Forbes is back with their annual list of the 100 highest paid athletes in the world for 2016. Cracking into the list for the first time at No. 85? None other than Irish UFC superstar Conor McGregor. Based on estimates by Forbes, McGregor made $18 million from his fight purses and another $4 million from endorsements.
Conor McGregor is not only the sole UFC fighter on the list this year, he’s actually the only UFC fighter to ever make it into the top 100. Ronda Rousey is No. 3 on the separate World’s Highest Paid Female Athletes list with $10 million in purses and $4 million in endorsements, but that’s well under the $20.6 million the guy in the #100 spot (San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey) makes.
The list tracks money made over the last 12 months, so Ronda’s figure includes her fights with Bethe Correia in Brazil and Holly Holm in Australia. McGregor has been more active, having fought three times in the past 12 months against Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, and Nate Diaz.
A couple of other combat sports athletes made it onto the Forbes Highest Paid Athletes list. Floyd Mayweather is all the way up at the No. 16 spot, having made $32 million off his fight with Andre Berto and $12 million in endorsements. Manny Pacquiao is further down the list at No. 63, although his endorsements tumbled from $12 million to $2.5 million after his notorious anti-gay comments. Fortunately for him, he still made over $20 million off his third (and final?) bout against Timothy Bradley. Canelo Alvarez rounds out the boxers on the Forbes list at No. 92, with nearly all his money coming from the $20 million he made fighting Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan.
According to Forbes, the Cotto and Khan fights sold a total of 1.5 million pay-per-view buys. That’s less than the number of buys Conor McGregor pulled for his fight with Nate Diaz. In fact, there’s a number of fighters on the UFC’s roster who could truthfully argue they’ve generated more buys than Canelo has, yet they’re not making anything close to Canelo’s pay-per-view cut. As the UFC makes more and more money, you have to wonder how much longer they can continue with barely any of their athletes being represented on lists like this.