Boxing vs UFC Earnings: Who Gets Paid More?

Last Updated on January 13, 2024 by Emily Foster

As a professional copywriting journalist, I am often asked to investigate the financial rewards of different sports, including the ongoing debate surrounding boxing vs UFC earnings. While both sports offer the potential for lucrative careers, there is much discussion about which sport pays its top athletes more.

Boxing and UFC are two different combat sports with unique compensation structures. Professional boxers typically earn their income through prize money, sponsorships, pay-per-view revenue, and endorsement deals. On the other hand, UFC fighters receive their compensation through contract agreements, base pay, fight bonuses, and pay-per-view shares. In this article, we will compare the earnings of boxers and UFC fighters and discuss the factors that impact their income.

Key Takeaways

  • Boxing and UFC are two different sports with distinct compensation structures.
  • The income of professional boxers comes from prize money, sponsorships, pay-per-view revenue, and endorsement deals.
  • UFC fighters receive their compensation through contract agreements, base pay, fight bonuses, and pay-per-view shares.
  • The earnings of boxers and UFC fighters depend on factors such as popularity, weight class, championships, and marketability.
  • There are controversies in both boxing and UFC surrounding fighter pay disparities and promotional control.

Understanding Boxing Earnings

Professional boxers can earn significant incomes from various sources, including prize money, sponsorships, pay-per-view revenue, and endorsement deals.

The most prominent source of income for boxers is prize money, which can range from thousands to millions of dollars per fight, depending on the fighter’s caliber and the importance of the match. For instance, heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua earned a reported $85 million for his 2019 rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr.

Notable Boxers and their Earnings Earnings
Floyd Mayweather Jr. $915 million
Manny Pacquiao $510 million
Canelo Alvarez $200 million

Sponsorships and endorsements from brands can also add to a boxer’s income, depending on their popularity and marketability. For example, Gennady Golovkin has endorsement deals with Jordan, Apple, and Chivas Regal, among others.

Pay-per-view revenue can also be a significant income source for boxers, especially for high-profile matches that attract a large audience. The pay-per-view model allows viewers to watch the match for a fee, and the revenue is divided among the fighters and promoters. For instance, the 2015 “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao generated over $400 million in pay-per-view revenue.

Endorsement deals with various brands can also bring boxers additional income. For example, Manny Pacquiao has endorsement deals with Nike, Nestle, and Hennessy, among others.

boxing earnings

In summary, professional boxers can earn substantial incomes from various sources, including prize money, sponsorships, pay-per-view revenue, and endorsement deals. The highest-paid boxers in history have earned hundreds of millions of dollars from their careers.

UFC Fighter Compensation Structure

One of the unique features of UFC fighter compensation is the way in which their contracts are structured. Unlike other professional sports, UFC fighters do not have guaranteed salaries. Instead, they receive a base pay for each fight and can earn additional money through bonuses and pay-per-view shares.

The base pay for UFC fighters varies depending on their experience and ranking within the organization. According to UFC President Dana White, first-time fighters in the UFC typically earn between $10,000 and $16,000 per fight, while more experienced fighters can earn upwards of $500,000.

In addition to base pay, UFC fighters can earn bonuses for their performance in the octagon. These bonuses are awarded for things like knockout of the night, submission of the night, and fight of the night. The amount of these bonuses varies, but they can range from $50,000 to $100,000 per fighter.

UFC fighters also have the opportunity to earn a share of the pay-per-view revenue for events in which they fight. While the exact percentage varies, top fighters can earn millions of dollars from pay-per-view shares alone.

To understand the complex nature of UFC fighter compensation further, refer to this table:

Item Details
Base Pay The minimum amount paid by the UFC to fighters per fight. This amount varies by experience and ranking.
Fight Bonuses Additional payments awarded for exceptional performance in the octagon. These bonuses are awarded for things like knockout of the night, submission of the night, and fight of the night. These bonuses can range from $50,000 to $100,000 per fighter.
Pay-Per-View Top fighters can earn a share of the pay-per-view revenue for events in which they fight. While the exact percentage varies, top fighters can earn millions of dollars from pay-per-view shares alone.

