As a hugely successful year for the UFC draws to a close, it’s time to reveal who the highest paid stars were in the Octagon in 2016.
In a year when the UFC was sold for a staggering $4.2 billion – the largest single franchise sale in sporting history – business has been booming for the promotion, with pay-per-view records being broken, several shows doing over one million buys and the state of New York finally being opened up as a lucrative new market.
The UFC’s biggest stars have also been able to cash in, with the record for the largest basic salary for a single fight having been shattered on several occasions and all 10 fighters on this list having made at least a seven-figure sum, though the general feeling is that fighters are still being underpaid, leading to increased discussion of unionization in the final months of the year.
Truth be told, it’s not possible to know exactly how much any fighter made in the past 12 months, as many avenues for fighters to boost their earnings are not publicly disclosed.
For instance, UFC champions are entitled to a cut of any pay-per-view event that they are part of, which could prove to be the lion’s share of their earnings for a successful show, but since the promotion doesn’t disclose it’s PPV numbers, any attempt to put a figure on this would be purely speculation.
On top of that, fighters will generally have other undisclosed income from things like sponsorship and endorsement deals outside of the Octagon, media work, TV and movie opportunities, seminars, etc.
With that in mind, the focus on this article will be on what we can say for certain that fighters earned in 2016 via their disclosed income from the UFC. That includes their basic salary as well as any fight night bonuses they may have won and Reebok sponsorship money that they are entitled to on a per-fight basis.
So, without further ado, let’s count down the top 10 best paid UFC stars in 2016.
10. Dominick Cruz: $1,020,000
Having only fought once in the previous four years, Dominick Cruz finally put his injury woes behind him in 2016 and fought a total of three times.
His initial title-winning fight against TJ Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 81 in January saw him take home a $110,000 basic salary, but that then jumped to $350,000, win or lose, for his next two fights a champion.
Cruz also took home two $50,000 ‘Fight Of The Night’ bonuses this year, and earned a further $110,000 in Reebok sponsorship money to just edge out his fellow FOX Sports 1 analyst Michael Bisping ($990,000) as the 10th best paid star of the year.