In late 2020, former three-time Bellator champion Chandler signed with the UFC. Ahead of his debut last January, it’s safe to say that not many would have predicted the four-fight Octagon tenure he’s had to date.
So far, he’s recorded a first-round debut knockout, challenged for the 155-pound title, played his part in 2021’s Fight of the Year, and delivered one of the all-time great KOs.
With those achievements, as well as the fact he’s competed on four pay-per-view main cards, including a championship main event and in the co-featured slot at a Conor McGregor-headlined event, you’d perhaps feel confident in saying that “Iron” Mike has increased his fight earnings in the UFC.
Well, apparently not.
During a recent appearance on the How U Livin J Piven podcast, Chandler was asked how his fight purses in MMA’s premier promotion compare to his take-home earnings in Bellator, where he competed from 2010 to 2020.
The 36-year-old started off by noting that he doesn’t receive more lucrative purses despite now fighting inside the Octagon.
“You know what it is? I make more money, (but) I don’t necessarily make more money on paper or in my fights,” said Chandler.
However, that doesn’t mean that Chandler hasn’t been able to improve his income thanks to his UFC association.
Chandler: UFC Gives Me The Opportunity To Earn More
While his UFC checks may not exceed those he received from the Scott Coker-led promotion, Chandler went on to suggest that he’s been able to raise his earnings considerably outside of the cage, something he didn’t have the opportunity to do with the lesser coverage of Bellator.
To do so, Chandler said that maintaining a positive and entertaining reputation throughout his career meant that when he did arrive on MMA’s biggest stage, he was allowed to make an immediate and notable impact.
“What I’ve been able to do is — once again, going back to my reputation, I have been a smaller name, I may have been a guy who was overlooked, I may have been a guy who (people) said, ‘Well, he’s not that legitimate ’cause he fights in Bellator,’ but one thing I always did, was I kept a really good reputation,” noted Chandler. “I kept my nose clean, I stayed out of the negative headlines, I was always in the positive headlines, and then my fights spoke for themselves. I was an entertainer.”
With that in mind, the Missouri native has been able to utilize his placement on prominent UFC cards to expand his business relations and partnerships outside of the Octagon.
“It all kinda just built this long-standing résumé for when I did come over to the UFC to be the co-main event on Conor (McGregor) vs. (Dustin) Poirier—almost two million pay-per-view buys, and then I was the main event for a world title fight, and then I was on another huge pay-per-view,” said Chandler.
“The amount of eyeballs that I’ve been given and afforded by the UFC coincided with this great reputation of being a hard worker, being a man of integrity, being a hard-nosed fighter, being a fighter, a father, a husband,” Chandler continued. “It just meshed perfectly, and I’ve been able to make a lot of money outside the cage and have some great relationships with some great companies and some great people.”
Given his latest performance, a brutal front-kick knockout of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274, it stands to reason that Chandler will have gotten the attention of a few more companies and organizations.
Are you surprised that Michael Chandler’s UFC fight purses aren’t more lucrative than those he received in Bellator?