Fighter Pay: The Downside of MMA

A week ago, MMA bad boy Nick Diaz, announced his plans to compete as a professional boxer in 2011. Diaz cited money as one of the reasons he was contemplating giving boxing another shot. Most MMA fans understand Diaz’s point, as full contact fighters are yet to make anything close to their counterparts in boxing or any other sport for that matter.

ESPN The Magazine ” released a list of the top paid athletes in various sports, and MMA fans will be shocked to see how far behind the sport really is. Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar was the highest paid MMA fighter in 2010, bringing in a total of $5.3 million in prize money and pay-per-view shares. Manny Pacquiao led the sport of boxing, making 32 million dollars in only two fights.

Given the fact that MMA has become even more popular than boxing, it is easy to understand why fighters like Nick Diaz feel disgruntled with the sport. The UFC and Zuffa are obviously doing very well financially, as their gradual takeover of the sport has clearly indicated. Yet, their fighters are still underpaid, especially given all the risks involved with MMA.

To be fair to the UFC, fighter pay has gradually increased over the years. They are still the most lucrative MMA promotion from a fighter’s angle, and they deserve a lot of credit for the sport’s growing popularity. Many around the sport of MMA would just like to see those who put it all on the line, get rewarded for their actions.

MMA will never reach its peak, until fighters start getting similar checks to other professional athletes. Brock Lesnar’s 2010 earnings, was not even a quarter of what the highest paid boxer, basketball player (Kobe Bryant $24.8 million), or baseball player (Alex Rodriguez $32 million) made in the same year.

Right now, that kid that has a promising future in sports isn’t thinking of MMA, he/she is thinking of sports like baseball, basketball or football where athletes are properly compensated for their work. Why get kicked in the face for little pay when you can make a lot more money in less demanding sports?


John Mastroberardino,” Best-paid athletes in 30 sports ” ESPN The Magazine

Leave a Comment