August 12, 2015
Forbes.com ranked the world’s highest-paid female athletes in 2015. According to total earnings for the year, Ronda Rousey ranks 8th on the list with a reported $6.5 million in earnings from sponsorship and purses.
The earnings were measured from June 1, 2014 to June 1, 2015. Rousey fought twice during this time span. Against Alexis Davis at UFC 175 and against Cat Zingano at UFC 184. She reportedly made $150,000 (including $50K bonus) at UFC 175 and $180,000 (including $50K bonus) at UFC 184. However, it was reported that Rousey made at least $1 million at UFC 184.
Seven of the top 10 females on the list were tennis players with Maria Sharapova ($29.7 million), Serena Williams ($24.6) and Caroline Wozniacki in the top 3 with race car driver Danica Patrick coming in fourth.
Forbes indicates that Rousey has earned $3 million in salary/winnings and another $3.5 million in endorsements. Per Forbes.com, her “endorsement portfolio” includes Reebok, Metro PCS, Monster headphones, Buffalo David Bitton (jeans) and Carl’s Jr.
Rousey wore a Monster Energy patch on her Reebok kit at UFC 190 so maybe she is sponsored by both Monster Energy and Headphones. Regardless, the earnings reflect that Rousey is a vital part of the UFC. Only a couple years ago women were not allowed to fight in the UFC and now it’s clear that she is one of the highest-paid fighters in the organization. With her book selling well and her movie projects out one would think that Rousey may move up this list next year.
August 3, 2015
MMA Payout has received the payout information from the World Series of Fighting event held this past Saturday at Planet Hollywood. Marlon Moraes led the roster making $70,000 to show and $70,000 for his win against Sheymon Moraes.
The information was emailed to us from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Rousimar Palhares: $80,000 (includes $40,000 win bonus)
Jake Shields: $35,000
Marlon Moraes: $140,000 (includes $70,000 win bonus)
Sheymon Moraes: $10,000
Clifford Starks: $20,000 (no win bonus)
Mike Kyle: $10,000
Islam Mamedov: $8,000 (includes $4,000 win bonus)
Jimmy Spicuzza: $3,000
Abubakar Nurmagomedov: $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
Jorge Moreno: $1,000
Jake Heun: $6,000 (includes $3,000 win bonus)
Davin Clark: $3,000
Donovan Frelow: $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
Carlos Garcia: $1,000
Marco Simmons: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)
Jimmy Jones: $1,000
Cory Hendricks: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)
Julio Hinojosa: $1,000
Gil Guardado: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)
Pete Martin: $1,000
The provided payout sheet includes deductions for licenses, taxes and namely drug test withholdings. Only 4 fighters were charged with “drug test” withholdings.
The most notable salary here is that of Marlon Moraes who just re-signed with WSOF. His $70K/$70K pay scale is likely one of the highest in the WSOF. Palhares was one of those that had his purse withheld for drug testing although it does not appear the commission held any money due to his antics during the Shields fight. Shields $35,000 is a stark drop from his earnings in the UFC when he started at $75K/$75K.
July 21, 2015
MMA Junkie reports the disclosed salaries from Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 71. Frank Mir headed the list of fighters making $200,000.
Mir defeated Todd Duffee in the first round. Mir did not receive a win bonus. Duffee made $20,000 for his part in the main event.
Via MMA Junkie:
Frank Mir: $200,000 (no win bonus) 886,000
def. Todd Duffee: $12,000
Tony Ferguson: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Thomson: $85,000
Holly Holm: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Marion Reneau: $12,000
Manny Gamburyan: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Scott Jorgensen: $33,000
Kevin Lee: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. James Moontasri: $10,000
Alan Jouban: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Matt Dwyer: $10,000
Sam Sicilia: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Yaotzin Meza: $16,000
Jessica Andrade: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Sarah Moras: $10,000
Rani Yahya: $54,000 (includes $27,000 win bonus)
def. Masanori Kanehara: $14,000
Sean Strickland: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Igor Araujo: $15,000
Kevin Casey: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Ildemar Alcantara: $20,000
Lyman Good: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Andrew Craig: $17,000
Mir’s $200K flat appears to be his standard pay at this point. Thomson’s $85K was second on the pay roster for last week. Notably, Holly Holm’s first UFC fight at UFC 184 was at $25K/$25K. She made the same on Wednesday.
