It isn’t rocket science that the UFC pays the best fighters, the one’s with most draws, the most money. The more eyes that watch them directly translates into more pay-pew-view buys and more money in Uncle Dana and Lorenzo Fertitta‘s pocket. But some of the UFC’s supposed biggest draws did not deliver this past year in terms of their performances. They may have generated a lot of viewership and money, but sadly their salary was based on their notoriety rather than their recent results. Lets have a look at 2013’s most overpaid fighters based on their recent fights.
5. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, 1-2, Earned: $645,000
The injury plagued Shogun Rua did not enjoy his most successful year in 2013. He certainly raked in a substantial amount of cash as he pulled in $645,000, but his salary is not indicative of his recent performances. He did win his last fight against James Tu Huna at UFC Fight Night 33, but Te Huna is far from a top contender that Shogun is used to locking horns with. An issue with “Shogun” is that there is dwindling fan interest towards his fights. He carries a high salary, which means the UFC wants him in the co-main event or main event slot, but at this point in his career nobody seems interested in watching him on pay-per-view (his last 3 fights were all on Fox).
The UFC sticks him on Fox because people are more inclined to watch him for free on network cable rather than fork over 60 bucks to order a pay-per-view or go to a bar and buy an 8 dollar beer. It will be interesting to see how long the UFC will be willing to keep the highly-paid Rua on the roster because Dana White has stated on numerous occasions that he has too many fighters under contract right now. Hopefully for “Shogun”, he can rebound with a solid performance in his upcoming fight, a rematch against Dan Henderson. It should be noted that their first fight was an absolute barn-burner, so there’s certainly hope.
4. Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem, 0-2, Earned: $571,428.58
Alistair Overeem presents such an interesting case because he started his career with Pride Fighting and was not exactly a world beater (his salary is also interesting, why did they feel the need to add the 58 cents, is that some type of deal-breaker?). There was a sequence in 2006-2007 where he lost 4 of 5 fights, including stoppage losses to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Sergei Kharitonov. Seemingly overnight, he packed on a ridiculous amount of muscle and completely altered his physique, to the point that he looked cartoonish (must have ate his spinach). Along with adding the muscle, he also went on an 11-fight win streak from 2008-2011. The success obviously attracted the UFC, and they secured him to a lucrative contract. He started off with a bang, stopping former champ Brock Lesnar in the first round, earning a title-shot against Junior dos Santos. This title shot never came to fruition as he received a 9-month suspension for using performance enhancing drugs (surprise!). Upon returning from his suspension in early 2013, Overeem looked considerably smaller and did not have the success he did prior to the suspension. His 11-fight win streak was snapped, getting knocked out cold by Antonio “Big Foot” Silva and then receiving another knockout in a loss to Travis Browne. His past success makes him one of the top-paid heavyweights in the UFC but he’s looked like a shell of his former self. Granted, he earned a decision victory against Frank Mir this past weekend (making it a 2014 fight), so there is a possibility that Overeem can look like the “Demotion Man” of old. It should also be noted that Frank Mir has looked horrendous as of late, which brings us to our next fighter!
3. Frank Mir, 0-2, Earned: $400,000
First of all, I am a huge Frank Mir fan. He is such an intelligent fighter, always offers insightful interviews and is going to make a heck of a commentator. However, until he makes the move to the commentator’s booth, he is still a fighter and I have to assess his performances, and rip him, accordingly. Mir gets paid $200 000 per fight, excluding win bonuses. Unfortunately for Mir, he came nowhere even remotely close to a win in 2013. His first fight was at UFC on Fox 7 against Daniel Cormier, which was a very lackluster fight for both of them. He then went on to scrap with fellow veteran, Josh Barnett, in the co-main event at UFC 164. Barnett simply overpowered him, mauling Mir until he finally ended the fight with a knee to the stomach. One might think that Mir is not overpaid as $400,000 may not be all that steep, which is a fair point. However, dating back from 2012 to this current moment, Mir is riding a 4 fight losing streak and has been “rag-dolled” in each effort. Dana White admitted this past weekend that he, along with Lorenzo Fertitta, will have to sit-down and discuss whether they are going to keep Mir around, or give him the pink-slip. Another issue is, that taking a pay-cut isn’t really an option. They either keep Mir around as an overpaid heavyweight, or send him packing.
2. Dan “Hendo” Henderson, 0-3, Earned: $750,000
Dan Henderson is currently on a 3-fight losing streak, with all 3 losses coming in 2013. Unlike Mir, 2 of Hendo’s 3 losses were split-decisions and could have gone either way. His most recent loss came at the hands of Vitor Belfort, as he landed a massive head-kick early in the fight which led to a ref stoppagw. $750,000 is a hefty sum of money considering that it was all “show” money, with Dan obviously receiving no win bonuses. The argument can be made that Henderson did not underperform in 2013 because 2 of the 3 fights were very close and that he can come back strong from them. The problem with that thinking is that Henderson is 43 years old; how much more does he have left to offer? I’d be hard-pressed to think of an athlete who’s performance actually improved (other than Bernard Hopkins, who is a freak of nature) upon turning 44. Fights fans have the utmost respect for Dan Henderson, as he has put on such tremendous fights over the years. He has defied the odds and turned back the clock many times in his career, but I believe based on the combination of 2013’s performances and his age, that it will probably only go downhill from here.
1. Anderson “The Spider” Silva 0-2, Earned: $1,200,000
I already have visions of people reaching for the baseball bats and rioting upon seeing Anderson Silva on this list, but hear me out. This article isn’t meant to analyze Silva’s career performances and earnings as a whole, as it’s totally based on his 2013, which saw him lose his belt in the first fight, and almost his left leg in the second fight. Silva fans argue that he took Chris Weidman too lightly in the first bout and that breaking his leg was a mere coincidence in the rematch. Sadly this is not the case. In the first fight, Silva came in with the perfect game plan, which was to infuriate Weidman enough that he would abandon his wrestling game plan and stand there and trade blows. Silva was successful in this tactic, as the fight took place on their feet. That was his best chance at winning, and he still lost.
In the second fight, Silva through a wild leg-kick and the fight ultimately ended in a gruesome fashion. To me, it wasn’t a coincidence because “checking” leg kicks was something that Weidman had worked on diligently in training camp with his trainers, Ray Longo and Matt Serra, as it is one of Silva’s best weapons. It should also be noted, that Weidman had won every round between them before the 2 finishes. At 38 years old, after such a traumatic injury, major surgery and a year layoff; how much will Silva have left to give? An even bigger question is; will he have a mental block in regards to throwing another leg-kick? Regardless of Silva’s 2 losses, 0 win bonuses, he was still the top earning fighter of 2013. He may go down as the greatest of all-time, but his money earned wasn’t indicative of his performances this year.
The Final Tally:
Cumulative Performance: 1 win, 11 losses
Cumulative Money Earned: $3 566 428.58
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