As the UFC faces a pending class action lawsuit, fresh insights into the payouts for marquee fighters Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, and CM Punk have come to light. Legal proceedings slated for 2024 have precipitated the release of financial documents detailing earnings from 2011 through 2016, casting a spotlight on the pay structure of the combat sport's elite athletes.
Investigative reports from MMA-focused media outlet Bloody Elbow present a detailed account of these financial revelations. Ronda Rousey, a dominant force exclusively in the UFC octagon during those years, has had the financials for all eight of her fights disclosed.
Her debut in the UFC Bantamweight Championship against Liz Carmouche earned her a commendable $574,720. However, the stakes and her earnings rose sharply with her first title defense against Miesha Tate, bringing in a hefty $1,817,907.
Subsequent bouts showcased her drawing power, with paydays of $870,969 against Sara McMann, and scaling up to $4,879,766 for her final fight with Amanda Nunes. Despite the crescendo of her earnings reaching its zenith, her career in the UFC concluded with two losses before she transitioned to a new chapter with WWE.
Lesnar's Lucrative UFC Stint
Brock Lesnar's UFC tenure, while brief in the same timeframe, was no less lucrative. The crossover WWE superstar's 2011 bout with Alistair Overeem netted him a staggering $3 million despite a loss.
His controversial 2016 return at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt, initially a victory later nullified due to banned substances, earned him an $8 million payout, a record-breaking purse reflecting his star status despite forgoing pay-per-view proceeds for a guaranteed flat rate.
Meanwhile, CM Punk's venture into the UFC saw him commanding an impressive $1,042,736 for his debut, despite falling to Mickey Gall. His career earnings, while modest in comparison to his peers, underscore the lucrative potential for crossover athletes in the UFC.
The unfolding legal challenge facing the UFC may shine a further light on fighter compensation, but for now, these figures provide a rare glimpse into the financial rewards at the pinnacle of mixed martial arts competition.
As fans and commentators alike parse through these numbers, the discourse around athlete pay in combat sports is sure to intensify.