Over the last few years, the salaries for some Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stars have drastically increased, specifically for titleholders and big-name draws.
Look no further than this past weekend’s (Sat., Sept 10, 2016) UFC 203 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which saw three fighters equal or surpass the half a million mark, including CM Punk, who made a cool $500,000 for his MMA debut, while Alistair Overeem made $800,000, $200,000 more than the champion that knocked him out, Stipe Miocic.
The big money-makers, however, are Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, who banked $3 million and $2 million, respectively, for their rematch at UFC 202.
But not everyone is making retirement-type money just yet, as UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson tells Submission Radio that he can’t come close to retiring off the money he’s made so far as the longtime champion of his division.
"I'm only 30 now and I had 10 years. I've fought for the UFC since 2011. So what is that? Essentially, five years I've competed in the UFC and I've been the champion for almost four years. I can't retire right now. So if I was an NFL player and I played four years and won the Super Bowl four years in a row, I guarantee I can fucking retire. You're starting to see a lot of fighters like, 'we want more money so we can be able to retire eventually,' instead of, we get to 30 years old and we're like, 'alright, I think Costco has openings.'"
Johnson has long declared his quest to obtain a big-money fight against current bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. And now that UFC is under new and wealthy owners, "Mighty Mouse" plans on turning up the heat on his fight requests.
But his price tag won’t be cheap.
"I think $2 million is fair. I think it's $2 million. Obviously we don't have the same fanbase, you know, we're not prom king or prince or duke or whatever like Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz are. But I'll tell you what, our skillset and what we've done in the past as mixed martial artists in this sport - shit, Dominick Cruz has defended his belt more times than Conor McGregor has and Conor McGregor is more active than Dominick Cruz. So that right there, just what we bring to the table as athletes and what we've done in this sport, I think that deserves two million dollars, especially since the UFC got bought for 4.2 billion dollars. WME-IMG has the cash to front this fight."
Of course, the sticking point isn’t what you want, but what you bring to the table. And while Johnson has been dominant, he doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to PPV buys.
And in this business, if you want to get paid the big bucks, you have to bring them in, as well. Still, one can’t fault Johnson -- or any other fighter, for that matter -- to want to up their salaries.
That said, if his big-money fight never comes, "Mighty Mouse" says he’ll keep chugging along and "kicking ass" at 125 pounds like he’s been doing; with his next challenge coming at the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24.