How Much Do MMA Managers Make & What Do They Do?

Are you wondering how much MMA managers make and what they do for the fighters they manage?

In this article, we’ll look at how much MMA managers make, what they do for a fighter, whether they’re worth it or needed, and some of the most reputable MMA managers and MMA companies around.

How Much Do MMA Managers Make (in the UFC)?

How much MMA managers make varies greatly and actual numbers are undisclosed. 

However, as a general rule, MMA managers make 5 to 20% from each fighter they manage. This may be 5 to 20% from just a fighter’s show and win purse, but it can also be a fighter’s total earnings or somewhere in between, as negotiated between the fighter and manager.

As the UFC is the most open in terms of UFC fighter pay, let’s take a look at how much MMA managers make in the UFC, based on these percentages.

The lowest show and win payments for UFC fighters are $10,000 each, for a total of $20,000.

Therefore, if a UFC fighter wins, the lowest an MMA manager makes is between $1,000 to $4,000 per fighter, per fight, and if they lose it’s between $500 to $2,000, per fighter, per fight.

Taking the average UFC fighter pay of $41,726 per fight (total earnings) excluding the 11 highest-paid outliers, MMA managers in the UFC make on average between $2,086 and $8,344 per fighter, per fight.

As UFC fighters fight on average 3 times per year, MMA managers in the UFC make an average of $6,258 and $25,032, per fighter, per year.

Based on these average earnings, if an MMA manager has 10 UFC fighters, they’ll make between $62,580 and $250,320 per year. Of course, there isn’t a cap on how many fighters a manager can have, which is why the amount MMA managers make is very diverse.

MMA managers are self-employed and how much they make depends on their hard work, how well they market their services, and ultimately their ability to acquire more fighters and fighters who earn the most money.

If an MMA manager is making more than just a fighter’s win and show purse, they’ll be making 5 to 20% from some or all of a fighter’s total payments, which include:

  • ‘of the night’ bonuses ($50,000 per bonus)
  • PPV points
  • Fight week incentive pay
  • Discretionary bonuses
  • Miscellaneous payments
  • Sponsorships and endorsements

Most MMA managers have separate percentages for fight purses and money deals (sponsors) they source and bring in – where money deals are often 20%.

While the UFC doesn’t allow fighters to have sponsors on their clothing while fighting, some promotions like Bellator and KSW (Poland) allow it and MMA managers often make 20% on these.

Whether an MMA manager makes 5 to 20% from only a fighter’s show and win purse, or from a fighter’s total earnings, is completely dependent on the negotiations between the two parties.

It makes more sense for fighters to pay a higher fee when starting out, as they’re not earning a massive amount, and having an experienced and well-connected manager will get them higher pay and in top MMA promotions faster.

When a fighter is elite-level and in the top 10 of the UFC, it makes more sense for them not to pay higher percentages, as their earnings are now much higher and a manager isn’t going to offer them much more than what they used to.

This is especially true if a UFC fighter is earning PPV points, reserved for UFC champions and sometimes challengers (at the UFC’s discretion). PPV points are dependent on PPV sales and pay between $1 to $2.50.

Conor McGregor earned $5.1 million from PPV points for UFC 229. Whether his MMA manager earned 5 to 20% from his PPV points payment is unknown, but these are all things fighters need to consider when signing contracts with managers.

What Do MMA Managers Do For a Fighter?

Taking 5 to 20% from a fighter’s win and show purse or a fighter’s total earnings can be a lot of money. So what do MMA managers do for a fighter to justify how much they make?

MMA Managers Making 5%
MMA managers making 5% from a fighter negotiate contracts and find suitable fights for their clients. 

Negotiating contracts means getting a fighter the most amount of money, often for the longest period of time or the most amount of fights to secure their clients’ future earnings.

A manager should know when it’s best for a fighter to sign a contract for 5 plus fights or between 1 and 3. Many fighters won’t want to be tied to an MMA promotion for too many fights if they feel they can earn more money elsewhere or where they currently are.

MMA managers making 5% should also be able to find suitable fights for their clients. MMA managers want their clients to win as many fights as possible and lose as little as possible, they have a common goal seeing as their earnings scale off their clients’ earnings. 

If a fighter is released from a promotion, a manager essentially just lost a client and money from their pocket.

MMA Managers Making 10%
MMA managers making 10% should do all of the above and also spend their time finding sponsorship and endorsement deals for their clients – which they’ll take 20% from.

Finding these money deals involves emailing and cold calling hundreds if not thousands of potential suitors.

Depending on the manager, they’ll also help with minor things behind the scenes such as booking flights for a fighter and their team and other general tasks. Less-known managers with fewer clients will likely be the ones who go the extra mile in this price range.

One thing they’ll all do is pressure and be on the MMA promotion’s case to book their client a fight so that a fighter isn’t left without a fight for months at a time.

MMA Managers Making 15 or 20%
MMA managers making 15 or 20% should do all of the above plus sorting paperwork, organizing medicals, athletic commission registrations, organizing training, all travel, setting up meetings and training partners, helping with and creating digital content, developing a fighter’s brand, managing press opportunities, media training, and effective public speaking training.

They’ll also connect a fighter with suitable lawyers and insurance companies, make sure licenses are up to date, path and plan a fighter’s next career options, help a fighter manage and organize their time, link a fighter with the best coaching, gym, and nutritionists, and chase down all payments owed.

Some MMA managers may have martial arts experience and can fill in as training partners. Essentially, they’re doing everything a fighter needs. They should be a phone call away and there for a fighter as a friend and business partner.

As it’s a lot of work, MMA managers making 15 or 20% often have large management firms with enough staff to offer the best service.

