twitter google

Cung Le emerges as highest paid fighter at UFC 139

Despite suffering a knockout loss to Wanderlei Silva, Cung Le picked up $420,000 for his efforts at UFC 139 this past weekend. Le’s check includes $70,000 he was awarded with Silva for one of two “Fight of the Night” honors as well as $350,000 in base salary. Comparably, Silva picked up $270,000 for his efforts in defeating Le.

Main event fighters Dan Henderson ($320,000) and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua ($235,000) were also named “Fight of the Night” after their thrilling five-round war that sent both men to the hospital afterwards.

Urijah Faber pushed his salary to $134,000 after earning both a $32,000 win bonus and another $70,000 for claiming a “Submission of the Night” bonus after choking out Brian Bowles. On top of the money, Faber also earned a shot at UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz with his victory.

The listed salaries for the fighters do not include any locker room bonus or money earned from sponsorships.

Here is a full rundown of UFC 139 payroll including event-specific bonuses:

Danny Castillo: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus) def. Shamar Bailey: $8,000
Seth Baczynski: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) def. Matt Brown: $12,000
Miguel Torres: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus) def. Nick Pace: $4,000
Gleison Tibau: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus) def. Rafael Dos Anjos: $16,000
Chris Weidman: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus) def. Tom Lawlor: $12,000
Michael McDonald: $84,000 (includes $7,000 win bonus, $70,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus) Alex Soto: $6,000
Ryan Bader: $48,000 (includes $24,00 win bonus) def. Jason Brilz: $13,000
Stephan Bonnar: $68,000 (includes $34,000 win bonus) def. Kyle Kingsbury: $10,000
Martin Kampmann: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus) def. Rick Story: $19,000
Urijah Faber: $134,000 (includes $32,000 win bonus, $70,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus) def. Brian Bowles: $19,000
Wanderlei Silva: $270,000 (no win bonus, includes $70,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus) def. Cung Le: $420,000 (includes $70,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus)
Dan Henderson: $320,000 (no win bonus, includes $70,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus) def. Mauricio Rua: $235,000 (includes $70,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus)

PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE

12 COMMENTS
  • Richard Stabone says:

    I respect what Cung Le has accomplished in the fight game over the years, but it seems silly that he could step into the octagon for the first time with a guaranteed base salary that exceeded what other legends of the sport (Hendo, Wandy, Shogun) made on the same freaking card, even with their FOTN bonus tacked on.

    Fighter compensation in the UFC still seems really wacky, and probably will remain that way until a union is eventually formed.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • edub says:

    Hendo and Rua both get a cut of the PPV profits. Wand might too.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Richard Stabone says:

    Yeah, the surface numbers released by the commission don’t tell the whole story, but nonetheless it seems wacky.

    Another way to put it: if you take away the big guns (Hendo, Wandy, Shogun, Faber), Cung Le’s stated salary was significantly higher than the guaranteed based pay of the other 19 fighters on the card combined. Only after you factor in the win bonuses and $70K McDonald got for his KO does the combined pay for the other 19 fighters edge out Mr. Le. Maybe that says more about the other guys being underpaid rather than Cung being over-compensated, but one way or another I’d like to see a little more balance in spreading the wealth.

    A guy like Kyle Kingsbury puts together a 4-fight winning streak in the UFC, and his next time out the UFC cuts him a check for $10K? I mean, c’mon.

    Rick Story, coming off a fight that saw him jeopardize (and lose) his winning streak by taking a fight on short notice (and sticking with that decision after the Marquardt fiasco which helped the UFC somewhat salvage that event), goes home after another entertaining, hard-fought fight with less than $20K from the UFC. In what his 9th fight under the UFC banner. Weak.

    I dunno. Maybe I just like to complain.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • edub says:

    It’s all about if you can draw. Very few people in that arena were watching the event to see Mcdonald, Kingsbury, or Story. Le probably drew 2,000 people to that arena by himself. He’s still a pretty popular guy.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Lord Faust says:

    Check how many logos you see on their clothes. I know the raw numbers look like a raw deal, but it’s only a surprise to us: every one of those fighters knew what they would be making. (The PPV cuts aside, since they’re not a known quantity — a known *element* however.)

    Seeing Cung Le get such a high rate makes me think it’s probably the same amount, win or lose, and he probably has no other incentives aside from the potential bonuses. These are all shots in the dark, of course.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Richard Stabone says:

    I understand the dynamics of fighter popularity & drawing power, both when it comes to matchmaking and fighter salaries. But there should be a reasonable happy medium.

