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UFC 116 Fighter Salaries: Lesnar earns 10-times more than Carwin

In what should come as no surprise, Brock Lesnar was the highest paid fighter during last weekend’s UFC 116 event from Las Vegas with a reported $400,000 paycheck for his efforts. In what should come as a minor surprise to many, his opponent Shane Carwin picked up $40,000 for his troubles, which means Lesnar was paid ten-times the amount Carwin was for his appearance in the main event of the evening.

Also among the highest paid athletes to compete at UFC 1116 were Chris Leben ($86,000), who also picked up a hefty “Fight of the Night” bonus check for his third round triangle submission of Yoshihiro Akiyama in a back-and-forth war between middleweights, and Chris Lytle ($52,000) who submitted Matt Brown with a nasty reverse triangle/straight armlock in a welterweight battle.

A full list of the disclosed fighter salaries for UFC 116 is below:

Brock Lesnar: $400,000 (no win bonus) def. Shane Carwin: $40,000

Chris Leben: $86,000 ($43,000 win bonus) def. Yoshihiro Akiyama: $45,000

Chris Lytle: $52,000 ($26,000 win bonus) def. Matt Brown: $10,000

Stephan Bonnar: $50,000 ($25,000 win bonus) def. Krzysztof Soszynski: $10,000

George Sotiropoulos: $24,000 ($12,000 win bonus) def. Kurt Pellegrino: $25,000

Brendan Schuab: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus) def. Chris Tuchscherer: $12,000

Ricardo Romero: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus) def. Seth Petruzelli: $10,000

Kendall Grove: $50,000 ($25,000 win bonus) def. Goran Reljic: $5,000

Gerald Harris: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus) def. David Branch: $6,000

Daniel Roberts: $12,000 ($6,000 win bonus) def. Forrest Petz: $6,000

Jon Madsen: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus) def. Karlos Vemola: $8,000

27 COMMENTS
  • Angry Mike says:

    Leben is the man. Two fights in two weeks. He earned every penny of the bonus.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    Well Carwin only brought $40,000 worth of cardio. heh, heh, heh. I’m only kidding people!

  • Rece Rock says:

    “…Lesnar was paid ten-times the amount Carwin was for his appearance in the main event of the evening.”

    Since Lesner also provided 100x the amount of buyrates as any other fighter on the card, I think he deserves the nice chunk of change he received.

  • primetime says:

    …and don’t forget that Lytle, Bonnar, and Grove only made more money because of the win bonus. Carwin would have made $80,000 had he won the fight. Akiyama making $5,000 more than Carwin on his base amount is ridiculous though.

    Hats off to Leben…his performance over the last two fights made me a fan.

  • mattman says:

    As many times as it’s been discussed that these payouts don’t represent what fighters actually make I can’t believe we still get headlines and articles like this.

  • Dufresne says:

    If they had signed their contracts today, I would completely agree that Akiyama making more is ridiculous. But when they signed Akiyama was coming off of wining the DREAM lightweight and middleweight tournaments as well as K1 Hero’s light heavyweight tournament. When Akiyama came in he was already a very established MMA star with his only loss being to a guy that weighed almost 100 pounds more than him who also happens to be one of the most respected kickboxers in history.

    Carwin came into the UFC as basically a newcomer. He was 8-0, but how many times have we seen someone with a pretty impressive looking record come in and either completely flop or turn out to be mediocre at best? Carwin has probably signed at least one contract renewal since he first came to the UFC 5 fights ago. I don’t think the UFC gives newcomers 5 fight contracts at $40k a pop, so I think what happened was that he came in at a lower (probably much lower) salary and after winning a couple of times got a new contract. I would personally bet he came in with a 2 fight contract and then renewed since his 3rd fight was against Gonzaga.

    I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if his contract is up for renegotiation after this last fight. It would have made good business sense for the UFC to do it that way, especially if they had a champion’s clause in his last contract. If he had won the belt, he would be stuck with the UFC until they hammered out another salary and with him locked in they would actually have a decent bargaining chip. He couldn’t fight anywhere else due to the clause so they could negotiate a lower salary. I don’t think they’d completely sandbag him, but instead of offering him Lesnar type money they could get away with maybe $100k a fight. If he lost the title fight then they could pretty much offer him whatever they wanted, probably depending on how he did in the fight. If he had a good showing (which he did) they would offer him enough to keep him around and hope for a rematch. If he sucked it up, they could offer him significantly less or even drop him, kinda like they did to Thales Leites.

  • qat says:

    just a bit off topic:
    when i read comments or forums and stuff, its like 50% of the people write lesner and 50% write lesnar.
    is there a special reason for people writing lesner? something disrespectful or stuff? or are so many people just spelling it wrong?
    i really dont know.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    “As many times as it’s been discussed that these payouts don’t represent what fighters actually make I can’t believe we still get headlines and articles like this.”

    you’re right, its probably more like 20 times, at least

  • danw84 says:

    qat some people are just terrible at spelling, even when the word they are misspelling is right on the page they are writing on.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Some ppl just have nothing to add to the actual conversation thread so instead the do spell check and feel better about there lack of input…

    I spelt Lesnar wrong…I guess I should go walk into traffic.

