Manny Pacquiao

Boxing vs. MMA High Earners: Lesnar Makes $5.3M, Pacquiao $32M

| by Alex Groberman

In the never-ending battle between the two biggest fighting sports in the world, mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing, the latter may be waning in overall popularity, but it’s still king when it comes to generating big paydays.

According to a new ESPN the Magazine report, the highest paid MMA fighter in 2010 was Brock Lesnar. For his troubles, the professional wrestler turned mixed martial arts heavyweight champion earned $5.3 million. Given the amount of punishment that MMA fighters typically take in a given fight, many were caught off guard at just how small the total earnings are for someone sitting atop the mixed martial arts food chain.

Making it all the more frustrating for MMA fans, no doubt, is the fact that the so-called leader of the boxing world, Manny Pacquiao, earned $32 million last year. Given that he didn't fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- or really any super compelling opponents during this time period -- it’s a bit surprising that he generated over six times the income of the highest paid MMA fighter.

In an effort to justify the “low” pay of their top tier stars, MMA generally points to the fact that they have a lot of fighters who earn over $500,000 per year -- a claim that boxing simply cannot make.

Weigh in on the topic below. Are MMA fighters being especially underpaid? Or maybe even, exploited?

Twitter: @agroberman