MMA has gone from dying fringe sport to lucrative financial triumph. Over the last 15 years the UFC has given the most significant raises out of any sport on the planet. But it’s not just the money these guys are making in the cage. The elite fighters have been able to secure major endorsement deals with some of the largest brands in the world. The listing of the top 11 highest paid MMA fighters has some of the usual suspects and some that will certainly surprise you.
Jon Jones is the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and has been successfully defending that championship since 2010. Despite a large amount of controversy surrounding the New York native, he has been able to make a considerable amount of money inside the cage. He was able to secure an endorsement deals with both Nike and Gatorade. But trouble has followed Jones over the last year. Gatorade denied they had a deal with him at all and Nike dropped his agreement in September of 2014. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson became one of the most well known names in the UFC after joining in February of 2007. He held the belt for a short period and made millions of dollars per fight. Jackson got into the film industry most notably being apart of The A-Team movie. More recently he teamed up with Reebok to release a Rampage shoe. The “IceMan” is a UFC Hall-of-Famer and one of the most recognized fighters in the world. Liddell was a favorite with both the fans and the UFC brass and helped the UFC break into the mainstream and was rewarded for it by Dana White and crew. Liddell’s biggest payoff was at UFC 66 vs Tito Ortiz when their fight drew over 1 million PPV buys on TV. Although Liddell’s last fight came in 2010 against Rich Franklin, his earnings power still remains strong. Ortiz was one of the first UFC stars and knew how to sell himself to fans. Love him or hate him, you wanted to see him fight. He had his ‘Punishment’ clothing brand. He recently signed up with Bellator where the 39 year old will look to remain a draw in the fighting world. He remains one of the most well known fighters in the world. Silva is one of the most exciting fighters to watch and has been apart of some of the greatest fights in MMA history. He was one of the biggest names and highest paid in Pride and came over to the UFC with a huge fan base that helped support his massive salary. ‘Wand’ has his own clothing line as well as a gym in Las Vegas. Although a recent suspension for skipping a drug test will seriously limit his ability to earn and could be the end of his historic career. Today he is WWE star currently, but at one point Lesnar was the biggest name in MMA. He was able to make millions with his short UFC stint and made even more working with the WWE. He remains one of the highest grossing fighters in UFC history and could yield similar results should he ever venture back to the cage. Although he doesn’t have any major endorsement deals he has one of the best schedules in pro sports, only working a few nights a year. Fedor made his name as the fight worlds ‘greatest secret’ and plowed through everyone in his run with Pride. He had big pay days with fights vs Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski and was part owner of the fight promotion M1 Global that put on big events in Europe. A proposed super fight between he and Brock Lesnar that could have been the biggest fight of all time never materialized. Fedor will go down as one of the greats but timing and circumstance would have improved his legacy. Couture is one of the greatest MMA fighters to ever live and is renowned for being able to hold two different titles in two different weight divisions. Near the end of his career Couture was earning over $1 mill per fight and fought until he was 47. Couture has a line of gyms and has more recently turned to acting leading a role in the Expendables films. Standing tall at six feet two inches tall, Silva didn’t lose a fight for roughly seven years before Chris Weidman finally ended his streak in July of 2013. Silva became a huge draw on PPV and one of the highest paid in UFC history. Silva is one of the most recognizable athletes in Brazil and has deals with many large brands including Nike and Burger King in South America. Penn’s ability to stay in the UFC for an extended period of time has made him a wealthy man. Penn began fighting in the UFC all the way back in 2001 as a 22 year old. Despite a record of only 16-10 he remains one of the biggest draws in the sport. Penn comes from a wealthy family and is a part owner of the RVCA clothing line. BJPenn.com is also one of the most popular MMA websites online making Penn our number 2 most wealthy fighter in MMA. The biggest name in the UFC, St Pierre has been able to ride his incredible in cage success with huge deals outside. St. Pierre was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world before he “retired” in November of 2013, after an amazing streak of 12 straight wins (All title fights) UFC talking head Joe Rogan estimated that St Pierre was “making $5 mill per fight” near the end of his contract putting him into the stratosphere for UFC earnings. With endorsement deals with Under Armour and Gatorade, as well as his own ‘GSP Rush Fit’ training system, St Pierre tops our list as the richest MMA fighter today.