The PFL is one of the more well-known mixed martial arts (MMA) organizations, however, the UFC is far more popular than the PFL currently.
While pay is a topic not many MMA fighters like to talk about openly, it’s very clear many MMA fighters earn huge sums of money. In this article, I will explain how much UFC and PFL fighters get paid and how they compare.
Overall, the UFC pays about 3 times more than the PFL. UFC title fights pay a fight purse of roughly $500,000 to $3 million per fight. Whereas, top PFL fighters pay a fight purse of roughly $75,000 to $500,000 per fight.
How much each individual fighter gets paid varies a lot based on how popular they are. But, there are some general trends in how much UFC fighters and PFL fighters are paid based on where they typically are on any given fight card, or where they finish in the PFL playoff format.
Below, I will give:
- Some examples of fighter salaries
- Details on how much more MMA fighters in the UFC and PFL earn on top of the fight purse
- UFC vs PFL fight purse only
- UFC vs PFL – extra sources of income
- PFL Vs Bellator pay
- How much bigger is the PFL than the UFC
Side-by-Side Breakdown of UFC vs PFL Pay
The ‘fight-purse’ is how much an MMA fighter gets paid to show up, as well as additional money if they win.
On top of that, there are a few additional ways that they earn more for each fight appearance.
Therefore the total an MMA fighter in the UFC or PFL gets paid can be substantially more than what they get for the fight purse.
Here are two tables that show a comparison of how much UFC fighters earn for the right purse based on how popular they are. The second table shows how much money they earn in TOTAL (fight purse + additional income):
PFL vs UFC Pay (fight purse only)
|How popular a fighter is||Where they typically fight on a fight card||UFC pay (purse only)||PFL pay (purse only)|
|Most popular||Fighters who hold a title or have in the past||$500,000 to $3 million||$500,000 to $750,000|
|Fairly popular||Fighter who generally fights on the main card||$80,000 to $250,000||$75,000 to $100,00|
|Fighters that are not well known||Prelims (undercard)||$10,000 to $30,000||$10,000 to $30,000|
|Fighters who are unknown||Early prelims||$10,000 to $30,000||$10,000 to $30,000|
PFL vs UFC Pay (total income from all sources)
|How popular a fighter is||Where they typically fight on a fight card||UFC pay total||PFL pay total|
|Most popular||Fighters who hold a title or have in the past||$5 million to $20 million||$1 to $4 million|
|Fairly popular||Fighter who generally fights on the main card||$360,000 to $1 million||$300,000 to $400,000|
|Fighters that are not well known||Prelims (undercard)||$40,000 to $120,000||$40,000 to $120,000|
|Fighters who are unknown||Early prelims||$40,000 to $120,000||$40,000 to $120,000|
The PFL is slightly different from other MMA organizations (such as the UFC) because the structure of their events is a league. Fighters that win advance to the semi-finals, and then into the finals for each weight class.
At the finals, the fighter that wins earns CONSIDERABLY more. In the most recent PFL events, the fighter who won the finals for each weight class got paid an additional $1 million.
The PFL pay their fighters in 3 ways:
- To show up to a fight
- If they win a fight
- If they win the entire league for their weight class
But, both the PFL and UFC fighters can also earn more from:
- Pay-per-view buys. Fighters negotiate a percentage of the total pay-per-view buys
- Signing bonuses. These are one-offs and vary based on how popular a fighter is
- Money from sponsors. A percentage of what sponsors pay to the UFC or PFL
For example, if a fighter is currently with the UFC and they are a big name, then the PFL will often offer them a considerable lump sum as a signing bonus.
On the other hand, new or lesser-known fighters will get a smaller signing bonus. The same is true for fighters in the UFC.
To get an idea of how much the fight purse is, the official numbers have recently been released for some of the top fights.
Here’s a table that shows how much the fight purse was that each fighter got (fighters were in 2022):
|Fighter 1||Fight Purse||Fighter 2||Fight Purse|
|Jeremy Stephens||$100,000 to show, $100,00 to win||Miles Price||$12,000|
|Omari Akhmedov||$103,000 to show, $103,000 to win||Teodoras Aukštuolis||$15,000|
|Antonio Carlos Jr.||$49,000 to show $49,000 to win||Bruce Souto||$10,000|
|Stevie Ray||$40,000 to show, $40,000 to win||Anthony Pettis||$750,000|
|Lance Palmer||$85,000 to show, $85,000 to win||Sheymon Moraes||$29,000|
|Kayla Harrison||$500,000 to show no win bonus||Kaitlin Young||$20,000|
|Ray Cooper||$150,000 to show and $50,000 win||Brett Cooper||$20,000|
(source: MMA Talk)
The PFL Has Only Recently Started Doing PPV Events
Until recently, the PFL did not hold pay-per-view events. In 2023, they did their first pay-per-view event.
Peter Murray, the CEO of the PFL has stated that he is currently negotiating with ESPN to see what makes more sense: to show certain events on ESPN or do a pay-per-view format.
As part of a deal MMA fighters make with the UFC, typically they negotiate a percentage of how much is earned from the sales of the streamed pay-per-view. They also make money when people buy them as past fights on services like UFC Fight Pass.
At this stage, there are no official statistics about how much PFL fighters earn from pay-per-view buys.
But, it’s well known that UFC fighters get up to about 5% of the pay-per-view buys.