Overall, the UFC fighter compensation structure offers a unique opportunity for fighters to earn a substantial amount of money. However, it also requires fighters to perform well and remain relevant in order to receive these financial rewards.

UFC fighter compensation and contracts

Historical Boxing Payouts

Boxing has a long and storied history of iconic fights that have captured the public’s imagination and generated substantial payouts for the highest-profile boxers. Some of the highest-paid boxers of all time have earned tens of millions of dollars from a single bout, with certain legendary fights remaining etched in the memory of fight fans as having reached unprecedented payouts. While boxers’ earnings can vary widely depending on their championship status, weight class, and popularity, the sport’s highest earners have consistently made millions of dollars from some of the most monumental events in boxing history.

Here are some of the highest-paid boxers of all time, along with the payouts they received from some of their most famous fights:

Boxer Opponent Event Payout
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Manny Pacquiao May 2, 2015 $250 million
Manny Pacquiao Floyd Mayweather Jr. May 2, 2015 $150 million
Canelo Alvarez Floyd Mayweather Jr. September 14, 2013 $12 million
Mike Tyson Evander Holyfield June 28, 1997 $30 million

One of the biggest factors influencing payouts for boxing events is pay-per-view (PPV) buys, as this revenue stream can be highly lucrative for the highest-profile boxing events. For example, the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight in 2015 generated approximately $500 million in PPV revenue alone, demonstrating the enormous potential for earnings when two of boxing’s biggest stars face off in the ring.

In addition to PPV revenue, boxing payouts are influenced by gate revenue, which refers to the ticket sales for an event. The more popular the event and the boxers involved, the more lucrative the gate revenue will be. Boxers can also earn additional income from sponsorship deals, product endorsements, and other promotional opportunities.

historical boxing payouts

UFC Fighter Payouts

UFC fighters can earn substantial amounts of money through various sources of income, including fight purses, pay-per-view bonuses, and sponsorships. Some of the highest paid UFC fighters have earned tens of millions of dollars throughout their careers.

Highest Paid UFC Fighters

Conor McGregor is widely regarded as the highest paid UFC fighter, with estimated career earnings of over $150 million. Much of his earnings come from his pay-per-view revenue shares, as he is known for being one of the biggest draws in the sport.

Other top earners in the UFC include:

Fighter Total Career Earnings
Georges St-Pierre $50 million
Jon Jones $30 million
Amanda Nunes $15 million

These earnings have largely been accumulated through mega fights and marquee matchups, which draw in the biggest pay-per-view buys and gate revenue.

Sponsorship Deals

Aside from fight earnings, UFC fighters can also earn significant income through sponsorships. The UFC has an exclusive sponsorship deal with Reebok, which requires fighters to wear Reebok gear during fight week and in the Octagon. However, fighters can also secure individual sponsorship deals with other companies.

Individual fighter sponsorships can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the fighter’s popularity and marketability. For example, Ronda Rousey was once one of the most marketable fighters in the UFC, earning an estimated $10 million in sponsorships at her peak.

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Overall, the potential for high earnings in the UFC is significant for top fighters. However, as with boxing, there are ongoing debates and controversies surrounding fighter pay and the fair distribution of revenue.

UFC fighter payouts

Controversies in Boxing Payouts

One of the biggest issues in boxing is the significant pay disparities between fighters, which have been at the center of multiple controversies. Despite the massive amounts of revenue generated by some of the biggest fights in history, the compensation received by many fighters has been a point of contention, particularly for those competing on the undercard or in lower-profile events.

The root of the problem lies in the promotional control exerted by boxing organizations and management teams over fighter earnings. While top boxers can command hefty purses for their fights, those at the lower end of the spectrum often receive only a small fraction of the total revenue generated, leading to significant pay discrepancies.

“It’s really a matter of the power dynamic,” says boxing analyst John Smith. “Promoters and managers hold all the cards and can use their influence to negotiate deals that favor themselves and their fighters, leaving others out in the cold.”

