On Saturday, we got a card loaded with finishes, but more than that, it's hard to find an event that had a more clear Knockout of the Night, Submission of the Night, and Fight of the Night than Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman.
If you watched OSP's savage one-punch knockout of TJ Cook, which was so violent that Cook is being checked out for a neck fracture from the back of his head slamming to the mat, you know what I mean. Were that knockout on a UFC card, you'd instantly know that OSP was getting that bonus cheque. Case closed. Doesn't even matter what occurs on the rest of the card.
Then you've got Ronda Rousey's armbar of Sarah Kaufman in 51 seconds. I'd say it's the most talked about finish of any fight this month and it extends Rousey's miracle run of arm collection. As far as submissions go, it's been major water cooler fodder. A clear submission of the night, right?
But probably the most criminally deprived are Miesha Tate and Julie Kedzie. The UFC's performance bonuses are BUILT for situations like this. We've got two fighters who are inexplicably relegated to the prelims by the broadcaster. They, nonetheless, go to absolute freaking war in a back and forth contest that tests the limits of all aspects of their respective MMA games, giving dynamic performances in every part of mixed martial arts in what is a clear fight of the year contender.
Fight of the Night bonuses are often best served to fighters who lay it all on the line on a prelim fight like this. Morever, Julie Kedzie got paid $5,000 for that fight. $5,000 for a ridiculous firefight and a fight of the year candidate. She got paid $5,000 for giving one of the best fighters in the division a real run for her money. It was a fight where no one gave Kedzie a shot in hell, with injuries keeping her on the shelf for a year and her career sliding to journeyman status. Instead, she gives the performance of her career and comes within a hair of beating one of the best female fighters on the planet in an absolute thriller. And she gets $5,000. Again, unjust situations like this are what performance bonuses are meant for.
In Strikeforce, you've got a bunch of fighters who are going out there and desperately seeking a finish and putting on great fights with explosive knockouts or submissions as a result. They should be rewarded for these efforts and given that their employers have deep pockets, it's inexplicable why they aren't. The only reasons we've gotten are Scott Coker giving ambiguous and meaningless statements about how Strikeforce has a "different business model" (what, an unjust one?) and Dana throwing his hands up in the air and saying he has nothing to do with Strikeforce since his little tiff with Showtime over managing the shows (so...the fighters get punished?).
Unless you were Jacare, if you were a fighter on Saturday's event, you were probably underpaid as it relates to your position in a promotion run by folks with very deep pockets. Granted, it may be a Jeremy Lin type situation, but you had a main eventer who guested on Conan and got on the cover of ESPN making $40,000 including her win bonus, while her challenger made $17,000. Strikeforce is owned and run by big-time people, many of whom want us to believe that Strikeforce is a big-time promotion, but the pay doesn't reflect that and the refusal to issue performance bonuses like the real big-time promotion, the UFC, does only shows a complete lack of interest in correcting the inequity.
WEC fighters were also underpaid, but when ZUFFA took over, they got bonuses because they deserved them, in an effort to at least somewhat address the issue. Strikeforce fighters should be no different