MMA judges eye-opening pay is revealed

We never knew how terribly MMA judges were paid before.
UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje
UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

In the midst of all the UFC 300 excitement UFC welterweight Gilbert Burns dropped a bit of a bombshell about MMA judging. According to the former title challenger, judges are paid less than your car payment (probably).

He explained that MMA judges are paid $300 to work an event at the UFC APEX and $500 to judge a UFC PPV event in Nevada.

"These guys are making $300 for an event in the APEX Center and $500 for a pay-per-view event," he said. "It got me thinking, how come you're gonna ask the judge to do a great job if the commission is not paying these guys right? It's not even the UFC, the UFC throw a lot of money at the commission, the commission brings the judges. But [the judges] are not making any money."

How much to MMA judges get paid?

Aaron Bronsteter a journalist working with SportsNet pulled up the figures for both California and Nevada, debunking Burns' claims. According to his digging, California judges make a minimum of $1,600 to judge a UFC fight in the state. He also shared a screenshot from an unknown article stating that the judges were paid $2,300 to work a recent UFC PPV in Nevada.

We have reached out to the NSAC to confirm these figures but haven't gotten a response back yet. Either way, both paydays are eye-opening and could be why it's hard to find good, experienced judges.

MMA judging has been a big controversy in the sport. Some feel the judges are not in line with judging criteria, some have little to no experience with MMA as a sport and some have even been accused of throwing fights or terrible life-changing scorecards.

The most recent controversy came via a judge's scorecard during the Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko rematch. Judge Michael Bell scored the final round 10-8 in favor of Grasso forcing a draw on the fight. Fans were split about who the winner of the fight was, but not spit on the round in which he scored controversially. Even UFC CEO Dana White spoke on the flub.

“When I found out that one of the judges scored 10-8, I’m like, this guy should be f****** investigated for this," he said at the post-fight press conference. "This is the craziest s*** I’ve ever seen in my life. You have to have the best of the best in title fights. So they’ve assured me that this guy isn’t a bad guy, he just f***** up and made a mistake, and it’s unfortunate, and there’s no way in hell that was a 10-8 round.

The pair are set for a trilogy fight later this year.


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