Many sports fans assume that UFC competitors we tune in to see on TV are as financially well off as baseball, basketball, and football players. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why the huge disparity in income? In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), combatants are not represented by unions. New entrants to the sport, all of whom are mostly unknown, are offered a fixed amount to fight, a bonus for winning, and a small amount to promote Reebok products. From that take, they have to pay all their expenses. Here are some key facts that you probably did not know about these modern-day gladiators and the money they make.
Typical Competitors Earnings May Surprise You
A recent study from Betway revealed that the average Ultimate Fighting Championship professional earns $138,000 per year. Keep in mind that figure is a mathematical average, which means even top earners are included in the data. A more realistic measurement is median income, which is what the middle earners bring home. For the UFC, the median is nowhere near $138,000, but closer to half that, coming in at $68,500.
UFC Fighters Have No Unions
Unlike most other professional sports leagues in which participants are expected to earn a living from their income, Ultimate Fighting Championship competitors are left to fend for themselves when it comes to salary negotiation. For new members of the league, that means they have zero power when it comes time to discuss earnings with promoters and managers. Maybe that’s why these fighters, who take harsh physical poundings week after week, even when they win, earn far less that football & basketball players, pro golfers, and even the average assembly line worker in an automotive factory.
Ultimate Fighting is Most Like Boxing When It Comes to Earnings
In both professional boxing and mixed martial arts competition, participants on the high end of the money scale rake in millions each year, snag lucrative product endorsements, and cash in on their famous names. But that happy situation applies only to the biggest of the big celebrities in the two sports. The average, everyday participant is lucky to cover travel, management, and training expenses and come home with a decent salary at the end of the year.
Careers are Short, Which Could be a Blessing
Have you ever noticed that except for the major names, you rarely see mixed martial arts fighters coming back year after year? There’s a good reason for that. It’s because most careers are shorter than two years. What takes these guys out? In addition to the horrible wages, lack of union representation, and almost constant travel, many participants suffer career-ending injuries during their first few months as professionals.
Medical Insurance Ends When Pros Leave the League
Consider the many types of health problems the typical mixed martial arts competitor faces. In addition to neck, back, kidney, and head injuries, broken arms and legs are also common. Even though league insurance covers medical care during a career, those policies end when a pro says goodbye to competition. That means recurring medical issues, primarily things like severe back and neck problems, never really go away and can become a financial drain on former combatants.
Some data was taken from UFC Betting site Betway.