The current issue of The Atlantic has a profile on UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, which you can read here. The article details Jackson's activities in the runup to his July 2008 fight with Forrest Griffin, and his subsequent July 15th arrest after an evening of vehicular mayhem. One of the issues mentioned in the article is that of money, with UFC frontman Dana White stating that something like half of the UFC's stable of fighters make 100 grand or more a year. Of course this also means that the other half don't make that kind of money. This made me curious, so I decided to look for UFC salary information online. Although there is some dispute how much certain fighters get paid the range of salaries is interesting, and rather disturbing on the low end. At the bottom you have fighters who are making 3 thousand dollars for fighting on a UFC undercard, while at the top end you have someone like Chuck Liddell who has made as much as 500 thousand dollars in base salary for his fights. Given the money involved in things like gym time and so on some of the lower end salaries probably barely cover expenses, if at all. But some say even someone like Liddell may be being short changed given how much revenue UFC pay per view events draw in. Still, such salaries do explain some of the luxuries Liddell was shown with in a profile I saw a while back, like several expensive vehicles.
As with some of the boxers I see on TV I really have to wonder why some of the older UFC fighters keep at it. They must realise by now they're never going to make it to the pay level of a Liddell or Canadian fighter Georges St. Pierre, who is making in the 100 grand plus range these days. Do they really want to fight for chicken feed when there's always the risk of a permanent injury? Because of the variety of styles and tactics involved there's probably a lower chance of the kind of debilitating brain injuries that can result from boxing, but having wrecked knees or a damaged shoulder isn't great either.
As for Jackson hopefully he's handled his money well. If he is convicted for what happened in July he could spend up to 3 years in jail, and I can't help but wonder if he might not have trouble getting back into the UFC with a criminal record.