's 2009 Power Rankings

December 30, 2009

Welcome to’s 2009 Power Rankings!

This year’s edition features a slightly new format that considers the gross pay-per-view and gate revenue generated by each fighter in both main and co-main events. The revenue generated by an event will be split 70-30 between the main and co-main events for any given show. The switch was made to include co-main events because the appeal of many PPV shows is no longer singularly driven by the main event; fights like UFC 97, UFC 100, UFC 101, UFC 107, etc. all featured strong co-main events.

Fighter PPV* Gate Total Events
BJ Penn $73,080,000 $6,538,000 $79,618,000 3
Frank Mir $58,770,000 $4,039,943 $62,809,943 2
Brock Lesnar $50,400,000 $3,589,943 $53,989,943 1
Georges St-Pierre $46,800,000 $4,541,547 $51,341,547 2
Lyoto Machida $35,752,500 $3,619,310 $39,371,810 2
Rich Franklin $34,335,000 $3,500,000 $37,835,000 3
Anderson Silva $32,625,000 $4,495,000 $37,120,000 2
Kenny Florian $28,350,000 $2,485,000 $30,835,000 1
Mauricio Shogun $24,525,000 $2,809,165 $27,334,165 2
Forrest Griffin $23,962,500 $3,167,275 $27,129,775 2
Rashad Evans $20,002,500 $2,280,145 $22,282,645 1


*Note that the rankings consider gross revenue – the UFC receives about half of the actual PPV revenue generated by any given event.

Observe the change in position of MMA of the UFC’s fighters from the 2008 rankings:

Fighter PPV* Gate Total Events
Brock Lesnar $55,687,500 $5,753,096 $61,440,596 3
Forrest Griffin $50,085,000 $4,773,419 $54,858,419 2
Rashad Evans $48,195,000 $4,247,908 $52,442,908 2
Georges St-Pierre $36,382,500 $5,146,400 $41,528,900 2
Frank Mir $33,075,000 $2,747,055 $35,822,055 2
BJ Penn $22,050,000 $3,487,400 $25,537,400 2
Antonio Nogueira $22,275,000 $1,771,899 $24,046,899 2
Anderson Silva $19,687,500 $3,535,000 $23,222,500 2
Joe Stevenson $19,237,500 $2,319,703 $21,557,203 2
Patrick Cote $16,740,000 $3,000,219 $19,740,219 2
Rich Franklin $13,635,000 $2,310,000 $15,945,000 2


The results are obviously influenced by the host of factors that impede a fighter from entering the cage regularly, but in combining the results over the last two years we get to see which fighters are consistently involved in the highest grossing events. (Note: fighters that had less than 3 headlining fights were omitted for obvious reasons.)

  2008 – 2009  
Fighter Total Events
Brock Lesnar $112,782,143 4
BJ Penn $105,155,400 5
Frank Mir $98,631,998 4
Georges St-Pierre $92,870,447 4
Forrest Griffin $81,988,194 4
Rashad Evans $74,725,553 3
Anderson Silva $60,342,500 4
Rich Franklin $53,780,000 5


 Predicting 2010

St-Pierre and Mir will likely become the early favorites to lead 2010 in generated gross revenue, but BJ Penn and Lyoto Machida may not be far behind with big fights rumored for each of them in April and May, respectively.

Anderson Silva’s talent should ensure that he continues to develop as a credible draw. Although it’s too bad he was unable to jump back into the cage soon after his destruction of Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 – that momentum and another stellar performance would have put him over the top.

The wild cards here are Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Rich Franklin. Griffin lost a lot more than the fight when he was crumpled by Anderson Silva – his drawing ability saw a dramatic decrease at UFC 106. Evans simply hasn’t competed a great deal, but he could revive much of his drawing ability should he defeat Thiago Silva at UFC 108 and set up the long awaited match between he and Rampage Jackson sometime in May or June. Franklin, isn’t a contender at either the 185 or 205 weight classes, but still retains the name value from his reign as middleweight champion to be an effective secondary draw on occasion.

Possible New Entrants?

Shane Carwin – The heavyweight could easily make next year’s rankings if he is able to defeat Frank Mir in their rumored interim heavyweight title bout this Spring. It would assure him another headlining date – possibly against Brock Lesnar.

Jon Jones – The talented newcomer is set to headline his first show – albeit a cable show on Versus – in March, but could easily land in a main or co-main event role by Summer 2010.  He’s too dynamic not to feature, and the UFC has big plans for this kid.

Kenny Florian – Likely the second best lightweight in the UFC, he’s a virtual guarantee – barring injuries – to be a main or co-main on the UFC PPV in Boston next August. Expect him to fight three times in 2010, and perhaps even challenge for the title once more.

Honorable mentions: Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira, Cain Velasquez, Rampage Jackson, Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt, and Dan Hardy.

