Ronda Rousey has competed for UFC and performed for WWE, so she knows a thing or two about what it’s like to get paid by each organization. And while “Rowdy” entered the world of professional wresting as an established commodity — and bona fide millionaire — there was a time in the not-too-distant past when Strikeforce was paying her a paltry $4,000 per fight.
Rousey’s final UFC fight, a Dec. 2017 knockout loss to Amanda Nunes, banked her $3 million.
For athletes just getting into the business, Rousey gave a clear advantage to WWE, which provides salaries and accommodations for its talent whereas in UFC, fighters only get paid for the nights they compete, including their “terrible” sponsorship bonuses from Reebok.
“WWE’s even better, because everyone’s on salary,” Rousey told Steve-O on his official podcast (transcribed by Damon Martin). “It’s not like you show up for a fight, you get paid, you show up for a fight, you get paid. They’re treated like employees. They actually are on a salary, it’s much more secure. If people get injured and they can’t perform months and months and months on end, they can actually continue to pay them and pay for their medical treatment and make sure they’re taking care of. They do their best not to leave people high and dry. They really invest in talent and spend time building and developing them. As soon as they hire people, they’re on salary right away, which is very, very different from having these lumps of prize money.”
UFC has certainly come a long way in the last 20 years and now covers medical expenses from competition or training-related injuries. It also constructed state-of-the-art facilities in Las Vegas and Shanghai for both established and up-and-coming talent.
Like “Rowdy” explained in her Steve-O interview, WWE also had a significant head start. When The Undertaker defeated Giant Gonzales at WrestleMania IX, UFC was still seven months away from its first event. In addition, most pro wrestlers on the independent circuit are paid per show and have no access to corporate training facilities or in-house medical personnel.
Rousey, 33, has not competed for WWE since early 2019.