  • danw84 says:

    Are you seriously saying that someone complaining about you spelling “they” as “the” and how you used “there” instead of “their” is the same as spelling the name of the fighter you’re talking about wrong when it’s all over the page?

  • Pajamashark says:

    Fans would have been clamoring for Lesnar’s return after his illness even if he wasn’t fighting such a dangerous opponent like Carwin. Everyone wanted to see Brock back. For Brock to fight again so quickly after a life-threatening illness seemed to be worth a little extra scratch he got since the fans sure were putting their money where there mouth’s were.

    Carwin has a much bigger audience now (being a headliner ) and he showcased his brutal power against Brock. Carwin came thisclose to the belt. Carwin has nothing to be ashamed of from that fight and his “stock” as a fighter rose highly. Now, when his team negotiates with sponsors and the UFC, his managers now have a much stronger position, because Carwain can now be considered “a name” in the UFC.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Dawn84 are you seriously saying that your still paying attention to minor spelling errors instead of talking about the subject content of the article… Sorry if I don’t spell check before posting?! Who gives a shit! Oh wait fucking lame ducks like you with shit else to do. Get a fucking hobbie.

  • danw84 says:

    I’m not criticizing your spelling or grammar. I don’t care. But to spell Lesnar wrong when it’s all over the place right in front of you is just silly.

    qat asked a question. I answered. Nobody bitched but you.

  • Mad_Hatter_XX says:

    All of the fighters who appeared on the PPV portion of the card made decent money. I think sometimes a little perspective is needed. Sure some of the fighters only made 25k for their effort in a loss and we hear about NBA,NFL and MLB stars making millions and millions of dollars and we hear about a fighter only making 25k or Carwin only making 40k and we say” Oh my god! How will they feed their families!” How many more resources do the 4 major sports have? Tv deals, ticket and merchandise sales etc.?

    If these fighters want more money then do something about it. Get better, train harder, beat tougher opponents make a name for yourself. Lesnar got the most money because he is the champ, he is the main attraction and UFC pays him accordingly. I’m sure Carwin will be fine. 40k for this fight and don’t remember what he got from KO’ing MIr in base salary but, he got KO of the night bonus at 75k. Over 100k in the 1st 7 months of the year with the chance to earn at minimum another 40k before end of year. I wish I could be so bad off.

  • danw84 says:

    Yeah because it’s so god damn easy to pull yourself up high enough to make actually decent money in MMA.

    The worst player on the Saints won the Superbowl. How’s the worst fighter at American Kickboxing Academy doing?

  • qat says:

    chill down rece,
    i dont care if you spell some words wrong, everybody does that from time to time and you cant expect everyone to be on the same level when it comes to the English language (which is probably not the first language for many of us)

    it was just as i said, the lesnar/lesner thing is just so often done. you know i read some sherdog threads and other news sites from time to time, and i noticed it before and did not think much of it.
    but after this weekend you can maybe guess how often this fighters name popped up, and how often it was spelled lesner. so i just really wondered if it was some sort of running gag.
    you dont have to feel offended.

    btw. its really a pity that 5oz does not have a forum. compared to other sites it really feels like the level of conversation is light-years ahead around here.

  • LiverPunch says:

    Lesnar gets 400,000 to show and I bet he gets a % too. Carwin got ripped off big time. If he manages a win or 2 before his contract runs out he will be up for a pay rise.
    Strikeforces Fedor vs Werdum salaries.
    Fedor 400,000 + what ever deal was made with M1.
    Werdum 100,000
    Thomson 60,000
    Le 100,000
    Smith 55,000
    …and Carwin gets 40,000 for the biggest HW fight in history?. Don’t try and say “they get paid too much” or “other sports can afford more” because Strikeforce payed Scott smith more to show than Carwin got for “one of the biggest fights in MMA history”.
    Just a side note to all those that said Fedor turned down more money than he is getting from SF, well not according to the reports, he is getting what Lesnar is getting in the UFC so cross that off your Fedor ducked the UFC bullshit list.

  • LiverPunch says:

    Thanks for telling us the UFC is a biz trying to make money Dufresne, I wasn’t aware of that. I just wonder do you think it is fair or is Carwin a victim of his circumstance? Considering he got paid less than Scott smith did for SF?.
    You know he got paid way less than he should of but try and reason why. Yes there is a reason, we know it happened, we know the UFC is looking after it’s own pockets, we know he has a contract but YOU know if he wasn’t signed to that contract they would have to pay him more too. So you really are saying “HE GOT RIPPED but here is why”.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Hey liverpunch I’m not sure what it is that you do for a living but if you had a contract with someone and they fufilled the contracted services you would feel inclined to pay them more than what they contractually agreed to…?

