Light Heavyweights Rule UFC Pay Scale

BOSTON - AUGUST 28: Marcus Davis fights against Nate Diaz during their UFC welterweight bout at the TD Garden on August 28 2010 in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Purse information from UFC 132 once again highlighted the disparity in pay between guys like Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva compared to bantamweight headliners Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. Some of the disparity results from Ortiz and Silva being PPV stars. Some of it is a product of Cruz and Faber likely having their WEC contracts carried over after the assimilation into the UFC.

But there's also the issue of Silva and Ortiz both having 50+ pounds on their bantamweight counterparts.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao may have established themselves as the biggest money makers in boxing, but in the UFC, according to guaranteed base pay, the more you weigh, the more you get paid.

The follow table includes data from every UFC pay-per-view show in states that report purse information, all the way back to UFC 73. The numbers represent base pay only. No win bonuses. No fight night bonuses. And, obviously, no unreported bonuses or PPV percentages.

Mean Median Max Min
265 66429 21000 500000 4000
205 75125 25000 500000 3000
185 31144 17000 275000 4000
170 24483 15000 200000 3000
155 16730 12000 150000 3000

I eliminated bantam- and featherweights for obvious reasons. Max and min represent the highest and lowest figures in each weight class.

There's an obvious correlation as you move from lightweight to light heavyweight. Then the numbers dip at heavyweight. The intuitive explanation is that light heavyweight has been the UFC's marquee division historically, and the heavyweight division was a weak point in the company until the UFC signed the likes of Mirko Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Brock Lesnar.

This is by no means a groundbreaking find; the results are predictable, but I've never seen the numbers laid out in this manner. I've got some other ideas in mind, though, so consider this a jumping-off point.

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