC betting online, but the biggest names are definitely beginning to make their presence felt. They are certainly starting to earn some big sums of money.
There are athletes in other sports that still dwarf MMA when it comes to pay and endorsements. But those at the top of the UFC are making a very tidy profit from their fights. Here are some of the fighters that can boast the highest career earnings so far.
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This notorious Irish fighter hasn’t even stepped into the UFC Octagon for two years. But he still leads the way when it comes to earnings. McGregor has made a career of being very good at what he does – and for being very good at making sure everyone knows that he is very good at his job.
Although he is still one of the biggest names in the UFC, he is also well-known outside of MMA thanks to his hugely successful pay-per-view boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather. McGregor is estimated to have made around $20 million in his career so far, with a lot of that coming from non-UFC sources.
This former MMA champion, who retired with a perfect record of 29 UFC wins and no losses, was originally a two-time Combat Sambo world champion, another organization within the sport. He made around $30 million from his time in UFC and most famously made his first defense of his lightweight title against Conor McGregor.
That fight against McGregor in 2018 was one of the biggest events in the history of the sport, with 2.4 million buys on pay-per-view. That is where Nurmagomedov obviously made a lot of his money. The Russian fighter beat the best in his weight division and then bowed out at the very top of his game.
Georges St. Pierre
G.S.P. is considered one of the very best MMA fighters of all time and boasts one of the best records in the sport. He earned around $30 million from his time in the Octagon and won legions of fans for his attitude and fighting skills. After initially retiring in 2013, he came back to claim the middleweight title after an absence of four years.
St. Pierre had originally been a two-time welterweight champion but left the sport due to mental health reasons. His comeback was warmly greeted but he unfortunately had to retire for a second time almost immediately. Still a much-loved figure of UFC, G.S.P. has also featured in a number of TV shows and movies.
“The Beast” is credited with bringing a whole new legion of fans to UFC after years of being a top name in WWE. After wrestling in college, Lesnar joined the pro wrestling organization and became a huge fans’ favorite before walking away from the ring to fulfill a dream of playing in the NFL.
He did play a few preseason games for the Minnesota Vikings but returned to WWE before making a further move to UFC. His marketability earned him millions in MMA, as he became the heavyweight champion. Lesnar returned, once again, to WWE in 2021 and still remains one of the biggest names.
This Brazilian fighter may have only won one of his bouts since 2012, but he is considered to be one of the best in UFC history, still holding the record for the longest title reign – a staggering 2,457 days. That was when he was the middleweight champion.
Silva’s striking power and knockout punching earned him many fans – and a lot of money. He may not have fought in UFC since 2020, but he has returned to boxing and faced the likes of Jake Paul and Tito Ortiz in pay-per-view events. It is unclear whether he will enter the ring again but he is estimated to have made around $20 million from his fighting skills.
Figure 2 All UFC fighters train to make the money that these men have in their careers
For a fighter who never actually held a belt in UFC, Alistair Overeem certainly did well during his time in the Octagon. It is thought that the Dutch-English fighter banked around $20 million from his time in the sport, never receiving less than a six-figure check for a bout.
Much of his financial success from UFC came about because of his performance in his very first fight. After a successful career in lesser MMA organizations, Overeem beat Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 and became a very popular figure overnight. He did unsuccessfully challenge for the heavyweight crown on one occasion but still retired with his head held high – and with a healthy bank balance.
The current UFC heavyweight champion, Jon Jones is a controversial figure but still makes our list as one of the highest-paid characters in the sport. He came back after a three-year absence to claim that most recent title, but had been at loggerheads with UFC president Dana White about moving up a division.
Jones had previously been a two-time light heavyweight champion but has had to relinquish his belt on a number of occasions because of non-sporting reasons. He has still been able to earn around $10 million though – and has the ability to pocket much more now that he is a champion once again.