As the UFC as a brand and MMA as a sport continue to grow at a rapid rate, it doesn’t come as a huge shock to see that fighters purses are increasing as the investment into the UFC rises.
In this article, we will look at the highest paid UFC fighters of all time, as reported by Statista. This list does not include earnings from outside of the UFC, such as sponsors, other business ventures or any form of other income stream. This list is purely based on the money these 10 fighters earned or are still earning whilst fighting in the UFC.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 highest paid UFC fighters of all time, working our way from 10th to 1st…
Top 10 Best Paid UFC Fighters Of All Time
10. Junior dos Santos – $5,970,000
Perhaps a shock to some people to see Junior dos Santos’ name inside the top ten highest paid UFC fighters of all time, but he fought over 20 times in the UFC and earnt six figure pay cheques on six of those occasions.
‘Cigano’ was once ranked in the top 10 pound-for-pound (P4P) list, when he was dominating the heavyweight division and reigned supreme as champion both in 2011 and 2012.
The Brazilian former UFC heavyweight star earned around $830,000 when he challenged Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Title at UFC 211 in May 2017. He lost the fight but purses like this are why Junior dos Santos features inside the highest paid UFC fighters of all time list.
9. Donald Cerrone – $6,155,000
Not a shock inclusion here at number nine, as Donald Cerrone makes it into the top ten best paid UFC fighters of all time list. Cerrone has had over 50 fights in his professional MMA career, including numerous fights in the UFC.
‘Cowboy’ has always been one of the most entertaining fighters on the UFC roster, constantly providing fans with ‘Fight of the Night’ contenders bout after bout. In fact, Cerrone holds the record for the most ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses in UFC history, which will have certainly boosted his wealth over the years.
Another reason Cerrone features inside the top 10 is because he stepped inside the octagon to face none other than Conor McGregor at UFC 246. Despite the fact Cerrone was past it and approaching his 37th birthday, he earned almost a quarter of a million dollars for that fight alone.
‘Cowboy’ is still fighting today in the UFC and is scheduled to face Joe Lauzon this weekend. Don’t be surprised if he notched up yet another ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus and catapulted himself even further up this list!
8. Mark Hunt – $6,304,000
Perhaps the biggest shock inclusion in this list is Mark Hunt. The hard hitting New Zealander never fought for the UFC Heavyweight title, but did fight the ‘who’s who’ of the division across his eight year UFC career.
The biggest reason as to why Hunt earned this much and is on this list is because of the fight with Brock Lesnar at UFC 200. Lesnar originally won the fight, but later tested positive for the banned substance clomiphene, which meant the fight was overturned to a no contest.
After the Lesnar fight, ‘The Super Samoan’ earned six-figure paycheques in each of his next five fights. Even though Hunt only won one of the five, he earned an absolute fortune and rightly so.
Hunt was paid upwards of $800,000 following his bout with Derrick Lewis, which was the highest purse of his career. It was also deemed ‘Fight of the Night’ so there was that added bonus too for both Hunt and Lewis.
7. Jon Jones – $7,025,000
No surprise here at number seven, as arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, Jon Jones, has earned over $7 million in his UFC career to date. Jones isn’t done yet either, and has his sights set on the UFC Heavyweight Title after stepping up from light-heavyweight and relinquishing his belt.
‘Bones’ sat at the top of the P4P list for years, and headlined a staggering 15 UFC pay-per-view events. The vast majority of these fights were title bouts or defences, seemingly contributing a mouth-watering sum of money to his financial portfolio.
Jones highest career payday was at UFC 214, when he defeated long standing rival, Daniel Cormier, for the second time. Not only did ‘Bone’s prevail on the night, but he walked away with around $600,000 as well.
Don’t be surprised to see Jones name right up near the top of this list in 12 months time, if he does beat the likes of Stipe Miocic and UFC Heavyweight Champion, Francis Ngannou, in the next year or so.
6. George St-Pierre – $7,037,000
Like Jones, George St-Pierre is widely regarded as one of the best UFC fighters to ever grace the octagon. The Canadian reigned supreme and defending the 170-pound title nine times, after first winning it in 2006,before losing it but regaining it in 2008.
‘GSP’ then made nine successful title defences from 2008 to 2013, avenging the only two losses on his record in the process. This staggering run of fights will have accumulated a huge sum of money for ‘Rush’, but his biggest payday came on his return to the UFC, four years after his original retirement.
St-Pierre returned to the octagon in November 2017 where he faced UFC Middleweight Champion, Michael Bisping. He earned an unbelievable $2,580,000 purely for this fight, which shows how much he was worth to UFC President, Dana White, that he could afford to pay St-Pierre this much for coming out of retirement.
St-Pierre became only the fourth fighter in UFC history to become a multi-division world champion with his win for the UFC Middleweight Title against the Englishman, Bisping.
