5 Ways an MMA Fighter Can Make Money [Fighter Tips]

Ronda Rousey - UFC Endorsement

Ronda Rousey [Credit: UFC Magazine]

“5 Ways an MMA Fighter Can Make Money”
By Dan Corvino

A lot of people want to know ways that a Mixed Martial Arts fighter makes money, and how much they make. This could be out of pure curiosity, or perhaps due to the growing popularity of MMA, there are a lot of potential fighters researching their options. Whichever the case, I decided to outline some of the ways that MMA fighters can make an income, and the potential earnings for each one. There are 5 main ways that MMA Fighters make an income: Fights, Endorsements, Owning a School, Fight Seminars, Appearances.

Fights

One of the main ways that an MMA fighter makes money is through their fights. Smaller promotions will pay between $500 – $800 per event for showing. Fighters may get an additional pay out for a win. As you get to the larger factions such as WEC, UFC, Strikeforce, etc. Fighters will get anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for lower or middle card fighters. The big name fighters can make anywhere from $20,000 to over $200,000 per event. Some of this salary is based on PPV buys. The main event fighters usually get a portion of the PPV as opposed to a flat salary. Fighters can also receive incentive based bonuses. In a recent UFC event, Dana White announced pay outs of $25,000 for the “Knock Out of the Night” and $6,500 for anyone who won their match by submission. It was also reported that at UFC 95 each fighter received a $40,000 bonus for Fight, Submission and Knock Out of the Night.

Endorsements

Once again, the amount of money you receive depends on your popularity, status and frequency of fights. Beginning or lower card fighters will be lucky to get free equipment and apparell, while big name fighters receive cash payments and reasonably sized contracts to endorse and wear the manufacturers products. Middle card fighters will receive a small amount of cash in addition to freebies. The details of such contracts are typically not public information and finding even the littlest piece of information on the numbers is particularly difficult, however it has been reported that bigger names of the sport such as Randy Couture or Frank Mir have received endorsement contracts that are multi million dollar deals.

Owning A School

There are a decent amount of MMA fighters that are capilatizing on their popularity by opening up their own school, whether it be for Muay Thai, MMA or BJJ. Such names include Randy Couture, Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida and even current The Ultimate Fighter contestant, Santino DeFranco. Depending on the size and popularity of the school, owner/instructors can make anywhere from $35,000 to over $250,000 a year. This is dependent on student population, tutition rate, private lessons and merchandise sales. UFC is currently opening 3 gyms that are targeted exclusively towards training for Mixed Martial Arts. These locations will be in California, Hawaii and Montreal. There is no doubt that these locations will be top of the line training facilities that will become cash cows for the company.

Seminars

Some MMA fighters who may not own a school hit the seminar circuit visiting different MMA or BJJ schools across the country doing seminars and making pretty good money in the process. Kenny Florian recently did this along with his brother Keith, visiting several schools including Balance Studios in Philadelphia, which I have trained at. Depening on the popularity of the star they can receive anywhere from $1000-$4000 per appearance. In addition they usually have their expenses such as flight, food and accommodations paid for.

Appearances

As opposed to a seminar which is a private instructional appearance, some stars get hired for other public events such as opening of a store, night club appearance, casino appearances, trade shows and other public events. The contract for this is usually the same as for a seminar covering room, travel and food expenses. Rates can be anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 per event depending on who the event host/sponsor is.

I hope this gave you some insight into the ways that an MMA fighter can make money. There are many factors that help determine this such as the popularity of the fighter, how good their agents are, etc. This is the first of an ongoing “How To” series that I am starting which will cover everything from training techniques to personal inquires. DansMuayThaiMMA.com – Traveling The World Training Martial Arts!

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