July 16, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take you to UFC 189 which was the biggest event in years for the company taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
McGregor wins interim Featherweight title
The gamble for the UFC paid off. Conor McGregor stopped Chad Mendes with just seconds remaining in the second round to win the interim Featherweight title. McGregor was in trouble early as he could not stop takedowns and was being held down by Mendes. But, McGregor was able to escape a guillotine attempt and used his power to KO Mendes.
McGregor actually has a coaching spot on TUF this fall and then it’s likely Jose Aldo. Mendes showed well for himself considering he did not have a full camp. He is still at the top of the list of challengers for the Featherweight title.
Lawler outlasts MacDonald in bloody war
It was the best fight in some time and likely a prime example of why this sport can never gain mainstream acceptance. Robbie Lawler’s lip and Rory MacDonald’s nose exemplified the dedication, discipline, heart and fearlessness it takes to make it to the top of this sport. Although MacDonald was ahead on the judge’s cards, he succumbed to the pain and crumpled to the mat in the fifth round after another shot from Lawler.
For Lawler, Johny Hendricks seems like the next opponent for Lawler. Many have said that this fight may have changed the trajectory of MacDonald’s career forever. We shall see.
Attendance and gate
It was the biggest attendance and gate for a UFC event ever since UFC 129 in Toronto. Attendance stood at 16,019 for a gate of $7.2 million. Dana White stated that ticket sales actually surged after Jose Aldo pulled out of the fight getting the gate over $7 million.
On the secondary market the “get in” price at the start of the Fight Pass Prelims was $665. According to Darren Rovell, the median price paid on Stubhub was $500 which was the highest since Silva-Sonnen II ($450).
Conor McGregor, Thomas Almeida, Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler earned the $50,000 bonuses.
McGregor and Mendes topped the salaries making $500,000 each. The full list is here.
Promotion of the Fight
The promotion of the fight started with the expensive and well-chronicled world tour with Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. The Embedded episodes were entertaining as those occurred this past spring. Most of us were hoping that July would come soon. Of course, the fight did not happen and we were given Chad Mendes. More Embedded episodes occurred to promote the fight and even some controversy as it appeared that an episode featuring Conor training in wrestling was edited out. The theory was that it would give Mendes some advantage.
Dana White appeared on ESPN, the Jim Rome and other outlets. Notably, he stated in a radio interview that Aldo would have made $4 million at UFC 189. He also stated on Jim Rome that McGregor wanted to bet him $3 million that he would knock out Mendes. Apparently, he knew what he was talking about.
This was the first event where Reebok uniforms were exclusively used. Overall, it was not as bad as I had thought although I am sure there are some fight fans that will miss the aesthetic of different sponsors on the shorts as well as fight banners.
The official UFC sponsors were in the Octagon including the movie “SouthPaw,” Draft Kings, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Fram,Bud Light, Corn Nuts, Metro PCS, Musclepharm and Monster Energy Drink had the center.
Reebok presented the Embedded episodes featuring McGregor and Mendes.
In addition to announcing an individual deal with Reebok, Rory MacDonald had a Monster logo on its shorts. Same for Conor McGregor. McGregor also starred in a commercial for Game of War.
Toyo Tires also sponsored Chad Mendes and sent out an eblast about the challenger.
Although it was announced in early June, the UFC announced a partnership with Las Vegas Monorail making it the “Official Las Vegas Transportation of the UFC.” While this seems silly, the fact that so many people from out of town (especially Irish McGregor supporters) likely took it as a method of transportation probably made the sponsorship worth its while.
Odds and ends
The changes in production were subtle but great. While there might be a lot of criticism about spending 6 months and who knows how much money to change the “C” in the UFC, the presentation at the weigh-ins and the actual show were top-notch.
The live singing entrances for the main events were an interesting touch.
It was interesting that this fight was not offered in movie theatres like other events before it.
One critique about new UFC production, rounds now noted by filled in marks like balls/strikes in baseball. I like numbers to tell me rounds.
