A handful of the UFC's biggest stars get six-figure guarantees for all their fights and a cut of the pay-per-view revenue. Those guys are the promotion's highest-paid fighters.
For the majority of UFC fighters, the standard payday is in the five figures, and winning a bonus check for Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night or Submission of the Night can actually make up the majority of their income. And in that category of fighter, no one has cashed in more than Chris Lytle.
Cage Potato has put together a great UFC performance bonus leaderboard, and Lytle comes out on top with seven bonuses that paid him a combined $310,000. No one else even has six career bonuses.
Obviously, being the all-time leader in performance bonuses in no way makes Lytle even close to the best fighter in UFC history. He's been pretty mediocre in his UFC career, has bounced around between the UFC and smaller promotions, and has a record of 7-9 inside the Octagon.
But I still think Lytle has a special place in UFC history. I've heard some people denigrate Lytle by saying he fights like he'd rather earn a bonus than a win, but in fairness to Lytle, only two of those bonuses were for fights he lost: He got the Fight of the Night check at UFC 78, when he lost to Thiago Alves because the fight was stopped when he suffered a nasty cut, and he got it at UFC 93, when he lost a split decision to Marcus Davis. It's not like he wasn't trying to win those fights.
The 35-year-old Lytle is never going to be a UFC champion, and he's never going to be one of those guys with a six-figure guarantee or a cut of the pay-per-view proceeds. But he'll always be a fighter the fans will want to see, and he has certainly earned that $310,000 in extra income.