How much do UFC referees get paid?

Referees in the sport of MMA have a responsibility to ensure the safety of fighters in the heat of battle. The quick decision-making skills required of a combat sports referee should be compensated appropriately. But how much do referees get paid at the highest level of MMA? The AllStar examines the pay structure to find out how much UFC referees make.

Who pays UFC referees?

Some once thought that the UFC paid the referees but fortunately, that’s not the case. Mixed Martial Arts is a legal and regulated sport in many parts of the world, and in the United States, MMA referees are paid by state athletic commissions.

State athletic commissions pay MMA referees on a per-fight basis. The amount a referee is paid per fight is dictated by the placement of the bout on a given fight card. Officiating main event or high profile main card fights pays substantially more than refereeing the prelims.

Let’s take the California State Athletic Commission for example:

What’s the minimum pay for UFC referees?

Enrty level MMA referees can expect to make a minimum of $250 per fight. Bigger commissions like California State Athletic Commission pay MMA referees at least $350 USD per fight.

How much do UFC referees make for title fights?

An MMA referee’s pay can vary greatly. Depending on state laws, UFC referees can make between $700-$7000 to officiate a UFC title fight. In California, the pay scale is fixed regardless of how high profile the main event fight might be, so MMA referees make a fixed $1,900 for officiating a title fight.

For example, referee Herb Dean made $1,900 to officiate the massive UFC 264 main event between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.

How much do UFC referees make a year?

MMA referees on average can make from $14,000 at the entry-level, up to $380,000 as a professional referee. Some senior MMA referees who are booked to cover high-profile UFC fights throughout the year can even make over $500,000.

Do referees need to know how to fight?

No, but MMA referees having combat sports experience can only be a good thing. Referees that train will have a better understanding of the danger MMA athletes are in. The better an MMA referees knowledge of striking and grappling, the better they can assess the damaging and positional situations to make better stoppages and stand-ups. Some of the more famous UFC referees like Herb Dean have even had professional MMA fights.

List of UFC referees

  • Herb Dean
  • Marc Goddard
  • Mike Beltran
  • Dan Miragliotta
  • John McCarthy
  • Jason Herzog
  • Mark Smith
  • Chris Tognoni
  • Dan Miragliotta

Michael is a lifelong fight fan and martial artist. He has been in the MMA world for over a decade as an athlete and analyst. A consummate student of the game, Michael lives and breathes fight sports.