How Much Do UFC Refs Get Paid?

How Much Do UFC Refs Get Paid?


Mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the most popular sports in the world, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is undoubtedly the biggest name in MMA. While fans and fighters alike focus on the athletes who step into the Octagon, there’s another group of individuals who play a crucial role in ensuring each fight runs smoothly – referees.

Referees are responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations of MMA fights, ensuring fighters’ safety, and making split-second decisions that can impact the outcome of a fight. With such an essential role to play, it’s understandable that many people wonder how much these officials get paid. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at UFC referee pay rates to answer this question comprehensively.

Factors Affecting Referee Pay in the UFC

Several factors determine how much a referee gets paid in the UFC. The first significant factor is experience and tenure as a referee. As with many jobs, those with more experience tend to earn higher salaries than their less-experienced colleagues.

Another critical factor affecting UFC referee pay is whether they are officiating a main event or co-main event fight on a pay-per-view (PPV) card. Referees assigned to high-profile fights typically earn more than those overseeing preliminary bouts or non-PPV events.

Additionally, other factors like travel expenses and accommodation also contribute to determining how much referees make per fight. However, exact figures for these payments are not publicly disclosed by UFC management.

Average Pay of UFC Referees

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Average Pay of UFC Referees

While the exact payment rates for referees are not publicly disclosed, it is widely understood that officials working for the UFC earn a flat fee per fight. According to reports, the average pay rate for a referee in the organization ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 per event. This pay rate includes all expenses related to travel and accommodation.

It’s important to note that these figures represent only an estimate of referee salaries in the UFC. Many factors can influence individual pay rates, including experience and tenure as a referee and the significance or prestige of an event. However, it’s clear that UFC referees typically earn more than their counterparts in smaller MMA organizations.

Top-Paid UFC Referees

Some referees earn significantly more than others within the organization. One such official is Herb Dean, who is widely regarded as one of the best referees in MMA history. Dean has officiated some of the most significant fights in UFC history and consequently commands higher pay rates.

Other top earners include veteran referees like John McCarthy and Marc Goddard, who have been with the organization since its early days. These officials’ longevity and wealth of experience make them highly sought after by fighters and promoters alike.

Factors contributing to higher pay among top-paid referees include their experience level, reputation within the industry, willingness to take on high-profile fights regardless of location or time zone differences.

Comparison with Other MMA Organizations

While it’s challenging to compare exactly how much UFC referees get paid compared to other organizations due to limited public information available on referee salaries elsewhere in MMA world; however based on reports from various sources suggest that UFC refs are generally paid higher than those outside of the promotion.

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For instance, Bellator MMA pays its officials between $1,000 and $1,200 per event while One Championship pays between $800-$2,000 per card depending on experience level.

Overall it appears that UFC referees are among the highest-paid officials in MMA, though exact comparisons can be challenging to make.

Controversies Surrounding UFC Referee Pay

Despite the critical role referees play in ensuring fighter safety and a fair competition, their pay rates have been a subject of controversy within the MMA community. Many fighters and fans alike argue that referees are not compensated adequately for the level of skill required to do their job effectively.

Some argue that due to the UFC’s massive revenue growth over the years, it’s unfair for referees to earn low salaries while top executives and athletes make millions of dollars. Others argue that higher referee pay would attract more experienced officials into the sport, thus improving overall fight quality.

Response from UFC Management

The UFC has responded to concerns about referee pay by stating that they are continuously reviewing and adjusting compensation packages based on a variety of factors, including experience levels and event type. However, exact details regarding these adjustments have not been publicly disclosed.

Furthermore, some critics claim that the UFC has too much control over referee selection and pay rates. They allege that this can lead to biased officiating or even conflicts of interest. The promotion has denied these allegations, citing their commitment to promoting fair competition and transparency in all aspects of the sport.

Future Outlook on Referee Pay in the UFC

With MMA continuing to grow in popularity worldwide, many expect referee pay rates within the UFC to increase in line with this growth. As more money pours into promotions like the UFC, it’s reasonable to assume that officials will be compensated more generously for their crucial role in regulating fights.

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Additionally, as younger generations become interested in pursuing careers as MMA referees, there may be an increased focus on building sustainable career paths with competitive salaries. With greater financial stability comes a more motivated workforce focused on delivering high-quality performances consistently.

In conclusion, while there may be criticisms levied against current referee payment structures within the UFC; those looking at trends across other professional sports can feel optimistic about future prospects for these important officials within mixed martial arts.


In conclusion, UFC referees play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and fairness of the sport’s fights. The amount of money they earn per fight reflects their importance in the MMA ecosystem. However, while some top-tier UFC referees can make a considerable amount of money, many others earn relatively modest salaries.

The average pay for UFC referees ranges from $1,500 to $3,500 per event. This is lower than what referees in other professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA make. Some have criticized this low pay scale, arguing that it doesn’t reflect the significant responsibilities that come with being a referee.

Despite these criticisms, UFC management has defended its payment structure for referees. They argue that it’s fair and reasonable given the current state of the industry. Nonetheless, there have been recent discussions about revising this payment structure to better reward referees for their contributions to the sport.

As MMA continues to grow in popularity and generate more revenue globally, we can expect changes in referee pay scales as well. Ultimately, it’s up to both UFC management and individual referees themselves to find common ground on how much they should be paid for their essential work overseeing MMA fights.

Disclaimer: All figures mentioned in this article are based on publicly available information at the time of writing and are subject to change over time.

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