UFC stars’ earnings compared to Jake Paul amid row over fighters’ pay

Jake Paul and Dana White have been going at it in recent months, with the issue of fighter pay arising as one of the fan favourite points in Paul's argument.

The YouTube star is a 3-0 professional boxer having made his debut in January last year and will return to the ring to take on former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley on August 28 in a big Showtime Boxing event.

He has been vocal about the issues surrounding payouts for fighters in combat sports, particularly targeting White, who holds something of a monopoly on top tier MMA fighters.

Paul, who has reportedly already earned tens of millions from his young fight career, told Chael Sonnen last month that he believes fighters should be paid better for 'risking their lives'.

"It just sucks to see these young kids – these young boxers, these young UFC champions – get tied up into these contracts where they’re owned by the promoter.

"They’re owned by Dana White, and they’re not getting fair pay. They’re not getting the fights they want. This is a big problem.”

White has hit back at Paul, saying that the reported pay-per-view buys for his last fight with Askren in April, said to be between 1.2m and 1.6m, are bulls***.

"Jake didn’t do a million," White said after UFC 263 this week. "His brother [Logan Paul] did a million, him and Floyd did a million.

"Last time we did a press conference I told you all that Triller [Paul's former promoter who put on the Askren bout] stuff is a bunch of bulls***. They’re lying, their numbers aren’t what they claim."

We took a look at the numbers for how UFC's top fighters are paid, compared to the likes of the Paul brothers and other social media stars who have turned to boxing.

Conor McGregor

The former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion is the king of the fight game when it comes to active fighters, earning himself the number one spot on the list of richest athletes in the world this year.

He is said to have made $180m over the year spanning from May 2020 to May 2021, but the majority of that came from the sale of his Proper 12 whiskey brand and other endorsements, with that figure amounting to $158m.

That would mean he pocketed $22m, with a base of around $5m, to fight Dustin Poirier earlier this year in Abu Dhabi, and with a full crowd expected for his Vegas return next month, it's likely that will be much increased this time around.

He's seemingly the only UFC fighter who out-performs the Paul brothers for payouts, and even he has had issues with regards his pay, with the promotion refusing to match him up during the pandemic due to inability to put fans in the building.

Kamaru Usman

This is where it begins to get interesting.

Kamaru Usman is an active, reigning UFC champion, who has defended his title three times in the last 12 months against Jorge Masvidal twice and top contender Gilbert Burns.

Usman reportedly made $1.5m for his role in the promotion's first show back with fans in Florida last month; UFC 261, where he fought Masvidal in a highly-anticipated rematch.

His base fee to fight was $750,000, with that doubling after PPV buys, sponsorships and a performance of the night bonus for brutally knocking out Masvidal.

This would put his base pay at less than Logan Paul and KSI made in their pro debuts in November 2019.

The YouTube stars made $900,000 each, and they were allowed to wear sponsors on their shorts. They also earned a bonus based on DAZN's new subscribers that joined just for the bout.

Francis Ngannou

The Cameroonian Francis Ngannou won the UFC heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, the last pay-per-view that the promotion held without paying fans (although there was a small invited audience of celebrities and high-rollers).

He was paid a reported $730,000 including a win bonus of $150,000, meaning his base rate would have been around $580,000.

This is less than Jake Paul made just to show up against Ben Askren in April, with that figure rising into the millions when pay-per-view sales came into play.

It's only $80,000 more than Paul's opponent Askren made, and the former Olympian was allowed to wear sponsors on his shorts and entrance gear.

This differs from UFC fighters who are made to wear Venum gear, and may on occasion be allowed to put Monster Energy's logo on their shorts.

Israel Adesanya

New Zealand-based Nigerian fighter Israel Adesanya is one of the UFC's most bankable stars, and just defended his middleweight title for the third time, fourth if you count his undisputed title win over Robert Whittaker in to which he entered as interim champion.

And he reportedly took home just under $1.4m for his bout with Marvin Vettori this weekend at UFC 263, which is a tidy sum.

However, it doesn't come close to the amount that Logan Paul is estimated to have taken home for his exhibition bout with Floyd Mayweather earlier this month.

Paul was paid a $250,000 base rate, but earned 10% of the pay-pre-views, which reportedly topped the 1m mark, with fans paying $50 each to watch the bout, which went the distance and saw no winner crowned.

That would put Paul's earnings at $5.25m if you conservatively put a figure on his purse, before taking into account his independent sponsorships, which could also be in the millions.

Adesanya has a good relationship with the Paul brothers, having commentated on Jake's brutal KO win over Nate Robinson, and partying with him in LA after the bout.

Nate Diaz

Nathan Diaz is expected to have been given a cut of Saturday night's pay-per-view, where he lost a one-sided five-round decision to Brit Leon Edwards.

Assuming that to be the case, he would have made just over $1.1m for his role in the proceedings, making it his fourth seven-figure payday since beating Conor McGregor at UFC 196.

He earned $2m base to fight McGregor again at UFC 202, then scraped over the million mark to face Anthony Pettis three years later at UFC 241 before fighting Jorge Masvidal for the BMF belt at UFC 244.

He's one of the promotion's top earners, but TikTok star Bryce Hall reportedly made more for his fight against Austin McBroom on Saturday, with promotion Social Gloves reportedly paying him $5m for his losing effort.

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