The salaries of UFC fighters often causes controversy in the media. Fighters will publicly discuss how they're underpaid when compared to athletes from other sports and payment disputes during contract negotiations have even caused fighters to vacate their own championship titles.
While on the other hand, UFC's biggest star Conor McGregor was reported to be the world's highest paid athlete earlier this year, taking home a whopping £136$180 million between May 2020-21. The bulk of it did come from his endorsements and activity outside of the octagon.
But despite some fighters' dismay at the financial situation within the sport, Parimatch's MMA Earnings tool reveals that salaries have increased by almost 15% on average annually over the past five years. However, it still finds itself someway off some of the world's biggest sports as the study reveals.
Using the tool below, see how MMA fares against leagues such as the Premier League, NFL and MLB, as well as how fighters compete financially against superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James and Dak Prescott.
UFC is a sport that's grown in popularity significantly and it's reflected financially, with salaries rising by almost 15% annually over the last five years alone.
This puts it ahead of the likes of NBA, NFL, and the Premier League in terms of how its athletes have seen their salaries grow, with only the NHL seeing a reduction during that period.
UFC is home to huge stars such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor and Junior dos Santos who take home the biggest salaries. But despite the increase, many fighters will publicly discuss how they're underpaid and get involved in high profile disputes as the UFC is still some way behind other sports overall financially.
Along with seeing a rise in overall salaries, UFC boasts one of the strongest average earnings per events versus other sports around the world.
On average, fighters take home £203,285 per event which is more than the likes of the NBA (£164,068) and the Premier League (£156,314) that are its nearest competitors.
On average, fighters take home $351,948 per event which is more than the likes of the NBA ($284,051) and the Premier League ($270,626) that are its nearest competitors.
This comes courtesy of the sport featuring fewer events during the year, with most fighters in action just once or twice a year. This gives them time to recover from the various inevitable injuries they pick up in each bout.
However, despite averaging 15.5 more events a year than UFC, NFL leads the way in terms of average earnings with a total figure of just over £405,452$700,000 per event. Putting it substantially ahead of any other major league in the world of sport.
To earn some of the huge sums that are around in sport, you need to be extremely marketable and at the peak of your powers on the field, something which each of the top ten earners are.
The list features some of the biggest names around, with UFC's Conor McGregor leading the way after earning £136m between May 2020-21. This is despite the sport paying lower salaries than that of the featured major leagues around the world. But the Irishman leads the way due to his off the field work, making £120m from his own business and partnerships with big brands.
The list features some of the biggest names around, with UFC's Conor McGregor leading the way after earning $180m from May 2020-21. This is despite the sport paying lower salaries than that of the featured major leagues around the world. But the Irishmen leads the way due to his off the field work, making $158m from his own business and partnerships with big brands.
Eight of the world's ten highest earning athletes have made £20m$30m or more in off the field earnings in that period, proving that excellence on the field won't only land you success on it, but big deals off it.
The top three is made up by Lionel Messi (£99m) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£91m) who despite being two of the greatest football players of all time, still find themselves someway off McGregor in terms of earnings.
The top three is made up by Lionel Messi ($130m) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($120m) who despite being two of the greatest soccer players of all time, still find themselves someway off McGregor in terms of earnings.
They're also joined by Messi's new teammate from PSG, Neymar, which makes football the most represented sport in the top ten earners. Followed by Basketball (LeBron James & Kevin Durant) and American Football (Dak Prescott & Tom Brady).
Money in sport is huge and the data shows just how it's growing on the field, along with how endorsements off it are becoming an increased part of an athlete's salary.
Delve deeper into the earnings of some of the biggest names from the world of sport, featuring stars from seven of the biggest leagues.
Toggle between the sport, salary, events and per event earnings to see how some of the world's biggest earners compare against each other financially on the field.
We looked at the salaries of the top 100 earners in seven different sports (UFC, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA, EPL) between 2015-2021 along with the top 10 earners across each of these sports, for further analysis around per event earnings.
Data for sports top ten earners was sourced from Forbes' highest paid athletes which highlights both on & off the field earnings between 1st May 2020 - 1st May 2021.
Sports biggest earners salary data is sourced from Spotrac, MMA Salaries & ESPN from 2020. MLB salaries are from the 2019 season.