The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the largest promotion company in the world of mixed martial arts. Since its inception in November of 1993, the UFC has grown to the level of producing worldwide events and hosting some of the most top-ranked fighters in the sport. The purse earnings of UFC fighters continues to grow as the organization expands, and 2013 is becoming a big year for the company. While earnings may differ among fighters based on experience and popularity, there are some fighters in the UFC who have been making substantial amounts of money with payouts in the hundreds of thousands per fight.
There is no doubt that each fighter is valued in the world of UFC and the company has become one of the most popular venues for watching top quality MMA fights. And with events going on outside of the United States as well as the increasing popularity of pay-per-view events, the UFC is growing at a faster rate than ever. This is reflected in the fact that fighters get paid for just showing up, often with additional bonuses for winning, knockouts, etc. Between media exposure and fluctuating win/loss records, the following list of fighters not only shows us who has earned the most money in the UFC in 2013, but also gives fans an idea of who to look for and who to pay attention to as the year comes to a close. As fighters continue to battle for higher rankings within their division, their purse earnings will vary but they will continue to bring in the paychecks that are the envy of up and coming fighters, giving them something to work towards.
This is a list of the top ten highest earners in the UFC this year. This list is based on the payouts that have been made known to the public. It wasn’t until 2004 that the athletic commissions began to release fighter purse information, however these same commissions have yet to release precise fighter salary information, so these numbers will be based on other information and factors that have been made available to the public. There are many fighters who get paid additional bonuses, plus a cut of the profits from the fights that they headline, as well as additional money from sponsors that have the potential to make up a substantial amount of the fighter’s annual income. This list has been compiled based only on what these fighters have earned in their fights, plus bonuses. While the numbers noted here are as accurate as can be, know that these fighters are likely making much more than what the public is aware of. Of course, as fighters earn money, there are also deductions for insurance, taxes, and licenses. Regardless of deductions, it’s hard to dismiss the impressive earnings that these fighters make year after year.
9. Hector “Lightening” Lombard (Tied) – $600,000 in 2013
Hector Lombard signed with the UFC in April of 2012, making him one of the newest high-profile fighters to enter the company. Lombard made his debut in July of last year, losing to Tim Boetsch in a split decision. Dropping two of his first three fights in the UFC, there has been much speculation about his future with the organization. However, Lombard recently saw a victory against Nate Marquardt in UFC 166 in October of this year. He and Anderson Silva are tied with equal earnings of $600,000 despite very different fight results.
9. Anderson “The Spider” Silva (Tied) – $600,000 in 2013
Anderson Silva joined the UFC in April 2006, and the company almost immediately started thrusting him into the spotlight. His first fight in June of that year resulted in a victory against Chris Lebon. Even though Silva lost to Chris Weidman this year at UFC 162 in Las Vegas, he still earned much more than his opponent in that fight. According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Silva picked up a total of $600,000, one of the biggest paychecks issued to any fighter in the UFC. Most high-profile fights average $200,000-$400,000 per fighter.
8. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida – $650,000 in 2013
This Japanese-Brazilian fighter from Salvador made his debut in 2007 in UFC 67, and since then has been earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per fight. Lyoto Machida earned $200,000 against Dan Henderson in the light-heavyweight division at UFC 157 where he won by split decision. He also earned $200,000 in his fight against Phil Davis at UFC 163, as well as UFC Fight Night against Mark Munoz.
7. Michael “The Count” Bisping – $700,000 in 2013
British fighter, Michael Bisping hasn’t wasted any time making his presence known after being brought across the pond from Britain to the United States. The Ultimate Fighter Season Three reality series light-heavyweight winner has had a mixed season between his two fights in 2013. After the show, he dropped his weight class down to middleweight. His first fight in the UFC on FX against Vitor Belfort found him losing, but he still walked away with $275,000. However, Bisping turned it around in UFC 159 against Alan Belcher, earning himself $275,000 plus an additional $150,000 win bonus.
6. Dan “Hendo” Henderson – $750,000 in 2013
Dan Henderson is a longtime veteran of PRIDE and the UFC, as well as a former competitor in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. Unfortunately, he has had a rough year in 2013, but that hasn’t stopped his wallet from benefiting from the fights. So far, Henderson has not been victorious in the octagon this year. He has earned $250,000 for each of his three fights between UFC 157 against Lyoto Machida, UFC 161 against Rashad Evans, and UFC Fight Night against Vitor Belfort.
5. Cain Velasquez – $800,000 in 2013
Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has been victorious in 2013 in his fights against Antonio Silva in UFC 160 and Junior dos Santos in UFC 166, earning $400,000 per fight. Velasquez walked away with some of the biggest paychecks from both fights. However, a recent shoulder injury suffered against dos Santos may put Velasquez’s career temporarily on hold while he heals. The UFC has expressed interest in launching an event in Mexico, and they are willing to wait for Velasquez to recover from his injury, as they do not want to do the event without him. Undobtedly, Velasquez is one of the most valuable fighters in the UFC.
3. Jon “Bones” Jones (Tied) – $850,000 in 2013
Native New Yorker, Jon Jones is an American light-heavyweight competitor in the UFC who has seen a great year in 2013 and has been showing a lot of promise in his future with the organization. At UFC 159, he was victorious against Chael Sonnen while earning himself $400,000. Then, in UFC 165, he beat out Alexander Gustafsson, earning another $400,000 plus an additional $50,000 as a Fight of the Night bonus.
3. George “Rush” St-Pierre (Tied) – $850,000 in 2013
George St-Pierre kicked off 2013 in March with an 8th consecutive title defense against challenger Nick Diaz. The welterweight champion held onto his belt in a unanimous decision, earning $400,000 in the process. St-Pierre then squared off against powerhouse Johny Hendricks, retaining his title in a controversial split decision victory. St-Pierre doubled his winnings for the year, winning another $400,000 plus a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus. St-Pierre’s future in the UFC is unclear, as he said after the Hendricks fight that he needs to step away from fighting for a while due to personal issues.
2. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort – $975,000 in 2013
As one of the biggest stars of the early UFC days, Vitor Belfort and has continued to impress fans since his debut in 1996. The Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter has had a very successful year as he hasn’t lost a match yet in 2013. He earned $275,000 for each of his UFC showings on FX in January and May while earning an additional $50,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night. Then, in November, Belfort earned $325,000 for UFC Fight Night. All together this makes Belfort one of 2013’s highest paid UFC fighters with a purse that is envied by fighters and fans alike.
1. Rashad “Suga” Evans – $1,035,000 in 2013
Rashad Evans is the season two winner of The Ultimate Fighter. After winning, Evans dropped his weight class from heavyweight to light-heavyweight. Even though his first fight against Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 156 resulted in a loss, Evans still walked away with $300,000. But he would soon regain his victory against Dan Henderson in UFC 161, earning another $300,000 just for showing up, and then an additional $185,000 win bonus. Evans followed all this up in November with a TKO victory against Chael Sonnen at UFC 167, earning him an additional $250,000.