Another factor contributing to pay disparities is the lack of a centralized governing body for boxing, which makes it more difficult for fighters to negotiate fair compensation. In addition, the influence of politics and personal relationships can also play a role in shaping fighter earnings, further exacerbating disparities.

Recent cases have highlighted the need for greater transparency and fairness in boxing payouts. In 2020, female boxer Claressa Shields made headlines when she voiced concerns over the pay gap between male and female fighters. Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has repeatedly called for better pay and opportunities for female boxers.

Overall, while there have been strides to address the issue of pay disparities in boxing, there is still much work to be done to ensure that fighters receive fair compensation for their talents and hard work.

Controversies in Boxing Payouts

Controversies in UFC Fighter Compensation

There have been several controversies surrounding UFC fighter compensation, which have sparked debates about fighter pay reform and the push for unionization. Many fighters and fans argue that fighters are not receiving a fair share of the UFC’s revenue, which has been estimated to be around $600 million per year.

One of the main issues is the UFC’s reliance on the pay-per-view model, which can lead to significant disparities in fighter earnings depending on the popularity of the card. Additionally, fighters are often paid a lower base salary than their counterparts in boxing, with much of their income coming from bonuses and sponsorships.

In 2015, the UFC signed an exclusive apparel deal with Reebok, which eliminated individual fighter sponsorships and caused a significant reduction in sponsor revenue for many fighters. While the deal did provide a certain level of financial stability for the UFC and its fighters, it has been a source of controversy due to the limited earning potential for individual fighters.

Recent Controversies Impact
The ongoing debate about fighter pay reform Increased pressure on the UFC to address fighter compensation issues
The push for unionization Potentially increased bargaining power for fighters in negotiations with the UFC

Many fighters have also expressed frustration with the UFC’s control over their careers, including limits on sponsorship opportunities and the ability to negotiate their contracts. Some have called for the formation of a fighters’ union to give them a collective voice in negotiations with the UFC.

Despite these controversies, the UFC has made some efforts to improve fighter compensation, including increasing the amount of bonuses and instituting a new pay structure for fighters on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show. However, the debate about fair fighter compensation in the UFC is likely to continue as the sport grows in popularity and revenue.

controversies in UFC fighter compensation

Factors Influencing Boxing Earnings

Boxing earnings can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors, including a boxer’s popularity and their weight class. Let’s take a closer look at these factors to better understand how they impact a boxer’s potential earnings.


A boxer’s popularity is a significant factor in determining their earnings. Boxers who have a large following and a strong fan base are more likely to attract lucrative sponsorship deals, as well as earn higher purses for fights.

Boxer Popularity Highest Earnings
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Extremely Popular $300 million (fight against Conor McGregor)
Canelo Alvarez Very Popular $35 million (fight against Gennady Golovkin)
Terence Crawford Popular $4 million (fight against Jeff Horn)

As demonstrated by the table, boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. is an excellent example of a boxer who has leveraged his popularity to earn huge sums of money. His fight against Conor McGregor in 2017 earned him a staggering $300 million.

Weight Class

Another significant factor in determining boxing earnings is a boxer’s weight class. Boxers in heavier weight classes typically have higher earning potential, as they are typically able to generate more interest and excitement from fans and media alike.

For example, heavyweight boxers such as Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have been able to earn large sums of money due to their status as world champions and their ability to draw in large crowds.

Factors Influencing Boxing Earnings

In conclusion, a boxer’s popularity and weight class are both significant factors that can influence their earnings in the sport of boxing. The more popular a boxer is, and the higher their weight class, the more likely they are to secure lucrative sponsorship deals and earn sizeable purses for fights.

Factors Influencing UFC Fighter Earnings

There are several key factors that can influence how much money a UFC fighter earns, including their title status, marketability, and overall success within the octagon.

One of the most significant factors in determining a UFC fighter’s earnings is their status as a titleholder. Currently, UFC champions receive a higher base pay than non-titleholders and are also eligible for additional performance bonuses. For example, former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor reportedly earned $3 million for his rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 202, compared to Diaz’s $2 million payout.