So, now we’ve seen what MMA managers make and what services they provide for each payment bracket, is it possible for MMA fighters to do this work themselves?

Do MMA (UFC) Fighters Need Managers?

Whether MMA (UFC) fighters need managers is debatable. Some believe they’re essential and others believe fighters can manage themselves.

Here are the two bands of thought:

Yes, MMA fighters need managers for the following reasons:

1. Focus
If MMA fighters have a manager, it allows them to focus on the one thing that’s important, which is fighting. Fighting well and winning is the only thing that keeps them in the job and increases the money they make – everything else is a distraction.

It could be argued they could manage themselves, but it means they’re sacrificing hours and days which could be spent training and improving. 

It’s added stress and the fighters who’ve tried to manage themselves end up getting a manager because it’s a surprising amount of work – building a brand, organizing everything, and spending hours trying to source sponsors. 

The best way to source sponsors is to become a better fighter and become more known, which is easier when work is outsourced to a manager.

2. Negotiations
Most MMA fighters need a manager to negotiate for them. Yes, fighters can negotiate themselves but inexperienced fighters who don’t know any better end up getting a much worse deal than an experienced manager would get for them.

MMA fighters aren’t salespeople or negotiators, and MMA managers are trained and experienced in negotiating improved deals – especially since this sees their money increase too.

Many of the most experienced MMA managers have connections and good relationships with the top MMA promotions, which saves time and makes the whole process more efficient.

Fighters also find it much harder to understand complex UFC contracts and other promotions’ contracts. They’re full of legal lingo which a manager has experience deciphering.

3. Support and shared goals
Having a manager means a fighter has someone in their corner supporting their interests. Both parties benefit when a fighter wins and earns more, and as MMA can be a lonely sport, having a manager there helps a fighter mentally.

No, MMA fighters don’t need managers for the following reasons:

1. The fees are too high
It can be argued that fighters spending time reading and understanding a complex MMA contract are better than giving away 5 to 20% of their fight purse or total earnings.

Most of the stories involving fighters being unhappy with their contract have nothing to do with signing a contract and not understanding some of the terms and conditions or clauses, and much rather about signing for too many fights for too little money because they’re not in a position to decline the money.

2. Some have poor communication and are untrustworthy
Bad managers may cause problems with an MMA promotion, which reflects poorly on a fighter. Bad managers who are untrustworthy may do things behind their clients’ backs, such as rejecting fights without consulting their clients first. 

Some fighters have had fights rejected without ever knowing about it.

3. MMA managers don’t have leverage
MMA managers don’t have leverage during negotiations. MMA promotions are in the position of power (especially the UFC) and can offer take-it-or-leave-it contract deals. 

The amount of money and type of contract offered is always based on the fighter’s skill, potential, and current brand.

The only time a manager has some leverage is if they manage a high number of fighters and fighters in high-ranking positions in top MMA promotions. 

Here, an MMA promotion can clearly see what this manager can offer them: good fighters, good relationships, and experience – and so they may be inclined to offer better contract terms.

4. Do MMA Managers Need a License?
No, MMA managers don’t need a license to work with professional fighters, which is another issue and one of the reasons why fighters decide not to have a manager.

There’s no barrier to entry to becoming an MMA manager and no professional standards that managers must follow. Managers can start recruiting and offering services immediately.

This means managers without experience have nothing to prove their ability in the job and one of the reasons why experienced MMA managers have lots of fighters under them.

Fighters always choose experience and this makes managers do less work as they know the experience gets them referrals and new fighters regardless.

Who Are the Best MMA Managers or Management Teams/Companies?

With the sport of MMA being just shy of 3 decades old, the first mover’s advantage is huge.

Some of the most recognized/best MMA management companies are as follows:

  1. Dominance Management – With 15 years of experience and based in Las Vegas, Dominance manages names like Frankie Edgar, Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns, and Khabib. They have over 150 fighters, with 80 of them in the UFC.
  2. Ruby Sports and Entertainment – Manages many contemporary UFC fighters like Joanne Calderwood, Michael Chiesa, Rafael Fiziev, and Petr Yan.
  3. Dodge Sports – 15 years experience and manages names like Aaron Phillips who made it to The Ultimate Fighter, and Jesse Taylor who’s a former TUF winner.
  4. First Round Management -They have a huge team and have managed many of the best UFC fighters, with a total of 150 clients across the globe and 12 UFC champions, including Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson.
  5. Zinkin Sport Management – Zinkin offers many services, one being pre-professional development; and has guided fighters Daniel Cormier and Cain Valesquez this way.
  6. Paradigm Sports – Founded in 2009, Paradigm has managed many UFC champions and other great fighters such as Gunnar Nelson, Israel Adesanya, Connor McGregor, Johnny Walker, Jiri Prochazka, and Leon Edwards.

Although subjective, some of the most known or best MMA managers in the fight game are Ali Abdelaziz (Dominance Management), Malki Kawa (First Round Management), Matthew Dodge (Dodge Sports), Ed Soares, Audie Attar (Paradigm Sports), DeWayne Zinkin Jr (Zinkin Sports) and Daniel Rubenstein (Ruby Sports).

The Bottom Line

So, how much do MMA managers make?

MMA managers make 5 to 20% of a fighter’s win and show purse, total earnings, or somewhere in between as negotiated between the fighter and manager.

This may be seen as a lot for fighters to hand out, especially considering all the other fighter expenses.

However, MMA managers make 5 to 20% based on the services they offer and there’s a reason the majority of MMA fighters have managers – most fighters see a return on their investment and can concentrate on the main thing which is fighting, everything else is secondary.

Improving skills, consistently winning, and building a brand (which a manager will do) are the best ways for an MMA fighter to 10x their earnings, if not more – and this can be more easily achieved with an MMA manager.

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