    Besides there was reports that had DW quoted as saying he was cutting more checks then what was reported for fight night bonuses… Meaning more than likely Carwin took home a couple extra bucks… Don’t worry he won’t be homeless this month…

    Liverpunch: Can I ask you something? Carwins a family man, right? Carwins an engineer right? They make good pay right? Probably not too many crazy hours or bullshit at the office right? Probably a real nice gig, right? He had to go to school for a while to get that title, right? Sooooo if fighting was unprofitable, and basically the opposite of all the above why would an educated family man with a full plate continue to take part if it was going to put him or his family at risk financially or in any other manner? Carwins not a dumb man…

  • Dufresne says:

    “YOU know if he wasn’t signed to that contract they would have to pay him more too.”

    That may be the case, but he signed that contract based on his performance BEFORE the title fight. My guess is he signed his current contract just before fighting Gonzaga as before that fight he was fighting lower tier competition and since then he has been fighting upper tier. The UFC didn’t know he would be involved in a title fight by now. They can’t write contracts for every promising looking fighter based on what they could potentially be doing 2 or 3 fights down the line.

    “I just wonder do you think it is fair or is Carwin a victim of his circumstance? Considering he got paid less than Scott smith did for SF?”
    Scott Smith was a known commodity when he was signed to contract. Carwin was a basic unknown before fighting Gonzaga. Yeah he fought and won twice, but if you look at the two guys he fought, they weren’t exactly top guys. One has a record of 8-5 and while the other has a record of 9-2 those two losses were against the only opponents with any real credentials. Could you justify paying a guy big time money based on the fact that he embarrassed two cans?

    Lesnar at least had huge name recognition to help justify his contract. They knew he was going to pull in a ton of new viewers and that signing him was a sure-fire way of making millions. They had no guarantee that Carwin would ever pull in any new fans or even that he would help keep the fans they already had. Now they know he’s worth money, I’m sure he’ll get it.

    Also, I don’t think he got ripped. Sorry, but my point of view is that he was payed appropriately for his services based on previous performances. I can’t fault any corporation for signing an employee based on what they’ve already brought to the table, not on what they could potentially bring.

    I guess we’re going to have to disagree on this one, LP. Nothing personal.

  • Mad_Hatter_XX says:

    I think Dufresne gets it. You sign a contract and you work under the terms of the contract. If you don’t like the contract once it ends then you are free to leave as a free agent or renegotiate for higher pay.

    These fighters are all sponsored my multiple companies which also pay for their gear and pay them to do advertising and promotional appearances so those payments are not disclosed to state athletic commissions because they don’t need to be.

    Anyone saying “well this person who rode the bench all year in this major sport and got alot more money” isn’t getting it. MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL all have multiple decades of fan base and players unions not to mention all sorts of mega money tv deals. It is apples to oranges.

    Who cares if Scott Smith made more than Shane Carwin? Ask Carwin if he would have rather made his 40k and came thisclose to being the UFC champ or would have rather made more money in Strikeforce in a largely irrelevant mid-card bout with 1/20th of the exposure.

    Would we all rather it be like boxing where guys get millions and millions of dollars and there are multiple title holders and promoters who screw the fighters out of a chunk of their purse above and beyond the negotiated fee? See Don King. Have champions the never defend the belt and when they do are only put against hand picked cans?

  • Lethal Liquid says:

    I think Carwin would take the extra cash. He’s 35 after all. Athletically that’s middle age. He needs to be cashing in on big paydays. This is moot point because his next contract will have him in six figures. At least it should if he and his management have any negotiating skills at all. Strikeforce’s mere existence and what they pay their heavyweights will help in that cause

  • Dufresne says:

    “Strikeforce’s mere existence and what they pay their heavyweights will help in that cause”

    One of the reasons I’m really hoping that SF does manage to pull it off. They’ve been struggling lately and have made some confusing decisions (when a guy loses he seems to get a title shot, first Rogers and now there’s a serious rumor about that happening to Fedor), but I really hope that they can stick around for a while longer.

  • gstringwife says:

    all you bitches complaining about spelling “Im going to take the horse shoe out of your ass and beat you over the head with it ” LOLOL

  • danw84 says:

    Wow what a horribly out of context quote that in no way has any relevance to spelling, complaints, or anything else this article might be about.

  • I want to say this, I think that the 40g’s is fine… ok, maybe 80 base at least but the win bonus should have been 200g’s with incentive to win the title defense and so on and so forth. Although . . . ..

    . . .Carwin has stated that this is just extra money for him and he makes good money as a full time Engineer. Lesnar is a straight money draw for the UFC and they just looked very smart with Lesnar using those big big big forearms to block punches and then pulling out the win via sumbission, that guy has soooooo many fans from the WWE days that just got more time on the Brock Wagon.

    The other guys at Strikeforce have literally helped build strikeforce which is why they get more money. Carwin only has a few fights in the spot light and was Barely talked about b4 this fight but will be now and even more so if he dominates his next match or even goes the distance convincingly, I knew about him and I have to see him again and those that just saw him will want to see him again… I Have to know if he fixed the problem. If he does then this is perfect rematch material! It can’t be written any better!

    Let the fights go on because I like to see the Rumble!!!

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