Chael Sonnen reveals jaw-dropping largest career fight purse: “The numbers are bigger than people think they are”

By Josh Evanoff - March 7, 2023

According to Chael Sonnen himself, ‘The Bad Guy’ made a lot of money fighting Anderson Silva.

The two middleweights clashed in the main event of UFC 117 in August 2010. Despite ‘The Spider’ being a massive favorite to defend his middleweight title, Sonnen came out firing and kept up the pressure. The wrestler dominated the first four rounds, and the champion needed a hail-mary finish.

As the story goes, the Brazilian got exactly that as he locked up a triangle choke to retain his title. While Sonnen came up short, it was the toughest fight of Silva’s title reign to that point. With that in mind, fans were excited to see the two middleweights run it back two years later.

In the rematch in July 2012 at UFC 148, Chael Sonnen again came up short. While he had early success, he wound up being stopped in the second round by strikes after a failed spinning-back fist attempt. That being said, while ‘The American Gangster’ came up short, he apparently made out very well financially.

During an appearance on Andrew Schulz’s Flagrant podcast, Sonnen stated he was paid $8.8 million dollars for his rematch with Silva. The numbers are jaw-dropping, and a massive contrast to the reported payout of $50,000 that was reported at the time.

However, the claim has already been disputed. The highest-paid fighter according to UFC court documents relating to their antitrust lawsuit showed that Silva was the highest-paid fighter in 2012. The Brazilian reportedly earned $4.9 million for two fights that year.

“The most I made was 8.8 [million] in one night. I made 8.8 the second time I fought Anderson,” Chael Sonnen stated during the interview. “…This was in 2012, and I will tell you, the numbers are bigger than people think they are. I’ve always wondered what [Anderson] got, he had to get more. He had to, he had to.”

He continued, “I heard rumors he was 3.2 million or 3.1 million and I’ve tried to confirm that. But then he told me a number that he thought we did on pay-per-view and it wasn’t the number we did on pay-per-views. So I don’t know how this whole thing sat, there was just a time I stopped [searching].”

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