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Now we know UFC 218's biggest payout, and a helpful salary median


Disclosure is always a finicky thing with state athletic commissions when it comes to fighter payouts.

Sometimes, you get a neat spreadsheet of show and win purses (hat tip to you, California). Sometimes, you get a batch of bout agreements from weigh-in day, or just get a cell phone picture of payouts.

Many commissions consider the information proprietary – akin to a trade secret – and won’t give you anything. One state got its rules changed to keep numbers away from inquiring reporters (looking at you, Florida).

That’s what makes the response from Michigan’s commission unusual. MMAjunkie recently requested the full list of show/win purses and medical suspensions for UFC 218 from the Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission, which oversaw the Dec. 2 pay-per-view event at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. One week later, The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), which oversees the commission, responded to say our request was “granted in part and denied in part.”

Here’s their statement about fighter pay:

“As to the partial grant, LARA is permitted to disclose that of the 26 contracts associated with UFC 218, 23 included an option for an additional bonus purse if the contestant won his or her contest. The guaranteed purse amounts for showing up to the contest ranged from $10,000 to $850,000, with the average being $93,154 and the median being $33,000. Concerning the 23 contracts that included the option for a bonus amount if the contest won his or her contest, the optional bonus amounts ranged from $10,000 to $110,000, with the average being $32,913 and the median being $33,000.”

It’s not the first time MMAjunkie has been denied numbers. But the fact that someone in the office went the extra mile to calculate the event’s average and median salaries is kind of hilarious, and also mildly irritating.

So now we know the top disclosed show purse was $850,000, and the win purse was $110,000. If history is any indication, those numbers could belong to UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem, whose lucrative contract has been a bone of contention for champ Stipe Miocic. Overeem (43-16 MMA, 8-5 UFC) earned every bit of his pay for taking Francis Ngannou’s (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) uppercut from hell.

Of course, the top number could also be UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC), who inked a new deal before again starching ex-champ Jose Aldo (26-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) in the event’s headliner. But we really can’t know.

Although it’s a small sample size, the $33,000 median for show and win purses say a lot about where most of the fighters sit on the UFC pay ladder. For every Overeem, there are a lot of guys grinding it out for five figures.

As far as medical suspensions, LARA had this to say about the fighters.

“Additionally, fifteen contestants were technically knocked out and suspended for 30 days or were rendered ineligible to compete for a period of days after the event. The minimum period was 30 days with the maximum being 180 days with some contestants rendered ineligible pending medical testing and further medical examination.”

So there you have it. We gave it a shot. Better luck next time.

For complete coverage of UFC 218, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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