5. Michael Bisping – $7,135,000
In at number five on the top ten list of the highest paid UFC fighters of all time is former UFC Middleweight Champion turned UFC commentator, Michael Bisping.
‘The Count’ achieved the biggest purse of his career when he fought number six on this list, George St-Pierre, earning a tidy $550,000, despite losing the fight. This hefty figure was by far the biggest of Bisping’s career, but the main reason he is on this list is because of how long his illustrious career was.
Bisping fought in the UFC from 2006 to 2017, which included 29 fights in this eleven year period. Most notably, bar the ‘GSP’ defeat, Bisping’s biggest paydays were when he wont the title against Luke Rockhold in 2016 in their rematch, and when he fought one of the greatest of all time in Anderson Silva in what was ‘Fight of the Night’ in London.
Bisping achieved more than he could have ever dreamed of throughout his mixed martial arts career, and is happily enjoying the retired life now and deservedly so.
4. Anderson Silva – $8,112,000
Next on the list as we approach the top three of the highest paid UFC fighters of all time is none other than one of the greatest fighters of all time, Mr Anderson Silva.
Silva fought 25 times in the UFC across a 14 year career in the organisation. Not only was Silva one of the longest serving fighters on the UFC roster, he was arguably one of, if not the most successful of the lot.
‘The Spider’ defended his UFC Middleweight Title 10 times, and actually won the belt on only his second fight in the UFC. The Brazilian earnt his first six-figure paycheque in just his fourth UFC fight, and continued to do so for his next 21 fights in the UFC in what was a hugely fruitful professional MMA career for him.
Silva’s highest payday was in 2018, when he fought Derek Brunson. Silva was coming near the end of his career at this point, but still earnt a magnificent $820,000 for the fight that was the co-main event of UFC 208.
3. Alistair Overeem – $9,569,500
In at number three and possibly a surprise to some people as he never actually won a UFC title, is Alistair Overeem. The Dutch heavyweight announced himself to the world on his UFC debut, knocking out Brock Lesnar in the first round.
After this, the only way was up for Overeem, who fought another 19 times after this in the UFC. In his bouts since roughly 2016 to his last fight in February 2021, Overeem earned over half a million dollars in each of them.
Overeem also topped the $800,000 mark on numerous occasions, which is why he is so high up this list. Even in his farewell fight against Alexander Volkov when he was knocked out in the second round, ‘The Reem’ walked away having earned over $500,000 for the fight.
It is safe to say that although Overeem never actually won UFC gold, he was involved in his fair share of huge fights and spectacular events, hence why he features at number three in the highest paid UFC fighters of all time list.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov – $13,250,000
In at number two on the top 10 highest paid UFC fighters of all time is the undefeated Russian monster, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
This comes as no surprise as Nurmagomedov reigned supreme in the lightweight division for three years, which included wins over the likes of Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
It is reported that ‘The Eagle’ earned almost $5 million for his farewell fight at UFC 254, as well as huge sums of money against both ‘Mr pay-per-view’, Conor McGregor, and Dustin Poirier.
Khabib announced his retirement in March 2021, but the door is still most certainly ajar for ‘The Eagle’ to make a highly anticipated return in the future that could easily push him up right to the top of this list.
1. Conor McGregor – $25,183,000
In at number one and coming as no surprise, as McGregor himself would say, “to absolutely nobody!”, is the notorious one, Mr Conor McGregor.
‘Notorious’ is the biggest draw the UFC have ever had, and no doubt will ever have, with McGregor earning seven figure paydays in his last five UFC fights. To this day, he is the only fighter to draw this size of purse ever.
Remember that this list is purely based on earnings inside the UFC octagon, not MMA fights in other organisations or fights in other sports, so this figure may actually seem a bit low to the majority of UFC fans.
McGregor, despite losing the fight, reportedly earned nearly $50 million all in for the Khabib Nurmagomedov fight. This includes everything, not just his UFC purse, so the Irishman’s wealth is actually far higher than this list indicates.
Another thing worth mentioning is when McGregor stepped into the boxing ring to fight arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. The Irishman’s disclosed free for this bout was around $30 million, but the likelihood is that this figure was higher after all of the sponsorships, add-ons and pay-per-view bonuses. It is rumoured the former double-UFC champion earned somewhere nearer to $75 million for the Mayweather boxing bout.
McGregor is the money man, the UFC’s golden boy. He is a smart man too, earning plenty of money outside of fighting, with the launch of his own whiskey in 2018, Proper Twelve, as well as owning numerous properties and owning a hugely successful pub in Dublin too, The Black Forge Inn.
It comes as no surprise whatsoever that he tops the list of the highest paid UFC fighters of all time.
Disclaimer: This list is based purely off career earnings in the UFC organisation. This does not include sponsorships or any other career earnings outside of the UFC octagon.