Exactly how much they get depends on how they negotiate. For example, they may negotiate for more of the pay-per-view buys in exchange for less of something else.
Daniel Cormier, a well-known commentator, and previous UFC heavyweight champion stated in an interview that MMA fighters typically negotiate anywhere from 2.5% to 5% of the pay-per-view buys (source).
Based on the large numbers of pay-per-view buys this often ends up being a huge sum of money.
Ways That The PFL Is Aiming To Compete With The UFC
In 2023, the PFL started to become recognized as a reputable MMA organization. They have expressed a big interest in signing new talent.
And aren’t afraid to pay large sums of money to draw the biggest MMA fighters that are now free agents (for example, Nate Diaz, and Cris Cyborg.)
Interestingly, the PFL has explained that fans of MMA are very underserved, and they have a desire to really grow their company, and provide much more events.
They are also doing a range of different things to differentiate themselves.
One of the most interesting aspects is they are looking to incorporate statistics and a way of doing MMA similar to the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
For example, measuring things such as:
- Measuring striking capability
- Measuring strength and conditioning
- Reaction time and reaction skill
It’s true that the UFC also does record key statistics, such as ‘takedown defense percentage’, and ‘percentage of take downs’. But, the PFL is aiming to provide more in-depth and interesting measurements.
PFL vs Bellator Pay
Bellator is another high profile MMA organization.
They have signed various MMA fighters that used to fight for the UFC, such as Rory McDonald, and Benson Henderson.
Below, is how the pay compares between Bellator and the PFL.
The first table shows how the fight purse compares between PFL and Bellator, and the 2nd table shows how the total pay compares between the PFL and Bellator.
PFL vs Bellator Pay (Fight Purse Only)
|How popular a fighter is||Where they typically fight on a fight card||Bellator pay (purse only)||PFL pay (purse only)|
|Most popular||Fighters who hold a title or have in the past||$125,000 to $900,000||$500,000 to $750,000|
|Fairly popular||Fighters who generally fight on the main card||$18,750 to $25,000||$75,000 to $100,00|
|Fighters that are not well known||Prelims (undercard)||$2,500 to $7,500||$10,000 to $30,000|
|Fighters who are unknown||Early prelims||$2,500 to $7,500||$10,000 to $30,000|
PFL vs Bellator Pay (total income from all sources)
|How popular a fighter is||Where they typically fight on a fight card||Bellator pay total||PFL pay total|
|Most popular||Fighters who hold a title or have in the past||$250,000 to $1 million||$1 to $4 million|
|Fairly popular||Fighter who generally fight on the main card||$75,000 to $100,000||$300,000 to $400,000|
|Fighters that are not well known||Prelims (undercard)||$10,000 to $30,000||$40,000 to $120,000|
|Fighters who are unknown||Early prelims||$10,000 to $30,000||$40,000 to $120,000|
As a fighter that is either not well known or completely unknown, it’s quite difficult to do MMA as a career. This is largely due to the costs involved in training.
However, once a fighter starts to get a name for themselves they can begin to do it for a career, and if they fight a few times per year, they make considerable sums of money.
How Much Bigger Is the UFC Than the PFL?
The UFC is currently the largest MMA organization in the world and sells significantly more pay-per-view viewers than other organizations like the PFL, and Bellator. But, how much bigger is the UFC than the PFL?
Overall, the UFC is about 30 times bigger and more popular than the PFL. This is based on the number of pay-per-view buys, and the number of Youtube subscribers their official Youtube channels have.
The official UFC Youtube channel has about 15 million subscribers, whereas the official PFL Youtube channel has about 420,000 subscribers. The number of pay-per-view buys for UFC events has totaled as much as 3,000,000.
On the other hand, the PFL has only just started doing pay-per-view events.
The PFL has not yet sold a pay-per-view that has made it into the top 200 most popular combat sports pay-per-view events of all time.
Is PFL Owned By The UFC?
Most well-known brands are owned by parent companies that aren’t very well known. These companies often own many different brands and companies, and draw large investors.
The PFL is much smaller to the UFC, but here is if the PFL is owned by the UFC:
The PFL is not owned by the UFC. The PFL is owned by MMAX Investment Partners, Inc., an investment company. The CEO of the PFL is Peter Murray. Whereas, the UFC is owned by Endeavor Group Holdings, and the president of the UFC is Dana White.
Endeavor Group Holdings is primarily an investment and media company. They own many subsidiaries that oversee artists, film, television, and audio content (source: Endeavorco.com).
Previously, it was well known that the UFC was owned by Zuffa. However, Zuffa was sold to Endeavor Group Holdings in 2016.
Does The PFL Pay Well?
MMA fighter pay has come under a lot of scrutiny recently. Some MMA fighters have expressed strong opinions about what MMA fighters get paid relative to what they need to do to be competitive in MMA.
The PFL has started to sign many big names in MMA that previously fought for the UFC, so here is if the PFL pays well.
Overall, the PFL does not pay well. However, MMA fighters that are well known such as Anthony Pettis do get paid very well. It was publicly reported that PFL paid Anthony Pettis a purse of $750,000 for a recent fight. But, unknown fighters typically don’t get paid well.
The PFL format is a little bit different, where if one fighter wins the entire league, they can win $1 million dollars. But, they also get a lump sum to fight, and typically a bonus to win.