Demetrious Johnson reveals how much money he made from EA UFC games

Demetrious Johnson didn't make a ton of money from EA UFC games, but he's happy with what he got.

It seems like a perennial topic of conversation in the MMA world is the topic of fighter salaries in the UFC. But while this conversation is largely focused on fighters' appearance money, win money, bonuses and viewership points, there are other cases that don't immediately come to mind, such as likeness rights. And while the UFC is primarily a fight promotion, the company also has a long-standing licensing agreement with EA Games to produce the UFC video game series. So how does this work for fighters?

Well, Johnson recently chronicled it all on his YouTube channel.

“One day I'm at home playing video games and I get an email saying, 'Hey, since your image is often used in video games, we're sending you a check,'” Johnson. said. “The very first check I received for playing in a UFC video game was $25,000. A lot of you guys are asking, “And that was it?” Guys, think about this: $25,000 for just playing a video game. I don't think Ryu (or) Ken ever received a check for $25,000. (That's) $25,000 for not getting punched in the face, $25,000 for just playing a video game because you like using me as a character. So I was delighted.

“How do they determine how much money they will pay you? I can't dictate it. You guys actually determine how much I get paid based on how often you guys use me in the game. When you enter a game, say playing offline or online, each character you select makes a small tick and sends data to the mainframe. This is how they monitor it. … They do this for all games because they want to see which characters are played the most and which game modes you enjoy the most. They always track your data and save all analytics.

“I think that's fair. It is based on your popularity in the game. So if everyone and their mom keeps pranking me, I'll get a bigger check.”

Johnson is widely considered one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, so it's no surprise that fans choose him as a character. In fact, Johnson was so popular that he also appeared as the cover athlete for EA's UFC 3 special edition, which Mighty Mouse explained earned him a little extra money.

“So let's fast forward: UFC 3 was next, and for that bad boy, the next check I got was $12,500,” Johnson said. “Now, it’s a little lower, but I was fine with that because the audit dates were getting closer every year or quarter. It didn't bother me too much because, again, free money just comes to me.

“Now, after I did something, after the fight with Ray Borg, they offered me the opportunity to be on the cover. That's when they released the Icon Edition with me on the front. … So, to be on the cover, I signed a deal to be on the cover, and after signing, I got a whopping $10,000 to $10,000 for the cover spot, which is pretty cool. I love every bit of it.”

There are currently five iterations of EA Sports UFC games, with the latest being released last October. Johnson competed in all but the first of them, even after leaving the promotion in 2018. Johnson said he has yet to receive a check for the latest edition, but for the three versions of the game he contributed to, including his time. As its cover athlete, Mighty Mouse reported his total payout to be just under $75,000.

“Let’s fast forward: UFC 4 is coming out,” Johnson said. “I'm leaving the UFC, I'm no longer part of the company, but my character is still in the game and you guys are playing my character. The next check I receive in the mail is for another whopping $25,000. For being in the game! And that's just awesome because to me that's where your image is used and I think it's cool that the UFC or EA continue to pay athletes for their likeness and that people use me.

“Now, after all this, from my first time playing the game in 2014 until 2024, my total earnings are a whopping $72,500. I think it's amazing for me to make that kind of money without getting punched in the face.

“I have not yet received a check for UFC 5, which I am participating in. …Obviously, when you guys use me as a character and my popularity is still good, I'll also get another check from EA, Zuffa, or whoever the hell runs the UFC now. So I think that's pretty cool.”

Likeness rights in sports video games can vary widely. For example, the NFL Players Association struck a deal with Madden franchise, which reportedly paid players $500 million for a five-year extension, while NBA 2K The deal was reportedly worth $1.1 billion over seven years. Vice versa, EA Sports College Football 25 It is reported that athletes participating in the game will only be offered $600 and a copy of the game.

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