When Dana White recently announced that fighter bonuses may be removed to free up more funds for entry level fighters I didn’t know whether to applaud or condemn the idea.
There is always a lot of satisfaction in seeing guys being awarded these bonuses for amazing performances, but at the same time there can also be disappointment in the change rooms for fighters that believed their performance, submission or KO was more deserving of the award.
To remove these discretionary bonuses after being engrained in UFC culture for so long would be like adjusting to Dana White wearing a new hair piece. I’ve come to love watching the fights and debating with drunken bar patrons who deserves the KO, Submission and FOTN bonus.
If three discretionary bonuses of $50,000 each are awarded at every event then this would free up $200,000 including the double pay out for FOTN. At UFC 162 there are 22 fighters competing. Ten of those fighters are on the main card, twelve fighters are on the prelims. If the bonuses were allocated to the twelve preliminary fighters outside the main card, each fighter could potentially receive an additional $16,500 on top of their existing fight purse.
Would a fighter prefer a guaranteed $16,500 increase in every fight or prefer competing with 21 other fighters over 3 bonuses. This is an interesting proposition the UFC and fighters will have to negotiate their way through.
There are only 28 fighters within the UFC that have secured five or more bonuses during their career. Rampage Jackson, BJ Penn, Josh Koscheck, & Kenny Florian have all received 5 bonuses each during their career. The most bonuses however were awarded to Joe Lauzon and Anderson Silva who have both received 12 bonuses during their career. Sadly the majority of fighters will never receive these bonuses.
If the bonus system is removed (assuming this is only option on the table) then the majority of fighters will be a lot better off financially in the long run. A fighter being paid an additional $16,500 each fight would receive $49,500 extra per year if they fought three times.
I question whether the majority of fighter bonuses awarded to guys like Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and others would be better served supporting the upcoming fighters considering they are receiving millions to fight through PPV. Why provide a $50,000 bonus to a guy that is already receiving millions in PPV revenue?
Whether the UFC remove the bonus system or not remains to be seen. I am often at odds with the assertion that the UFC built this sport, because it undermines and provides little credit to the professional athletes that compete and train for so many years. Without the athletes, $2 billion dollars worth of wealth would not be sitting in Dana White’s and the Fertita’s bank account. Lets hope they get it right and give the athletes what they deserve otherwise Dana White may end up being remembered as the Don King of MMA.