Ronda Rousey has reportedly made about $6.5 million as a professional fighter through 10 months in 2015. That figure doesn’t quantify what money Rousey’s pocketed from any of her out-of-competition endeavors in her second full year as the UFC’s female champion at 135 pounds.
Whatever the actual number may be, it’s safe to say Rousey has made a relatively impressive sum of money thus far.
And while Miesha Tate may not be comfortable revealing how much she’s made over the past 10 months, she’s willing to admit her earnings aren’t remotely comparable to those of the champion. All that in spite of what she’s done for the women’s division over the years.
Tate said on The MMA Hour Monday:
“I’m going to tell you, I made nowhere near — not even close to that, and yet they want me to fight higher ranked, and much better skilled opponents than Ronda’s fighting. She gets paid millions and I get paid pennies on the dollar.
I understand they have a job to do, they want to promote, they want fights that sell, I get it. But this is also my life and I’m not a robot, I’m not a puppet and I’m not going to stand for something that I don’t feel right about, that I don’t agree with. I will not take fights if my heart’s not into it, period. It doesn’t matter who it is. If I don’t feel good about it, I’m not going to do it. The whole reason I do this sport is because I love it. But when politics get in the way and they start messing s–t up, excuse my language, I’m just not going to stand for it. It’s not why I got into fighting. It’s not why I do what I do.”
You certainly can’t blame Tate for being upset at how the situation has unfolded. She was “promised” a second title shot against Rousey, only to have the rest of the world inform her — far too early in the morning, mind you — that Holly Holm had taken her place. It was unfair treatment from the UFC, she claims. And she’s right — kind of.
Is Tate getting paid pennies on the dollar compared to Rousey? We can’t say for sure but, in all likelihood, yes.
On paper, Rousey earns anywhere from $65,000-70,000 from the UFC and $40,000 from Reebok just to show up, based on her earnings from UFC 184. She’ll get about $125,000 more if she wins (including the standard $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus that she gets for her seconds-long victories). She also gets some fraction of the pay-per-view revenue, and considering how well Rousey’s done from a PPV standpoint, you can begin to understand how fighting — and only fighting — has made her a millionaire.
On her best night, Tate will earn about $80,000 in disclosed earnings, just like she did at UFC 183 in January. Safely assuming she doesn’t earn pay-per-view points, Tate would need to fight about 81 times in order to make what Rousey’s done in two fights.
But is Tate fighting tougher opponents while making less? Sure, but only if you’re OK with cherry-picking isolated examples to make a point.
Tate’s two most recent opponents are — Jessica Eye and Sara McMann — are ranked ninth and and sixth, respectively, in the UFC’s official hierarchy. She’s also “sort of” been asked to face Amanda Nunes, the newest female bantamweight to surface as a potential contender for Rousey’s throne. Nunes is ranked third in the division.
Looking at Rousey’s most recent and currently scheduled opponents, you can see where Tate makes her point. Rousey last faced Bethe Correia, a fighter who “earned” a title shot after defeating three opponents with a combined 1-8 UFC record. Hardly offered a puncher’s chance heading into UFC 189, it was clear Correia talked her way into the bout. Then there’s Holly Holm, who appears a more qualified fighter for Rousey to face, but still lacks the resume to play the role of quality contender. Holm didn’t do any talking to punch her ticket for UFC 193, but “Rousey vs. former boxing champion” has a pretty marketable tune to it.
Neither Correia nor Holm are the caliber of a McMann. They’re arguably not Eye, either. But that’s just the latter half of 2015. Prior to that, Rousey faced the Murderer’s Row of women’s mixed martial arts.
On Feb. 28, Rousey defended her title against then-top-ranked Cat Zingano at UFC 184. Undefeated at the time, Zingano lasted 14 seconds before tapping out.
On July 5, 2014, Rousey defended her title against Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Alexis Davis at UFC 175. Davis lasted 16 seconds before being knocked out. She was ranked third in the promotion’s 135-pound division before taking time off due to a pregnancy.
On Feb. 22, 2014, Rousey defended her title against then-undefeated Olympic wrestler Sara McMann at UFC 170. The silver medalist lasted 66 seconds before collapsing to a knee to her liver. A premature stoppage or not, the top five contender was no match for Rousey.
Finally, on Dec. 28, 2013, Rousey defended her title against longtime rival Tate. Always hovering atop the women’s 135-pound division, Tate went a little over two rounds before she tapped to the same submission that saw Rousey victorious the year before.
So maybe Rousey is fighting lesser opponents right now, but that’s only because the UFC already tried feeding her the elite ones. She’s earned every last dollar she gets, even if they’re paying her by the second these days.