The uplighting and other stage enhancements for the weigh-ins were great. It gave UFC 189 that big fight feel. Of course, the atmosphere with so many Irish there made it feel that much more electric on television.
This was the first event with the USADA drug testing protocol.
It appears that cutmen have lost their sponsor deals when Reebok took over this month but are not a part of the Reebok deal. We will see where this goes.
Mendes has been stopped in two championship fights with seconds left in a round.
I already booked my hotel for UFC 200 which will be in the new MGM-AEG Arena July 2, 2016
1M Google searches for Conor McGregor and UFC 189 related searches. Another 100k for Robbie Lawler.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) July 13, 2015
Much has been scrutinized about what the PPV buy rate will be for UFC 189. Despite Aldo pulling out late, it appears that it did not hurt PPV sales. The pre-buys for the event appear to be strong which is based on the number of people that purchase the PPV prior to the day of the PPV. The google searches appear strong but the Prelim rating was under 1 million viewers. So, we shall see. My gut reaction is that the PPV did between 550K and 600K buys which solidifies McGregor as a legitimate PPV star.
July 13, 2015
The payouts were disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Invicta FC 13 payouts:
Champ Cristiane Justino: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Faith Van Duin: $6,000
Tonya Evinger: $11,000 (includes $5,500 win bonus)
def. Irene Aldana: $5,000
Champ Ayaka Hamasaki: $10,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus)
def. Herica Tiburcio: $5,500
Pannie Kianzad: $6,000 (includes $3,000 win bonus)
def. Jessica-Rose Clark: $2,000
Amber Brown: $4,000 (includes $2,000 win bonus)
def. Catherine Costigan: $2,000
Jamie Moyle: $4,000 (includes $2,000 win bonus)
def. Amy Montenegro: $2,000
Amber Leibrock: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)
def. Marina Shafir: $2,500
TUF 21 Finale payouts:
Stephen Thompson: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. Jake Ellenberger: $73,000
Kamaru Usman: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Hayder Hassan: $10,000
Michael Graves: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Vicente Luque: $10,000
Jorge Masvidal: $102,000 (includes $51,000 win bonus)
def. Cezar Ferreira: $20,000
Michelle Waterson: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Angela Magana: $10,000
Maximo Blanco: $41,400 (includes $23,000 win bonus)*
def. Mike De La Torre: $17,600*
Josh Samman: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Caio Magalhaes: $20,000
Jerrod Sanders: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Russell Doane: $11,000
Trevor Smith: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Dan Miller: $25,000
George Sullivan: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Dominic Waters: $10,000
Willie Gates: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Darrell Montague: $ 10,000
According to MMA Junkie, Maximo Blanco was fined 20 percent of his purse for missing weight and the fine went to Mike De La Torre. Perhaps fitting considering it appeared that the fight ended too early due to ref stoppage.
There does not appear to be anything too out of the ordinary from the payouts. Certainly, Cyborg is getting paid much more than the rest of the Invicta FC roster since she is being prepped for a UFC run. She is making $50K/$50K when the next highest paid fighter is making just $6,000. Ellenberger at $73,000 should be highlighted as he might be close to being either let go or asked to renegotiate contract.
July 13, 2015
MMA Fighting reports the salaries from Saturday night’s UFC 189. Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes made $500,000 each for their main event fight.
Notably, McGregor did not have a win bonus although it’s being reported that he is receiving a part of the PPV sales. Thus, the speculation is that he’ll clear $3-$4 million after all is said and done. Mendes may receive a part of the PPV cut as well. Mendes signed a new 8-fight deal with the UFC in May.
The salaries were disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The reported salaries do not include bonuses, Reebok sponsorship money or any other discretionary bonuses. Notably, Jeremy Stephens forfeited 20% of his purse due to not making weight.
The total reported salaries for UFC 189 was $1,952,000.
