How Much Do Amateur MMA Fighters Make? (6 Ways to Earn)

Photo by Rkisker

Are you wondering how much amateur MMA fighters make?

In this article, we’ll examine whether amateur MMA fighters get paid, how much amateur MMA fighters make, the different ways amateur MMA fighters make money, and the number of fights an amateur MMA fighter must have before going professional.

Do Amateur MMA Fighters Get Paid?

Amateur MMA fighters don’t get paid to fight. There isn’t any mention of payment on the contracts they sign. Being paid and not being paid to fight is what separates an amateur from a professional. Once an MMA fighter is paid for fighting under contract, they’re a professional MMA fighter.

However, although amateur MMA fighters aren’t paid for fighting, there are ways they can make money. Let’s take a closer look.

How Much Do Amateur MMA Fighters Make? (And How?)

There isn’t a specific amount amateur MMA fighters make, just as there isn’t a specific amount professional MMA fighters make. However, in short, amateur MMA fighters can make between $100 to $600 per fight if they commit time and effort to sell (discussed below).

Based on these numbers, an amateur MMA fighter can make $600 to $3600 per year if they fight 6 times (once every 2 months).

However, amateur MMA fighters make no money for fighting and most operate at a loss after expenses are deducted.

This includes travel, accommodation, loss of work if they get badly injured, loss of time where they could’ve been earning money elsewhere, and all the money spent on the fight preparation such as gym fees, gear, and food.

Having said that, amateur MMA fighters can make money in the 6 following ways.

  1. Percentage of ticket sales
  2. Discretionary/locker room payment (undisclosed)
  3. ‘Generous’ promoters who might cover some expenses
  4. Sponsorships which fighters advertise at the MMA event and online
  5. Selling their own merchandise at the MMA event or online
  6. Receiving financial support via crowdfunding

Let’s take a closer look at how amateur MMA fighters can make between $100 to $600 per fight through these 6 ways.

1. Percentage of Ticket Sales

Amateur MMA fighters can make money by selling tickets to the event they’ll be fighting at. Amateur MMA events aren’t the biggest draw, so if fighters make the promoter money, they’re compensated for this via a percentage of ticket sales (a commission).

There aren’t set percentages, meaning it’s negotiable with the MMA promoter. If a fighter agrees to 10% of ticket sales and sells $1,000 worth of tickets, they just pocketed $100.

The time it takes to sell many tickets in person means time’s better spent working a job elsewhere, which is what many amateurs do. The best option for earning ticket sales commission as an amateur MMA fighter is to build an online presence and sell tickets this way.

The larger the following the more likely to sell tickets and earn higher commissions. This is really no different from the professional MMA fighters who sell their fights via press conferences, social media, trash-talking, and generally just making noise.

An amateur MMA fighter’s likely to make between $100 to $200 per fight from ticket sales commission if they put the work in.

2. Discretionary/Locker Room Payment (Undisclosed)

The most unlikely way, but entirely possible, is for amateur MMA fighters to make money via discretionary payments (under the table). MMA promoters may pay some amateur fighters this way if they believe they’re a big draw and they want them to continue fighting with their promotion.

This is likely reserved for amateur fighters who have a decent online following and can drive ticket sales, or who the promotion believe has the potential to become professional. This is because people will hear about their promotion if a fighter becomes famous.

Some amateur MMA fighters may also be paid ‘under the table’ for accepting a late notice fight in order to keep the promised number of fights at an event. Most often this will be at an event with a mix of professional and amateur fights because there’s more expectation and money involved.

A promoter giving an amateur $100 to save an event is nothing compared to the long-term value of keeping the promotion’s reputation intact.

3. ‘Generous’ Promoters Who Might Cover Some Expenses

Again, this is the exception and not the rule. Some promoters who’ve had a successful event in terms of attendance and profit may be inclined to cover some expenses for select fighters. As mentioned above, this is reserved for the fighters they want back fighting at their next event.

They’ll give $50 to $100 to cover travel and hotel expenses. Some MMA promoters may pay for these before an event if they want to secure quality fighters with an online following, but most won’t for fear of fighters flaking.

4. Sponsorships

Amateur MMA fighters with an online following and/or the ability to sell themself can make money via sponsorships. Amateurs can find sponsorships by messaging/emailing businesses online and making phone calls, and by communicating with their gym as they likely have connections.

Fighters may be asked to market the sponsor online and at the MMA event via clothing or a banner. In return, the amateur MMA fighter receives the negotiated amount, likely $100 to $200.

Most amateurs are at the beginning of their journey and don’t have the following to earn more than this, but it’s entirely possible to do so.

5. Selling Personal Merchandise

While most MMA promotions won’t allow MMA fighters to sell merchandise inside the event, they can be sold outside and online. 

This is all part of building a personal brand and results can vary wildly. Sold merchandise may be hats, t-shirts, and other clothing items. $100 profit is an achievable number for each fight.

And while this is definitely a viable option for amateur MMA fighters to make money, most are better off focusing on improving their fighting skills and becoming professional before selling merchandise.

6. Crowdfunding

Amateur MMA fighters can make money via crowdfunding or asking fans for financial support. Crowdfunding is raising money via lots of small donations in order to fund a project or venture – which in this case is the journey to becoming a professional MMA fighter.

Again, this is why building an online following is so important for amateur MMA fighters. It starts opening many doors and the opportunity to crowdfund is one of them.

Here, the possibilities are endless but the goal should be raising enough money to cover the lifestyle which allows them to train religiously, improve MMA skills, accept more amateur fights, and become professional.

Some great crowdfunding options are:

  • GoFundMe
  • Indiegogo
  • Kickstarter
  • Fundable
  • Patreon

How Many MMA Fights Before Going Professional?

The amount of MMA fights an amateur MMA fighter needs before going professional isn’t concrete. 10 amateur fights is the number suggested by most trainers, coaches, and fighters, due to the experience gained.

However, to become professional, an amateur simply needs to apply for a professional MMA license in the state they live in, also known as a Combative Sports Professional License.

As taken from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, a successful applicant need only proof of an amateur record or of the ability to compete. In other words, fighters can get a professional MMA license if they’ve had at least one amateur MMA fight and are willing to pay $50.

However, if a fighter has a professional MMA license but only 1 or 2 fights, it’s much harder for them to get a professional MMA promotion to sign them.

If a fighter’s had 10 amateur fights or they’ve won their first 5 amateur fights, they’re much more likely to sign a contract with a professional MMA promotion because they have more experience.

It’s unlikely an MMA promotion will sit down and check every opponent a fighter has faced, so amateurs with better records sit atop the pile of applications. However, if a fighter has a large online following and only 1 amateur fight, they’re also likely to get a contract – it’s all business at the end of the day.

The Bottom Line

So, ‘how much do amateur MMA fighters make?’

Amateur MMA fighters make no money from fighting as earning money from fighting is what separates a professional fighter from an amateur MMA fighter. However, amateur MMA fighters can make between $100 to $600 per fight if they commit time and effort to sell.

More specifically, amateur MMA fighters can make money via ticket sales commissions, discretionary payments, sponsorships, selling personal merchandise, crowdfunding, and possibly having their event expenses covered by the event promoter.

If a fighter can build an online following and prove their skills, it’s possible for them to receive thousands of dollars via crowdfunding.

Overall, the amount of money an amateur MMA fighter makes is so low it’s not even worth thinking about. It’s just a distraction from what matters most, which is improving skills and winning a few amateur fights and competitions to become a professional MMA fighter.

Once an MMA fighter turns professional and joins a top MMA promotion like the UFC, they’ll start earning enough to focus on MMA full-time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *