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Michael Bisping lawsuit reveals former UFC champion’s partial career earnings

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A lawsuit lodged against Michael Bisping by his former manager has shed light on the middleweight’s UFC earnings.

UFC: Bisping v St-Pierre Press Conference Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Michael Bisping and his former coach and manager Anthony McGann (of the UK’s Wolfslair gym) had been in a legal battle over $349,000 that McGann claims the ‘Count’ owes him. The sum relates, according to McGann, to missed payments by Bisping between 2005 and 2011.

McGann claims he had a contract stating he was due 15%-20% of Bisping’s gross purses. Bisping claimed that McGann had forged such a contract and that he had not agreed to those terms.

In December it was revealed that British courts had sided with McGann and ordered Bisping to pay his former manager over $400,000. This came after a contentious hearing, in which Mr. Justice Salter of the London High Court took issue with the evidence presented (and behavior) of both Bisping and McGann.

Today, Erik Magraken of CombatSportsLaw.com released his analysis of the proceedings. Through court documents, Magraken also revealed detailed information regarding Bisping’s UFC career earnings between 2006 and 2014.

In relation to Bisping’s disclosed total earnings per bout Magraken noted the following amounts:

vs. Josh Haynes, TUF 3 Finale, June 24th, 2006 – $25,000

vs. Eric Schafer, UFC 66, December 30th, 2006 – $140,000

vs. Elvis Sinosic, UFC 70, April 21st, 2007 – $169,000

vs. Matt Hamill, UFC 75, September 8th, 2007 – $149,000

vs. Rashad Evans, UFC 78, November 17th, 2007 – $212,000

vs. Charles McCarthy, UFC 83, April 19th, 2008 – $149,000

vs. Jason Day, UFC 85, June 7th, 2008 – $226,000

vs. Chris Leben, UFC 89, October 18th, 2008 – $279,000

vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 100, July 11th, 2009 – $306,000

vs. Denis Kang, UFC 105, November 14th, 2009 – $346,000

vs. Wanderlei Silva, UFC 110, February 21st, 2010 – $252,000

vs. Dan Miller, UFC 114, May 29th, 2010 – $400,000

vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, UFC 120, October 16th, 2010 – $412,000

vs. Jorge Rivera, UFC 127, February 27th, 2011 – $424,000

vs. Jason Miller, TUF 14 Finale, December 3rd, 2011 – $425,000

vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC on FOX: Evans vs. Davis, January 28th, 2012 – $300,000

vs. Brian Stann, UFC 152, September 22nd, 2012 – $425,000

vs. Vitor Belfort, UFC on FOX: Belfort vs. Bisping, January 19th, 2013 – $300,000

vs. Alan Belcher, UFC 159, April 27th, 2013 – $425,000

vs. Tim Kennedy, TUF Nationa Finale, April 16th, 2014 – $300,000

The earnings for the 20 fights listed above total $5,664,000.

The disclosed earnings, which were provided to the court by Bisping, offer a rare opportunity to view the role independent sponsorships could have played in the UFC prior to the exclusive Reebok deal that the promotion signed in 2014.

By contrasting Bisping’s disclosed earnings against his disclosed fighter purse, it is possible to roughly estimate how much Bisping earned via sponsorship and other considerations (like ‘locker room’ bonuses).

The Sports Daily’s MMA Manifesto has tracked the disclosed estimated career earnings of Michael Bisping (and many other fighters). They list earnings per bout, including the fighter’s disclosed show and win money, publicly announced performance bonus, and Reebok sponsorship payments (from UFC 189 onward). Their figures do not include independent sponsorships, PPV points, or locker room bonuses.

