Modern day MMA is all about “money fights”. Meanwhile, fans who have been around since the pioneering days of the sport remember when money hardly factored into the equation at all.
There was no money in the early UFCs, just a chance to earn a reputation. There wasn’t even the hope that succeeding in MMA could lead to a higher paying job elsewhere initially. Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn would eventually turn their mild fame into WWE contracts however, but for the most part, nobody was getting into MMA for the money.
Even after Zuffa purchased the UFC, there still were precious few fighters earning good money. The second era of fighters (Couture, Liddell, Ortiz etc.) would earn far more in their twilight years than they did in their prime.
For the purposes of this article we went through the list of the greatest fighters of all-time and looked at their disclosed career earnings. Seven poorly-compensated fighters jumped off the page, and have been featured in this article. Statistics have been provided by Tapology. Earnings statistics do not take into consideration Reebok or fighter sponsorship numbers, but still provide a general overview of how much fighters made throughout their career.
Not all fighters on this list failed to earn based on the era they competed in however. In fact, we start this list with one of the most well-known, and under-compensated, fighters of the modern era:
7. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino
(disclosed career earnings: $388, 000)
Cyborg is not paid like the big time star that she is. Since she hasn’t fought much in the UFC, her sponsorship pay from the Reebok deal is next to nothing, a measly $2500 per fight.
For her fight with Lina Lansburg back in September, Cyborg received $65,000 to show, and $65,000 to win for the biggest pay day of her career. It sill equals less than 1/3 of what CM Punk was paid for his only ever professional MMA bout ($500,000 plus).
Things could change drastically for Cyborg shortly however. As she is in a championship fight at UFC 214 she will get PPV points for the show. The main event is supposed to be Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier, but as Cormier has pointed out, we don’t even know if Jones is going to make it to the fight.