Via MMA Fighting:
Conor McGregor ($500,000) def. Chad Mendes ($500,000)
Robbie Lawler ($150,000 + $150,000 = $300,000) def. Rory MacDonald ($59,000)
Jeremy Stephens ($32,000 + $40,000 = $72,000) def. Dennis Bermudez ($34,000)
Gunnar Nelson ($29,000 + $29,000 = $58,000) def. Brandon Thatch ($22,000)
Thomas Almeida ($12,000 + $12,000 = $24,000) def. Brad Pickett ($30,000)
Matt Brown ($46,000 + $46,000 = $92,000) def. Tim Means ($23,000)
Alex Garcia ($15,000 + $15,000 = $30,000) def. Mike Swick ($48,000)
John Howard ($21,000 + $21,000 = $42,000) def. Cathal Pendred ($10,000)
Cody Garbrandt ($10,000 + $10,000 = $20,000) def. Henry Briones ($10,000)
Louis Smolka ($15,000 + $15,000 = $30,000) def. Neil Seery ($15,000)
Cody Pfister ($10,000 + $10,000 = $20,000) def. Yosdenis Cedeno ($13,000)
Interesting that Robbie Lawler at $300K and Rory MacDonald at $59K plus his $50 Fight of the Night bonus were the only other fighters to reach 6 figures. The average fighter payout was $88,000 although much of that was the $1 million combined from McGregor-Mendes. In fact, if you take out the payouts from the top two fights, the average salary drops to $33,000.
June 29, 2015
MMA Junkie reports the disclosed salaries from Saturday night UFC Fight Night 70. Lyoto Machida earned 1/3 of the total reported payouts drawing $200,000 in his loss to Yoel Romero.
Via MMA Junkie:
Yoel Romero: $66,000 (includes $33,000 win bonus)
def. Lyoto Machida: $200,000
Lorenz Larkin: $66,000 (includes $33,000 win bonus)
def. Santiago Ponzinibbio: $10,000
Antonio Carlos Junior: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Gordon: $15,000
Thiago “Marreta” Santos: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Steve Bosse: $10,000
Hacran Dias: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)
def. Levan Makashvili: $12,000
Alex Oliveira: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Joe Merritt: $10,000
Leandro Silva: $28,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)*
def. Lewis Gonzalez: $8,000
Tony Sims: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Steve Montgomery: $10,000
Sirwan Kakai: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Danny Martinez : $10,000
The total disclosed payroll was $601,000
Gonzalez was docked 20% of his fight purse for not making weight. Machida’s payout is on par what he has been receiving although the 37-year old may be heading toward the downside of his career (and his pay). Romero and Larkin were the next two highest paid on Saturday earning $33K and $33K.
June 11, 2015
Forbes announced its annual list of highest paid athletes. As expected, boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. topped the list earning $300 million including endorsement deals. His opponent, May 2nd, Manny Pacquiao landed second on the list.
Mayweather tallied $285 million in pay from June 2014 to June 2015. He earned $100 million on fight night against Pacquiao but the revenue does not include PPV (which were an astronomical 4.4 million buys), gate ($73 million) and fight sponsorships ($13 million). According to Forbes, the fight is expected to gross $600 million once the dust settles. For his May fight, he also earned another $15 million in sponsorship money from Hublot, FanDuel and Burger King. Mayweather’s earnings also include his September 2014 fight with Marcus Maidana.
Pacquiao landed second on the list earning $160 million. The earnings include his November 2014 fight in Macau against Chris Algieri. Pacquiao earned $125 million in pay from the Mayweather fight and $23 million from his Algieri fight. He drew $148 in pay and drew $12 million in endorsements from a variety of sponsors including Nike, Foot Locker, Wonderful Pistachios, Nestle’s Butterfinger and a variety of Filipino sponsors. Prior to the event, it was reported that Pacquiao would garner $2.25 million from sponsors on his trunks alone.
It’s the third time Mayweather has topped the list and his earnings set the record for athlete earnings in a year. Tiger Woods earned $115 million in 2008 which was the previous record.
Wladimir Klitschko made the Forbes Top 100 paid athletes at #63 making $22.5 million. There were no MMA fighters on the list.