MMA Manifesto’s figures for Bisping’s career earnings between 2006 and 2014 are presented below (along with how they differ from the amounts listed in the Bisping/McGann court records):

vs. Josh Haynes, TUF 3 Finale, June 24th, 2006 – $20,000 (-$5,000)

vs. Eric Schafer, UFC 66, December 30th, 2006 – $24,000 (-$116,000)

vs. Elvis Sinosic, UFC 70, April 21st, 2007 – $54,000 (-$115,000)

vs. Matt Hamill, UFC 75, September 8th, 2007 – $28,000 (-$121,000)

vs. Rashad Evans, UFC 78, November 17th, 2007 – $16,000 (-$196,000)

vs. Charles McCarthy, UFC 83, April 19th, 2008 – $32,000 (-$117,000)

vs. Jason Day, UFC 85, June 7th, 2008 – $36,000 (-$190,000)

vs. Chris Leban, UFC 89, October 18th, 2008 – $40,000 (-$239,000)

vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 100, July 11th, 2009 – $150,000 (-$156,000)

vs. Dennis Kang, UFC 105, November 14th, 2009 – $340,000 (-$6,000)

vs. Wanderlei Silva, UFC 110, February 21st, 2010 – $175,000 (-$77,000)

vs. Dan Miller, UFC 114, May 29th, 2010 – $325,000 (-$100,000)

vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, UFC 120, October 16th, 2010 – $415,000 (+$3,000)

vs. Jorge Rivera, UFC 127, February 27th, 2011 – $385,000 (-$39,000)

vs. Jason Miller, TUF 14 Finale, December 3rd, 2011 – $425,000 ($0)

vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC on FOX: Evans vs. Davis, January 28th, 2012 – $275,000 (-$25,000)

vs. Brian Stann, UFC 152, September 22nd, 2012 – $425,000 ($0)

vs. Vitor Belfort, UFC on FOX: Belfort vs. Bisping, January 19th, 2013 – $270,000 (-$30,000)

vs. Alan Belcher, UFC 159, April 27th, 2013 – $425,000 ($0)

vs. Tim Kennedy, TUF Nationa Finale, April 16th, 2014 – $300,000 ($0)

The total amount of discrepancies between the figures disclosed by Bisping in court (representing his entire earnings for a bout) and the estimated payments totaled by MMA Manifesto (for show/win money and performance bonuses) is $1,532,000. Which means that, for 20 fights between 2006 and 2014, Bisping might have earned approximately $1,532,000 from a combination of independent sponsorship and locker room bonuses.

The biggest discrepancy between total disclosed payment and fight purse numbers – which are usually disclosed by athletic commissions – relates to Bisping’s fight with Chris Leben at UFC 89 in 2008. MMA Manifesto’s estimated purse for Bisping for this fight is $40,000 ($20,000 for showing, $20,000 for winning).

In court, according to Magraken, Bisping disclosed that he made $279,000 for that fight ($239,000 more than his estimated purse). Bisping vs. Leben was the headliner of UFC 89, which took place in Birmingham, England. It was broadcast on Spike TV in the US and Setanta Sports in the UK and Ireland (on tape delay).

The next largest sum Bisping may have made beyond his fight purse (during this time period) was reportedly earned when he faced Rashad Evans at UFC 78. MMA Manifesto has Bisping earning just $16,000 to show versus Evans. He lost the fight via a razor thin decision.

Reportedly, in court Bisping claimed to have made $212,000 from the bout ($196,000 more than his estimated fight purse). Bisping vs. Evans headlined UFC 78 and sold around 400,000 pay per views.

According to fight purse estimates and Bisping’s court disclosures, in his matches with Tim Kennedy, Alan Belcher, Jason Miller, and Brian Stann between 2011 and 2014 Bisping did not earn anything more than his estimated fight purse.

The fights with Kennedy and Miller were headliners on TUF Finale cards. The fight with Kennedy aired on FS1. The fight with Miller was one of the last live UFC fights to air on Spike TV (followed only by two prelims at UFC 141). His fight with Belcher was the co-main of UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen, which sold around 530,000 ppvs. His fight with Stann was on the main card of UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort, which sold around 450,000 ppvs.

The court records do not show Bisping’s income for what has been the most successful period of his career. After losing to Luke Rockhold in 2014, Bisping beat CB Dolloway, Thales Leites, and Anderson Silva. He then lifted the UFC middleweight title after beating Luke Rockhold in a rematch at UFC 199. He defended the belt versus Dan Henderson in 2016, before suffering back-to-back losses to Georges St-Pierre and Kelvin Gastelum in 2017.

According to MMA Manifesto Bisping received the biggest fight purse of his career ($540,000) opposite GSP at UFC 217. That site estimates Bisping’s total career earnings (fight purses/perf. bonuses/Reebok sponsorships) at over $7,000,000.