Conor McGregor, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lewis Hamilton: top 10 highest-paid sportsmen – in pictures

Forbes releases list of the biggest-earning stars, on and off the field

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Conor McGregor has been named the highest-paid athlete by Forbes for the past year, pipping Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to top spot.

The mixed martial arts star, currently training in Dubai for his return to the octagon at UFC 264 in July, was estimated to have banked $180 million in earnings, most of which was generated outside his sport – a remarkable feat considering the global pandemic.

According to Forbes, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer are the only other athletes to make more than $70m in a single year in “off the field” earnings.

McGregor’s endorsements are reported to have been worth $158m during the past year, with his one appearance in the UFC – January’s defeat to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi – believed to have made up the other $22m in his annual earnings.

It marks the first time McGregor has registered at No 1 in Forbes’ rankings, and only the second time the former two-division champion has featured at all. In 2018, the Irishman came in at 4th.

McGregor, 32, faces Poirier in their trilogy bout on July 10, which is to take place at a sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Forbes says "on the field" earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between May 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021. Meanwhile, "off the field" earnings figures are said to be an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income for that same period, plus cash returns from any businesses operated by the athlete. Based on conversations with industry insiders, the list comprises athletes active during that allotted timeframe.