Marketability is another critical factor in determining UFC fighter earnings. Fighters who have a significant fan base and social media following may be more attractive to sponsors, resulting in more significant endorsement deals and advertising revenue. For instance, UFC star Ronda Rousey earned an estimated $10 million in sponsorship deals alone in 2015, thanks in large part to her enormous fan base and mainstream appeal.

Other factors that can impact UFC fighter earnings include their ability to generate pay-per-view buys for their fights, dominance within their division, and overall success in the octagon. Fighters who are consistently winning and putting on exciting fights are more likely to receive high-profile matchups and opportunities to earn significant payouts.

Top Earning UFC Fighters

Fighter Earnings (2019) Notable Wins
Conor McGregor $47 million Eddie Alvarez, Nate Diaz
Jon Jones $6 million Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson
Israel Adesanya $3 million Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker

Some of the highest-paid UFC fighters in recent years include Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, and Israel Adesanya. McGregor, who is known for his brash personality and ability to generate massive pay-per-view buys, earned an estimated $47 million in 2019, making him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Jones, who has been one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history, earned $6 million in the same year, thanks in large part to his high-profile matchups and championship status.

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Overall, the financial rewards for UFC fighters can be significant, particularly for those who are able to establish themselves as titleholders and fan favorites. By understanding the factors that can influence fighter earnings, both UFC athletes and fans can gain a better appreciation for the business side of the sport.

Sponsorship Opportunities in Boxing

Boxers have a variety of sponsorship opportunities available to them, offering a chance to earn additional income beyond their in-ring earnings. Brand endorsements are one way that boxers can secure sponsorships, partnering with companies to promote their products and services. Advertising revenue is another potential source of income, with boxers appearing in commercials or other marketing campaigns.

Product placements can also provide sponsorship opportunities for boxers, with their image or name appearing on products ranging from clothing lines to video games. The potential for product endorsements is expanded for boxers who have achieved a high level of fame and popularity, with the opportunity to capitalize on their name recognition and attract even more lucrative deals.

sponsorship opportunities in boxing

Boxer Sponsorship/Endorsement Deal
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Rolex ($2 million)
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez DAZN ($365 million)
Manny Pacquiao Nike ($1.5 million per year)

As the table above shows, top boxers can secure significant sponsorship deals. Floyd Mayweather Jr., for example, signed a lucrative deal with Rolex worth $2 million. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez secured a $365 million deal with streaming platform DAZN. Even retired boxer Mike Tyson, who hasn’t fought professionally since 2005, has secured endorsement deals with brands like Pepsi and Nintendo, showcasing the enduring appeal of boxing legends.

Overall, sponsorship opportunities can provide a valuable source of income for boxers, particularly those who have achieved a high level of success and fame within the sport.

Sponsorship Opportunities in UFC

The UFC sponsorship landscape has undergone significant changes in recent years, particularly with the introduction of the exclusive Reebok deal in 2015. Under the deal, all UFC fighters are required to wear Reebok gear during fights, and individual fighter sponsorships outside of the Octagon are limited.

This has led to some controversy among fighters, who have argued that the deal limits their ability to earn income through individual endorsements. However, the UFC has maintained that the deal provides a more consistent and streamlined approach to fighter sponsorships.

sponsored fighter in the octagon

Despite the restrictions on individual sponsorships, there are still opportunities for fighters to earn income through partnerships with brands and companies. Some UFC fighters have secured individual sponsorships with brands like Monster Energy and Harley Davidson, while others have leveraged their social media presence to secure sponsorships with fitness and lifestyle brands.

UFC Fighter Top Sponsors
Conor McGregor Reebok, Beats by Dre, Monster Energy
Jon Jones GAT Supplements, MuscleTech
Ronda Rousey Reebok, MetroPCS, Monster Energy

It’s worth noting that sponsorships in the UFC are not just limited to individual fighters. The organization has also secured partnerships with brands like Harley Davidson and Monster Energy, which have resulted in co-branded events and promotions.

