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The Economics Of MMA: How Much Does It Cost To Be A Fighter?

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When a fighter makes a reported $250,000 for a UFC main event, it sounds like a lot of cash. But at the end of the day, they walk away with less than half. Jonathan Snowden explains why.

Xtreme Couture is typical of a high end training facility in MMA.
Xtreme Couture is typical of a high end training facility in MMA.
As the UFC has become a big business, the fighters have started to make what seems like a pretty good living. But preparing for a main event contest with an eight week training camp can be an expensive proposition. The UFC announced earlier this year that they would cover a fighter's health insurance while they are actively preparing for a UFC bout. That's great news.

The next step is covering a fighter's training expenses. It's part of what a promoter provides in boxing - for example, Miguel Cotto was paid $120,000 to prepare for his fight with Manny Pacquiao. In MMA, fighters are on their own for those costs.

How much does a fighter, earning a seemingly enormous $250,000, actually take home at the end of the night? I talked with a number of fighters, managers, and assorted MMA industry figures to find out. Here's the cost of doing business in MMA:

Manager/Agent: $25,000
High level coaches (grappling, striking, conditioning): $15,000
Dietitian: $7,500
Travel: $10,000
Housing: $10,000
Additional Training Partners (Five): $3,500
Rental Cars: $2,400
Food for Training Partners: $2,400
Flights for wife and kids to visit once: $1,500
Food: $2,000
Supplements: $1,000
Gear: $100
Rehab Sessions: $600
Massage: $225
Gas: $800
Taxes (18 %): $45,000

Total Cost: $127,025
Take Home Pay: $122,975

As you can see, a fighter at the top of the card has an incredible amount of money invested in each fight. It also shows how difficult it is for a fighter to come from the undercard to challenge a UFC champion. A fighter will need a big bankroll to be competitive.