    And while it’s true the fighters sign the contract ahead of time and know what they’re making (or have potential to make), it’s not like they have a lot of options. Especially as each competing org gets swallowed up by Zuffa.

    They do earn a fair amount via endorsements, which is thanks in large part to the platform the UFC provides, but the UFC even jerks with guys at times with the endorsement stuff too.

    Maybe things will change with the growing popularity and recent network deal, but in the meantime I just think these fighters–across the organization as a whole–are grossly underpaid. The figures released from this card seemed to highlight that point even further.

    Dana has talked about his excitement & satisfaction with being broadcast on the same Fox network where viewers have long watched the NFL & MLB. But in MLB, for example, the minimum salary was just recently kicked up to $480K. Nobody is flocking to the ballparks or tuning in to watch the banjo-hitting middle infielders or catchers, but they’re still all being paid handsomely. So while Dana might feel like MMA/UFC is starting catching up to the big boys as far as being a mainstream professional sports, the fighters must feel like they’ve still got a loooong ways to go.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • edub says:

    We share the same opinions Richard, and as i pointed out in an article I wrote on the FOX deal for queensberryrules.com a couple months back; nothing will be done until the fighters stand their ground and Unionize. There’s a reason why every major sport outside of boxing has an athlete’s union.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Richard Stabone says:

    I think Dana (and company) have done a tremendous job building up the UFC to where it is today, and I’m fine with them reaping the rewards for their tireless efforts. And during the still relatively early stages of MMA/UFC going mainstream, I can understand the rationale & value of pumping $$ into the growth/marketing of the sport rather than tying it up in fat paychecks for the fighters.

    But eventually something’s gotta give — at the end of the day, the fighters are the real cash cow and should be compensated accordingly. Most of them have a very short window to capitalize financially, while the UFC can just bring in the next crop of talent. Unions can pose a different set of headaches for a growing sport, but like edub said it figures to be a matter of time before the fighters come together and say enough is enough, share the loot.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Creature says:

    I understand that there is a lot of behind the scenes pay that happens, but still.. having Cung have a higher base pay than 3 Legends? i doubt hes a bigger draw than any 3 of them.. kind of ridiculous, all i have to say on it

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • THEGUNNER says:

    Its just like any other non union job the boss (dana) does what he wnats.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Lord Faust says:

    The thing that seriously gets overlooked every time this discussion happens is the fact that the UFC is a private company. These are simply the disclosed fight purses. The UFC has every capability to remunerate these fighters through other means; media appearances (beyond “I am fighting this guy on this date”), commentary positions, TUF, and that’s without getting creative.

    The point is, we really don’t know what these guys are making. A lot of them have side businesses. Shane Carwin’s an engineer for crying out loud!

    While I absolutely, unequivocally agree that the fighters should be making as much money as is feasibly possible, we just don’t know enough about fighters’ private finances to get too outraged. A part of me is somewhat glad the fight purses (and the purses only) aren’t gigantic, as it does force a certain degree of self sufficiency; not everyone will be a champion, and even fewer will make enough to retire on anyway.

    A lot of problems with this discussion is that we conduct it as though these fighters live in a vaccum; they just *are*. There are so many factors; whether fighters run their own gyms, have an education, have other businesses — or aspirations to run other businesses, etc. Just evaluating proper compensation in fight purse amounts is really missing the big picture view.

    Yes, improvements need to be made, but I’d love to see some comparable figures for boxing events. Disregarding the name fighters like the Pacquiao and Mayweather, I am genuinely curious to know the fighter payouts. I don’t think the UFC fighters have it that badly, not that improvements cannot be made, of course.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • edub says:

    Every major boxing star (whether in Europe, the USA, or anywhere else) makes more money than it’s counterpart. Whether it’s Mayweather, Pacquiao, Cotto, Margarito, Bute, Alvarez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Haye, both Klitschko’s, Helenius, Mosley, Berto, Khan, Donaire, Ortiz etc..

    Now undercard fighters make a lot more in the UFC, but headlining main event fighters make a lot more in boxing.

    And the reason for that is they consistently make the majority of the profits off every event (usually around 60-80%), whereas the UFC consistently take more than 50% as a promoter.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

LEAVE A COMMENT!

You must be logged in to post a comment.