UFC vs Bellator: Everything You Need to Know

The UFC and Bellator are both mainstream Mixed Martial Art promotions that feature some of the best fighters in the world.

In this page, we will explain the differences between the UFC and Bellator.

UFC vs Bellator differences

Who is the UFC President?

The current UFC President is Dana White, who impressively holds this role dating back to 2001.

After WME purchased the UFC in 2016, there was a concern about whether there would be drastic changes, however, White would be kept on as president by the new ownership. 

Dana White is part owner of the UFC and is widely credited for the meteoric rise of not just the UFC, but MMA as a whole.

White is also known for always speaking his mind, whether it's being critical about a fighter's performance, detailing the status of ongoing negotiations with fighters, or being critical of people that he doesn't like, such as Ariel Helwani.

Who is the Bellator President?

Scott Coker is the Bellator president who would found the Strikeforce organization in 1985.

Strikeforce would begin as a Kickboxing organization, but eventually transform into a major Mixed Martial Arts organization.

Strikeforce would eventually be bought out by the UFC in 2011, securing elite talent and future champions including:

  • Daniel Cormier - UFC Champion in Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight
  • Fabricio Werdum - UFC Heavyweight Champion
  • Robbie Lawler - UFC Welterweight Champion
  • Luke Rockhold - UFC Middleweight Champion

After the acquisition, Coker was retained for 3 years by the UFC.

Once his contract expired, Coker became the Bellator president.

UFC's Matchmaking System

The UFC has a 1 fight matchmaking system, where they book one fight at a time for a fighter, and then don't book the fighter for their next fight, until after their fight is completed.

Depending on the result (Win, Loss, No Contest), they will book their next fight accordingly.

Bellator's Matchmaking System

Bellator is a more tournament-oriented promotion, as they are known for holding the 'Bellator Grand Prix'.

Each fighter will start on one side of the bracket for their weight class, and if they win, they can advance to the next fight.

Bellator grand prix Champion

If they lose, they are eliminated.

This continues until two fighters can fight for the championship belt.

Although fighters and promoters don't know exactly who they will face next, they know it will be one of two people.

Roster Name Differences

There were 689 fighters on the UFC roster in 2021, but that number is growing.

Some of the more notable fighters for the UFC include:

  • Conor McGregor
  • Kamaru Usman
  • Israel Adesanya
  • Jon Jones
  • Henry Cejudo (aka Triple C)
  • Charles Oliveira

Bellator's roster number is undisclosed, but it is nowhere near the number that the UFC has.

Some of the more notable fighters for Bellator include:

  • Patricio Pitbull
  • Gegard Mousasi
  • Vadim Nemkov
  • A.J McKee
  • Ryan Bader
  • Corey Anderson
  • Sergio Pettis

Fighter Pay Differences

Bellator pays certain fighters more when they come to fight for Bellator than what they were earning in the UFC.

Some former UFC fighters who've made much more money in Bellator include Gegard Mousasi and Corey Anderson.

However, overall, for all of the fighters in the prelims to those in the main event, the UFC pays their fighters more.

money suitcase

Former UFC Fighters Who Went to Bellator

Some of the more notable former UFC fighters who were able to earn more in Bellator than they did in the UFC include Gegard Mousasi, Corey Anderson, and Sergio Pettis.

Preliminary Fighter Pay in Bellator vs UFC

The most noticeable difference in fighter pays occurs in the lower portion of the card, more specifically the preliminary card.

In Bellator's most recent event (Bellator 275), Lee Hammond and Jamie Hay both had a $2k base salary (to show) and a $2k win bonus.

Hammond would win the fight and earn $4k, while Hay would lose the fight and earn $2k.

Lee Hammond $2k $2k $4k
Jamie Hay $2k N/A $2k


On the other hand, for UFC's most recent event (UFC 275), the lowest fighters on the card have a $12k to show, and $12k to win contract.

Liang Na $12k N/A $4k N/A $16k
Silvana Gómez Juárez $12k $12k $4k $50k $78k


Gomez Juarez would win the fight through a devastating knockout, and collect a bonus of the night as well, earning a total of $78,000.

Drug Testing Programs

UFC Drug Testing

The UFC partnered with USADA, the U.S Anti-Doping Agency. USADA is the national anti-doping organization in the United States for Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, and Parapan American sports.


Famously, Jeff Novitzky (USADA) was the person who would bust Lance Armstrong for doping.

USADA is a much stricter drug testing organization and has been credited with cleaning up the sport.

Athletes can be tested 365 days a year, without advance notice. Athletes are also required to inform USADA of their daily regular schedule and must report any changes.

They use an app that has to be maintained accurately all year, and if it is not, athletes can be subject to fines and/or suspensions.

Bellator Drug Testing

Bellator does drug tests, however, it is done by the athletic commission. The athletic commission varies by which state the fight is taking place in.

If the fight is taking place in Nevada, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) will issue drug tests.

drug test

There isn't a separate organization that actively tracks each fighter's whereabouts throughout the year, to randomly drug test them. In short, they do drug tests, but it's nowhere near as strict as other organizations.

They use the same drug testing system that the UFC used to do before 2015.

This same drug testing system was the one that busted Jon Jones for having used cocaine.

Fight Round Differences

The UFC does a 5-round, 5-minute main event, regardless of if there's a belt on the line.

This wasn't always the case as in 2011, Dana White implemented the policy that all main events will be 5-round fights from that moment on.

Before this, main events were only 3 rounds, if it wasn't for a title.

Bellator has yet to adopt this policy and maintains the traditional 3 round 5 minutes for non-title bouts.

Weight Class Differences

UFC Weight Classes

  • 4 Women Weight Classes
  • 8 Men Weight Classes

Bellator Weight Classes

  • 2 Women Weight Classes
  • 7 Men Weight Classes

Where You Can Watch Each Promotion

UFC's non-Pay Per view events can be watched on ESPN, while Bellator's non-Pay Per view events can be watched on Showtime.

Glove Differences

One aspect that you'll immediately notice when watching Bellator for the first time, is that each fighter has a different color of gloves (red vs blue).

While in the UFC, the color of the fighter's corner can be seen by the wrap color below the glove.

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