The list reflects the fact that boxing’s top stars command the most money. Overall, the sport of boxing may not pay all of its fighters well, but the earning power of Mayweather and Pacquiao show that the sport is still a draw when there are big fights. The money made by Mayweather this year is based on the split in revenue from the Pacquiao fight in which he controlled a dominant share of the money drawn from the event. It’s unlikely we’ll see another athlete earn this much money in a 12 month span for a long time.
May 26, 2015
The Nevada State Athletic Commission released the salaries from Saturday’s UFC 187. Notably, Chris Weidman and Anthony Johnson received $500,000 each for their respective fights.
Via MMA Junkie:
Daniel Cormier: $180,000 (includes $90,000 win bonus)
def. Anthony Johnson: $500,000
Chris Weidman: $500,000 (includes $250,000 win bonus)
def. Vitor Belfort: $300,000
Donald Cerrone: $152,000 (includes $76,000 win bonus)
def. John Makdessi: $30,000
Andrei Arlovski: $84,000 (includes $42,000 win bonus)
def. Travis Browne: $60,000
Joseph Benavidez: $106,000 (includes $53,000 win bonus)
def. John Moraga: $28,000
John Dodson: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Zach Makovsky: $19,000
Dong Hyun Kim: $116,000 (includes $58,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Burkman: $45,000
Rafael Natal: $70,000 (includes $35,000 win bonus)
def. Uriah Hall: $14,000
Colby Covington: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Pyle: $51,000
Islam Makhachev: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Leo Kuntz: $10,000
Justin Scoggins: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Sampo: $13,000
According to MMA Junkie, Rose Namajunas received her show and win pay despite her fight with Nina Ansaroff being cancelled. Namajunas received $50,000 plus $2,000 from Ansaroff’s purse due to her missing weight. Not only was Ansaroff sick, but she missed weight and was fined her show money of $8,000. Thus, she received $6,000.
It’s unbelievable to see Johnson receive $500,000 for his fight against Cormier. This makes him the highest paid fighter of the night if you consider Weidman is making $250K/$250K. Johnson just signed a new contract and he steps up big-time in pay. His last contract had him at $53k/$53K. Not clear if this new deal is a flat fee (i.e., no win bonus) but it is sure to make other fighters up for a new contract take notice. Aside from Johnson and Weidman, Vitor Belfort, Daniel Cormier, Donald Cerrone, Joseph Benavidez and Dong Hyun Kim earned six figures on Saturday.
April 20, 2015
Sports Business Journal reports (subscription recommended) that the UFC is making a change to the way it will compensate its fighters through the Reebok deal. Instead of paying fighters based on media rankings, it will pay fighters based on a “tiered system” based on tenure or number of UFC bouts fought.
There will be 5 tiers based on the number of fights an individual has had with the UFC. The article indicates that the UFC will count fights with the WEC and Strikeforce into the number of fights an individual has fought with the organization. There will be tiers of 1-5 fights, 6-10 fights, 11-15 fights, 16-20 fights and more than 21 fights according to the article.
Title fights will be an exception to this rule as the fighters will receive greater compensation. The UFC declined comment on sharing the amount of money each tier would receive.
The change is based on speaking with fighters and managers about the new Reebok deal according to UFC senior vice president of global consumer products, Tracey Bleczinksi.
The article includes quotes from Glenn Robinson of Authentic Sports Management and Ronda Rousey’s manager Brad Slater. Robinson indicated that the sponsorship money has dried up over the years and that the Reebok deal is “more sustainable.” Slater acknowledged that despite the number of sponsors a fighter may have, the total money earned was not “a really significant number.”
The new “tiered” system appears to be a much more fair system than the media rankings which were widely criticized. The system which rewards a fighter based on time served in the UFC (or WEC or Strikeforce) is a much more stable way of determining how a fighter will be compensated through the Reebok deal. It also gives a fighter incentive to do their best to stay in the UFC. Still, the unknown is how much a fighter will be paid through the deal. The UFC does leave itself an out as the policy allows it to pay fighters more in championship bouts (e.g. McGregor at UFC 189).
The article points out that the change was based on discussions with fighters and their managers about the deal. It’s interesting that these discussions happened now and not during the time prior to the Reebok announcement. The new change should give a fighter more certainty as to what tier they are in and an expectancy as to how much they should receive from Reebok.