The recent conflict between former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Dana White has brought unfair athlete remuneration to light.
According to Way Of Martial Arts, the average UFC fighter earned $147,965 in 2020. According to the research, 38 percent of the company’s roster earned six figures in 2020. Khabib Nurmagomedov, who faced Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 last year, became the biggest earner among the champions, earning close to $6 million.
Meanwhile, previous champion Petr Yan was the lowest-paid champion, earning $230,000 per year. It should be noted that these are basic pay and do not include their PPV income sharing.
The average fighter’s wage (excluding pay-per-view headliners) includes the appearance fee as well as the victor’s win bonus. The fighter is also given a fight week incentive pay based on his or her UFC experience. After the promotion struck a partnership with clothing partner Venum, the payscale was recently increased by a whopping $1 million.
Furthermore, the UFC awards financial incentives to its fighters who perform extraordinarily well, namely ‘Fight of the Night’ and ‘Performance of the Night’ incentives. These incentives are normally worth $50,000 each. However, at UFC 262, the incentives were raised to $75,000 when Tony Ferguson requested for pay hike at the pre-fight press conference.
It’s worth noting that average compensation does not account for how much new fighters on the roster make, which might be less than $10,000 for their first few fights.
The compensation packages of UFC athletes vary significantly, which has a lot to do with popularity. Paige VanZant famously pursued free agency, alleging insufficient remuneration, which she alleged was $46,000 to show and $46,000 to win according to her contract.
Jon Jones openly criticised the UFC’s top leadership over money
Following a public battle with White over improper wages, Jones allegedly lost his 205-pound crown in 2020. The UFC president admitted that he is hesitant to give such a large sum to the former champion.
“I don’t want to go there with this guy. The guy has made a lot of money. If you look at Jon Jones’ track record, show me somebody that has the track record this guy has and has made the money that Jon Jones has made. Doesn’t happen,” White said.
It’s unclear when the former UFC champion will make his long-awaited comeback to the octagon.