The UFC has quietly become one of the most profitable sports in the world over the past few years.
One of the world’s fastest-growing sports leagues, the MMA promotion company has developed a reputation for paying fighters poorly, which has led to some fighters leaving the UFC altogether. In fact, UFC only paid about 13% of their total revenue to fighters in 2022.
Despite being one of the lowest-paying major American sports, fighter Conor McGregor has found a way to build $600 million off of his UFC career.
In 2016, UFC was bought out by Endeavor for $4 billion. Now, it has a valuation of $12.1 billion with a $1.5 billion broadcasting deal with ESPN worth $1.5 billion. Last year, the company brought in $400 million in profits but only paid out $146 million to their fighters and athletes.
Most fighters need to claw their way to headline a fight, but Conor McGregor found quickly ascended to becoming the highest-paid athlete, thanks to his ability to promote himself.
After compiling a 22-6 career record, McGregor made over $100 million from the company.
However, most of McGregor’s empire has been built outside of the octagon, where he’s sued his name, image, and likeness to generate million-dollar deals. McGregor has made undertaken several multi-million business ventures, allowing him to build a net worth of over $600 million.
Conor McGregor’s Humble Beginnings & Rise to Fame
McGregor started boxing at the age of 12 because he was bullied at school. He went on to an eventual superstar in the MMA world and became the first UFC fighter to ever win two division titles.
Though the story isn’t so clear cut, McGregor began his journey as a plumber at the age of 18 to make ends meet. With work taking so much time away from training, McGregor quit his job and lived off welfare checks to focus on his MMA career.
When McGregor got his shot, he earned $76K in one night, $8,000 for showing up, $8,000 for winning, and a $60,000 bonus for earning the knockout of the night. In one night, McGregor made more than he had in five years of fighting, which was only a total of $10,000.
How McGregor Made Over 100 Million from UFC
During McGregor’s UFC career, he made over $100 million with the company. In his debut alone, he made $76,000, beating Marcus Brimage in 67 seconds. From there until 2015, McGregor won five fights in a row collecting four performance bonuses (totaling $210,000) and a fighter salary of upwards of $170,000/year. He continued his climb and became the first two-division champion in UFC history where he averaged $13.3 million per fight.
His biggest payday came when he fought Floyd Mayweather in a celebrity boxing match that sold 4.3 million pay-per-views, bringing in over $600 million in revenue. McGregor brought home anywhere between $85-$130 million for that fight, nearly surpassing his UFC career earnings.
In 2018, McGregor returned to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov during UFC 229, which made him $32 million. Since then he’s fought three times from 2020 to 2021 earning over $75 million.
Just based on his career fights, McGregor has already made well over $263 million.
Conor McGregor on Forbes Highest-Paid Athletes in the Last 7 Years
When it comes to the UFC, McGregor is one of the most recognizable names and arguably the company’s biggest star. But his performance outside of the ring has been more impressive, as he’s been able to take advantage of his platform to become one of the highest-paid athletes ever.
Currently, McGregor sits No.33 on the highest-earning athletes of all time at $615 million, which is more than Magic Johnson, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rory McIlroy, Magic Johnson, and more.
- 2016 — $22 million (#85)
- 2017 — $34 million (#24)
- 2018 — $99 million (#4)
- 2019 — $47 million (#21)
- 2020 —$48 million (#16)
- 2021 — $180 million (#1)
- 2022 —$43 million (#35)
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