UFC Fight Night 80: Namajunas vs. VanZant – Who’s Getting Paid?

7 Dec , 2015,
McKinley Noble
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UFC Fight Night 80 may be an all-Fight Pass card, but it’s quietly become one of the most stacked MMA events of the year with plenty of great prospects in competitive, high-stakes bouts. It’s worth watching for Rose Namajunas vs. Paige VanZant alone, but the whole main card (and a chunk of the preliminaries) is filled with pay-per-view caliber fights.

There’s many hype trains and winning streaks that could be derailed here, and depending on who’s victorious, a lot of contractual value is being put at risk for many fighters. Let’s look deeper into the details as we dive into the previous UFC fighter salaries and last Reebok sponsorship payouts for the main card talent.

Note: Divisional rankings via Fight Matrix. UFC salaries and Reebok figures via MMA Payout and MMA Junkie.


Rose Namajunas [#7 W115]
$25,000** [TUF 20 Finale]

Paige VanZant [#21 W115]
$26,500 = $12,000/$12,000 + $2,500* [UFC 191]

Analysis: Paige VanZant may be young, over-ranked in the UFC system, and benefiting from favorable match-making, but the buck stops here. While there’s not too much difference rankings-wise between Rose Namajunas and Joanne Calderwood [#8 W115] — PVZ’s original opponent — VanZant is running a much higher risk of a damaging stoppage loss in this short-notice switch.

Given that VanZant is one of the few fighters with an exclusive Reebok deal, a loss here (especially a one-sided beating) could hurt PVZ’s long term earning potential, too. At the very least, both women are on a similar level in disclosed pay, with the potential for a big jump in Reebok sponsorship money via title contention.


Jim Miller [#31 LW]
$92,000 = $46,000/$46,000 [UFC 168]

Michael Chiesa [#28 LW]
$48,000 = $24,000/$24,000 [UFC Fight Night 63]

Analysis: It’s interesting to note that Jim Miller hasn’t had a disclosed paycheck since December 2013, especially given that he’s one win removed from an 0-2 skid against Donald Cerrone and Beneil Darish. There’s little reason to see Miller as a title contender, but he’s a fairly active mid/top-tier fighter who’s 20 bouts into his UFC tenure either way — meaning he’ll max out his Reebok money after this fight.

Michael Chiesa isn’t paid nearly as much as Miller by disclosed figures, but as a still-developing talent, arguably has just as much upside. If he wants to drastically increase his worth in one shot, a win over the durable and well-known Miller will go a long way.


Sage Northcutt [#209 LW]
N/A (No Salaries Reported)

Cody Pfister [#186 LW]
$22,500 = $10,000/$10,000 + $2,500* [UFC 189]

Analysis: To be honest, it’s a little surprising that Sage Northcutt wasn’t given an invite to join Team UFC/Reebok right after his debut. Not only was his post-fight victory flip a viral sensation, but he’s getting the big UFC promotional push right out of the gate.

If Northcutt beats Cody Pfister, that also might be the last time you see him on Fight Pass. Either way, we’ll at least know what Sage Northcutt’s pay rate is after the next weekend.


Elias Theodorou [#26 MW]
N/A (No Salaries Reported)

Thiago Santos [#39 MW]
$32,000 = $16,000/$16,000 [UFC Fight Night 70]

Analysis: Another young fighter of particular interest, Elias Theodorou is a talent who should continue to be a keystone of future UFC cards in Canada. Unlike Sage Northcutt’s step up in competition, though, a striker like Thiago Santos seems like a far more dangerous task for Theodorou.

Whatever Theodorou’s paycheck turns out to be once the Las Vegas paperwork comes in, expect it to inflate significantly if he can keep the undefeated streak going for another year. At 27 years old, the Canadian has a lot of promise, especially if he cuts down to welterweight or moves to a better camp.


Other Notes: Interestingly, UFC Fight Night 80 is going with a four-main card instead of five or six fights, leaving #11-ranked bantamweight Aljamain Sterling (and #5 in the UFC rankings) with an immensely difficult fight against Johnny Eduardo on the prelims. It’s worth noting that Sterling has been publicly critical of his pay rate, last reported to be $8,000 in “show money” at UFC 170.

Also, it’s weird that Tim Means [#30 WW] is fighting John Howard [#34 WW]. Means has been on a nice clip at 8-4 in the UFC (with 4-1 in his last five fights), while Howard is one win removed from a pretty unfortunate 0-3 slide. Per UFC 189’s disclosed fighter salaries, both make in the mid $20,000’s on base pay, so the loser probably isn’t getting cut.


# = Rankings Position
* = Reebok Sponsorship (since July 2015/UFC 189)
** = Loss, disqualification, no-contest, or no win bonus

UFC / Reebok Sponsorship Tiers

UFC Champion — $40,000
Title Challenger — $30,000
21+ UFC bouts — $20,000
16 to 20 UFC bouts — $15,000
11 to 15 UFC bouts — $10,000
6 to 10 UFC bouts — $5,000
1 to 5 UFC bouts — $2,500

Disclaimer: UFC salaries and Reebok payouts do not represent the full value or accurate dollar amounts paid to UFC fighters, which includes private gifts, unreported bonuses, and total undisclosed pay. “Performance of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” UFC bonus are not included. These figures also do not account for taxes, insurance, miscellaneous commission fees, or fighter expenses including traveling costs, gym fees, medical payments, coach salaries, and fighter management.


Follow McKinley Noble at @KenTheGreat1.