15 Responses to “'s 2009 Power Rankings”

  1. VEe! on December 30th, 2009 10:37 AM

    Good post, hopefully Zuffa has some one like you on staff tracking this information.

    Hmmm . . . if Anderson Silva lost an all-out war against Vitor Belfort, do you think he’ll be able to increase that total amount in the end of 2010. Silva hurt his earnings with Cote and Leites.

    Rich Franklin is a solid company man.

    Wow, basically BJ Penn is the best UFC champion. Durable, available and generates interest without years of WWE promotions on his resume.

    Now only if Kimbo was younger and talented. Who knows how many dollars he would generate.

    Note: TUF only produce 2 Ultimate Fighters that can generate dollars after 10 seasons. Too bad Bisping ran into Henderson’s big right hand.

  2. guest on December 30th, 2009 12:38 PM

    Mir is nowhere near as much of a draw as you imply. You need to correct for the fact that two of his four fights were with Lesnar, who was the real draw. If you take out the $50 million for his second fight with Lesnar, he drops off the list. That doesn’t indicate good things for his ability to draw on his own.

    It would be good to see an “average” draw per fighter, which would mix things up, too. Rough calculations in my head would say average draw per fight (numbers are in millions of dollars) rankings would be:

    Lesnar – $28
    Evans – $25
    St Pierre – $23
    Mir – $24.5 (keep in mind, half these fights were main events with Lesnar… though the first was really a co-main event since Nog-Sylvia was the main event)
    Penn – $21
    Griffen – $20
    Silva – $15
    Franklin – 11

    I’m also not accounting of the main/co-main division you used in your calculations.

  3. UFC’s Top Draws From 2008-2009 on December 30th, 2009 2:09 PM

    […] For the most part, we all have a pretty good idea about who the UFC’s top draws are. But it’s also nice to see the data which is exactly what the fine folks at MMA Payout compiled. […]

  4. Kelsey Philpott on December 30th, 2009 2:14 PM

    It would be a mistake to ignore the drawing contributions that Mir made in both his fights against Lesnar. In the first fight, Lesnar was facing Mir, the former champion; and, in the second, Lesnar was facing the foe that had previously felled him in an actual match.

    Lesnar would not draw as well against Carwin as he would Mir.

    Mir plays his part well; using all available media to effectively drive up the interest for any bout he participates in. We saw this not only against Lesnar, but on TUF against Nogueira and in this latest match against Kongo. Mir was very much a part of the UFC 107 draw.

  5. Penn UFC's biggest draw in 09 - Page 2 - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on December 30th, 2009 5:35 PM

    […] […]

  6. Jeremy on December 31st, 2009 7:45 AM

    I get the 70/30 split, but it is very misleading. 101 sold as much on Silva/Forrest as it did on Penn/Florian.

    I would also say that GSP deserves a little more credit for UFC 100.

  7. Kelsey Philpott on December 31st, 2009 8:04 AM

    Yes, there are instances where the co-main is perhaps stronger than 30%. By the same token, does anyone believe that UFC 94 wasn’t almost purely St-Pierre vs. Penn?

    I think when you you look at the big picture, 70-30 is probably the closest approximation to the drawing split.

    It’s not a perfect system, but it’s consistent and gives us an idea of who’s doing what. That was always the main idea.


  8. Brock Lesnar sigue siendo el peleador más redituable de la actualidad « on December 31st, 2009 10:54 AM

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  9. Brock Lesnar sigue siendo el peleador más rentable en la actualidad « on December 31st, 2009 3:09 PM

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  10. Bubba on January 1st, 2010 11:03 AM

    Anything that gives PATRICK Cote any credit for crowd interest is obviously flawed and has no business being used. Ever. The guy has NO drawing power and is a spare part. If Edwin Dewees got a shot at getting his head kicked in (again) by a headliner, he would be on that list. So, for the love of pete, get a grip.

  11. jack on January 1st, 2010 2:51 PM

    would love to see a chart of fighter earnings (base plus bonuses) for 2009 and see what these guys earn relative to what they bring in for dana and his crew

  12. Al on January 3rd, 2010 10:35 AM

    Bubba has a VERY valid point well made

    Cote on that list makes it a ja-hoke

  13. Dana White’s "No Comment" on Brock Lesnar Is an Ominous Sign on January 7th, 2010 6:20 PM

    […] the reality of the situation. The UFC has hitched its wagon to Lesnar. He was the dominant PPV attraction for the UFC in 2008 when he fought on three cards. In 2009 when he only fought once he was still […]

  14. Me on January 8th, 2010 4:39 PM

    Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe! I’ll go and read some more! What do you see the future of this being?

  15. Kyle on January 20th, 2010 1:17 PM

    I’m wondering if this is accurate. To me GSP would have to be seen as the highest in earnings. Especially when you consider Brock Lesnar has never headlined a card that GSP wasn’t also headlining. So is it really safe/fair to say brock is ahead of gsp?

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