The paychecks in the UFC can vary a lot based on many factors. There’s no union in the UFC, so some fighters actually get paid less to fight than the UFC’s ring girls get paid. However, the best-paid fighters can stand to make millions. Here’s a look at which UFC weight class gets paid the most.
The 185-pound middleweight division
This is one of the UFC’s oldest divisions, and it has also been one of its most lucrative. This is thanks to the long title reign of Anderson Silva, one of the UFC’s greatest champions of all time. Silva started fighting in the UFC in 2006, and he won the middleweight title in his second fight. He then went on to dominate his competition for almost seven years.
Silva defended his title 10 times, usually by knocking his opponent out. This long and dominant reign made him famous, but also very wealthy. People also watched his opponents fight, as many wondered who could beat him.
Even after he lost his title in 2013 though, his opponent, Chris Weidman, became relatively famous as well. Although Weidman would eventually lose his title, many middleweight champs have been well-paid since Silva.
Silva has made at least $6.8 million fighting in his division. His opponents, as well as future middleweight champions, such as Michael Bisping or Georges St-Pierre, have also made millions fighting in the division.
The 265-pound heavyweight division
Just like in boxing, the UFC’s heavyweight division has always been a popular and profitable division. Some people just like watching the biggest men try to knock each other out. And the UFC’s heavyweight division has plenty of big men who have knockout power that rival the likes of Mike Tyson.
On top of that, the UFC has had a lot of big stars at heavyweight. For example, WWE superstar Brock Lesnar was not only a heavyweight fighter, but he also became the heavyweight champion. Lesnar has only fought eight times in the UFC, and he’s already made at least $5.1 million from those bouts.
Even less popular heavyweight fighters can make a lot of money in the division. For example, The Sports Daily says that Francis Ngannou made at least $300,000 for knocking out Junior dos Santos in 71 seconds.
One of the reasons why heavyweights like Ngannou, who has never been a champion, gets paid so much is because of performance bonuses. People love knockouts, and great knockouts, usually delivered by heavyweights, may get that bonus.
The 155-pound lightweight division
The UFC’s lightweight division hasn’t been its biggest division nor has it been its most lucrative division until very recently. The lightweight division has had popular champions, such as Anthony Pettis, but its popularity, and thus, paychecks, have blown up recently due to two men.
Conor McGregor is not only the most popular UFC fighter, but in the short time that he’s been fighting at lightweight, he’s also become the most well-paid fighter, too. As a result of his popularity, his opponents have also gotten a boost in popularity and paychecks.
The biggest example of this is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has become a superstar himself. Nurmagomedov isn’t paid as much as McGregor is, but Nurmagomedov is easily one of the most well-paid fighters in the UFC due to his recent popularity. The popularity of these two men have also raised the pay of everyone else in the division, as the division has become highly competitive and lucrative.
For example, Nurmagomedov and his opponents, such as Tony Ferguson, are so popular that the UFC is trying its best to make UFC 249 happen despite the Coronavirus pandemic. This couldn’t happen if either men weren’t popular or compensated enough.