Highest Paid UFC Fighters: Inside The Octagon’s Top Money Makers

Highest Paid UFC Fighters

Image: bleacherreport.com

There has been so much talk about the UFC fighter pay but some mixed martial artists have made a fortune by stepping inside the UFC Octagon.

Over the years, we’ve heard many complaints about how the UFC is underpaying its fighters. But while it’s true that there are fighters who probably deserve more than what they are being currently paid, it cannot be denied that there are also fighters who have made a fortune from fighting under the UFC banner.

Let’s take  look at the UFC’s top five career-earners:

Conor McGregor – $39.3 million USD  (~ $59.6 million AUD)

Highest Paid UFC Fighters - Conor Mcgregor via elitesportsny.com
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The man on top of the mountain is no surprise. Conor McGregor is the most recognizable fighter in mixed martial arts. Armed with a gift of gab and a powerful left hand punch, the Notorious is a two-division UFC champion. But McGregor didn’t just win belts, he also filled up stadiums and racked up millions of pay-per-view buys. It didn’t take long for him to become the UFC’s No.1 attraction.

As the UFC’s cash cow, McGregor has always been paid handsomely. His biggest fight purse ever was $5 million USD ( ~$7.58 million AUD) which he made during his UFC 257 and UFC 264 bouts against Dustin Poirier. Of course, fighter pay is just a miniscule of McGregor’s total income. He makes more in PPV share, endorsements, and business income. And yes, he made over $100 million USD (~$151.6 million AUD) when he boxed Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017.

Khabib Nurmagomedov – $22.9 million USD (~$34.7 million AUD)

Highest Paid UFC Fighters - Khabib Nurmagomedov via thesun.co.uk
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Khabib Nurmagomedov is the former UFC lightweight champion who retired with an unbeaten 29-0 record. Nurmagomedov officially ended McGregor’s reign in the UFC when he submitted the Irishman at UFC 229. The Eagle retired after beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in 2020 and has since focused on training fighters and running his own MMA promotion.

Although Khabib earned only $2 million USD (~$3.03 million AUD) against McGregor, he made a career-best $ 6 million USD ( $9.09 million AUD) each for his last two UFC bouts against Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. However, his win over McGregor was likely his most lucrative match. Aside from his fighter pay and undisclosed PPV share, Nurmagomedov also reportedly received $20 million worth of properties from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Alistair Overeem – $15.4 million USD (~$23.4 million AUD)

Highest Paid UFC Fighters - Alistair Overeem via mmafighting.com
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Alistair Overeem was the first combat sports fighter to win world championships in kickboxing and mixed martial arts. The Demolition Man was a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, Dream Heavyweight Champion, and K-1 World Grand Prix Champion.  He also unsuccessfully challenged for the UFC belt at UFC 203 but lost to Spite Miocic.

As far as his UFC fortune is concerned, he wasn’t really paid as much as McGregor and Khabib did. However, because he was already an established name when he got to the UFC, Overeem consistently earned six-digit salaries which added up to his total. Reem never made at least $1 million in a fight and his highest salary was at $850,000 USD (~$1.28 million AUD) when he fought at UFC 218, 225, and UFC Fight Night 141.

Anderson Silva – $13.5 million USD ($20.4 million AUD)

Highest Paid UFC Fighters - Anderson Silva via rollingstone.com
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Anderson Silva is the longest-reigning champion in UFC history. The Spider was the UFC middleweight champion for a total of 2,457 days. His reign began in 2006 and ended in 2013. During this span, Silva won a total of 16 consecutive fights and made a record 10 consecutive successful defences of the 185-pound title.

Silva did not have a single seven-figure pay for a UFC bout. However, after only three fights in the promotion, Anderson made at least $200,000 USD (~$302,300 AUD). Factor in that he fought 25 times inside the Octagon and that’s why he’s among the top UFC earners of all time. The Spider’s highest pay ever was $820,000 USD (~$1.23 million AUD) when he fought Derek Brunson in 2017.

Andre Arlovski – $11.2 million USD ($16.9 million AUD)

Highest Paid UFC Fighters - Andre Arlovski via thesportster.com
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Andre Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champion and the first UFC champion from Belarus. Known as the Belarusian Pitbull, Arlovski also fought under Strikeforce, WSOF, ONE, and Pro Elite. Like Anderson Silva, he didn’t have a million-dollar payday in the UFC but because he’s fought the second most bouts ever in the UFC at 41 fights, he has accumulated millions in fighter pay.

Arlovski averaged over $232,000 USD (~$3.5 million AUD) in base salary per fight so that explains why he made a lot of money in the UFC. His highest pay day was $325,000 USD (~490,000 AUD) when he fought Carlos Felipe at UFC Vegas 40 in 2021. The Pitbull is already 45 years old but is still fighting in the UFC. Arlovski is expected to fight Martin Buday at UFC 303 next month.