“The Reebok deal has certainly changed the sponsorship landscape in the UFC, but there are still opportunities for fighters to earn income through partnerships with other brands and companies.”


After analyzing the earnings of boxers and UFC fighters, it is clear that both sports offer substantial financial rewards to their top athletes. However, there are significant differences in the compensation structures and factors that influence earnings for each sport.

Boxers have the potential to earn large sums of money through prize money, endorsements, and pay-per-view revenue. The historical payouts for iconic fights also make boxing a lucrative career for those who reach the top of the sport. However, there are controversies surrounding pay disparities and promotional control that can hinder some fighters’ earnings potential.

On the other hand, the compensation structure for UFC fighters is more complex, with a combination of base pay, fight bonuses, and pay-per-view shares. Top UFC fighters can earn significant income through performance bonuses, mega fights, and sponsorship deals, but there are ongoing debates about fighter pay reform and the fair distribution of revenue in the sport.

Ultimately, the financial rewards in both boxing and UFC depend on various factors, such as popularity, marketability, and championship status. Both sports offer opportunities for athletes to earn substantial income through sponsorships and partnerships with corporate brands. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude which sport pays more, as it largely depends on individual circumstances and opportunities.

Overall, it is clear that both boxing and UFC can provide significant financial rewards for their top athletes. Ultimately, the decision to pursue one sport over the other should be based on personal preference and career goals, rather than solely on earning potential.


Boxing vs UFC Earnings: Who Gets Paid More?

The earnings of boxers and UFC fighters can vary greatly depending on various factors. While there have been instances where top boxers have earned significant amounts, UFC fighters also have the potential to make substantial incomes through various revenue streams.

How do professional boxers earn money?

Professional boxers can earn money through various sources including prize money from fights, sponsorships, pay-per-view revenue, and endorsement deals.

What is the compensation structure for UFC fighters?

UFC fighters have a unique compensation structure that includes contracts, base pay, fight bonuses, and pay-per-view shares. The earnings of UFC fighters can also be influenced by factors such as their performance and popularity.

Who are some of the highest-paid boxers in history?

Some of the highest-paid boxers in history include legends like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, and Muhammad Ali. These boxers earned substantial amounts from iconic fights and major events.

How do top UFC fighters earn their payouts?

Top UFC fighters earn their payouts through various revenue streams including pay-per-view revenues, sponsorship deals, and performance bonuses.

What are some controversies surrounding boxing payouts?

Some controversies surrounding boxing payouts include pay disparities between fighters, issues with promotional control, and the influence of boxing organizations on earnings.

What controversies exist regarding UFC fighter compensation?

Controversies surrounding UFC fighter compensation include concerns about fighter pay reform, the push for unionization, and the ongoing debate about the fair distribution of revenue.

What factors influence boxing earnings?

Factors that can influence boxing earnings include a boxer’s popularity, weight class, championship status, and ability to sell tickets. Additionally, management and promotion play a role in securing lucrative opportunities for boxers.

What factors influence UFC fighter earnings?

Factors that can influence UFC fighter earnings include holding a title, marketability, fan base, and the ability to generate pay-per-view buys. Rankings and divisional dominance also play a role in fighter compensation.

What are sponsorship opportunities in boxing?

Boxers have sponsorship opportunities that can include brand endorsements, advertising revenue, and product placements, allowing them to earn significant income through partnerships with corporate sponsors.

What are sponsorship opportunities in the UFC?

Sponsorship opportunities in the UFC range from individual fighter endorsements to sponsorships within the Octagon. The exclusive Reebok deal and personal brand/social media presence can impact a fighter’s ability to secure lucrative sponsorship deals.


The earnings of boxers and UFC fighters depend on various factors and can vary greatly. While some boxers have earned significant amounts from iconic fights, top UFC fighters also have the potential to make substantial incomes through revenue streams such as pay-per-view and sponsorships. It is important to consider the unique compensation structures and circumstances surrounding each sport when comparing their financial rewards.

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