How much do MMA fighters make?
Fighter pay in MMA has long been a hot-button issue and is a constant source of debate among fans, fighters, and talking heads. To answer the question “how much do MMA fighters make” in the simplest way possible: not enough.
Currently, fighter pay in MMA is paid out on a show/win basis, meaning that fighter gets half of their contracted money for “showing” (making weight and fighting). Should a fighter lose, they will only receive their show money. Should the fighter win, they will receive a second purse worth the same amount as their show money. For example, a fighter on a 10K show/10K win contract would receive 10K for a bout they lost and 20K for a bout they win.
Those are also not theoretical numbers, currently, the standard Dana White’s Contender Series contract, where the majority of new talent the UFC signs comes from these days, is a scaled four-fight contract beginning at 10/10 and scaling up to 12/12, 14/14, and 16/16 if a fighter makes it through all four fights with the promotion.
The other main source of fighter pay is fight night bonuses. At the end of each UFC event, Dana White arbitrarily awards Performance of the Night bonuses and/or Fight of the Night bonused. Each receives 50K. Sometimes White feels "generous" and awards additional bonuses for larger events or to every fighter with a finish.
A weird subset of billionaire defending fans will also tell you that the UFC gives out “locker room bonuses” or discretionary bonuses off the books as they see fit, but the majority of fighters who have spoken on the matter have revealed these bonuses are few and far between and rarely worth more than a few thousand dollars.
There's also a small payout for the athlete outfitting which comes from the Venum fight gear they wear and champions are also given PPV shares, though exact figures are rarely given.
Why is UFC fighter pay hidden?
Another key point to note is that in most states, the athlete's pay is kept hidden from the media so exact figures are not known like they used to be.
The class action lawsuit against Zuffa and the UFC revealed fighters wind up with about 17 percent of the total revenue the UFC pulls in, and that has been a point of contention between fans, media, and even the fighters. But, without a fighters union, we don't see anything changing anytime soon.