I started this article as a top 10 list for why the UFC screwed up in releasing Torres. It looked something like this:
1. What the hell else are you going to do with Urijah Faber?
2. Keep him away from Bellator.
3. Pretty good as an analyst and is the only FW or BW to really succeed in that avenue so could be a good ambassador for the lighter weight classes.
4. Valuable gatekeeper - see what he did for Michael McDonald and, arguably, Demetrious Johnson's careers.
5. Inconsistency - fire Torres for one loss and overall 2-2 record, but keep guys like Dan Hardy?
So yeah, I got stuck at number 6. Torres is paid roughly $30,000 to show up with the possibility of another $30,000 as a win bonus. Given that Torres is a top 10 ranked fighter, I figured this was a pretty good deal. I mean, Ben Rothwell got paid $52,000 to show with another $52,000 win bonus in his very last fight. Ben Rothwell! Given Torres value in his division, his being one of the few recognizable names in a developing division, and his top ten status, surely $30,000/$30,000 is a good deal?
But...here's the thing...apparently Torres ISN'T cheap. I was pretty surprised when I went over the disclosed payrolls for Torres' last three fights. Shockingly, Urijah Faber is getting paid roughly the same amount, at $32,000/$32,000.
Just look at these numbers (all from the respective fighters' last fight):
Mark Hominick: $17,000
Joseph Benavidez: $21,500/$21,500
Brian Bowles: $19,000
Michael McDonald: $8,000/$8,000
Demetrious Johnson: $20,000/$20,000
Eddie Wineland: $10,000/$10,000
Scott Jorgensen: $20,500
Renan Barao: $11,000/$11,000
Dominick Cruz: $20,000/$20,000
That's right, Torres is the second-highest paid man in the UFC's bantamweight division, second only to Urijah Faber, and not by much. This would explain why the UFC were so ready to cut him.
But here's the thing, is $30,000/$30,000 more than Torres is worth? I'd instead argue that it's more that the pay I listed above is RIDICULOUSLY low more than anything else.
And this is why Torres cut, if it was influenced by his comparatively high pay, as I suspect, is so disturbing. It shows that the UFC is intent on KEEPING the level of pay for bantamweights just as it is - criminally low. It shows that according to the UFC's business model, $30,000/$30,000 for a top ten bantamweight is too hefty a burden, while $20,000/$20,000 for the champion of the division, $30,000/$30,000 for the biggest name in the division, and $11,000/$11,000 for the interim champ is just fine.
If Torres was cut because of his comparatively high pay, it means that the UFC, for the indefinite future, wants to keep $30,000/$30,000 reserved for the absolute upper echelon of the bantamweight division, more even than its champion can garner.
Meanwhile, Roy Nelson made the exact same amount as the BW champion for his fight with Dave Herman.
Or how about this: Ben Rothwell is paid as much as Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber COMBINED.
No wonder $30,000/$30,000 is too much to pay a guy like Torres. He's only a bantamweight, after all. On the other hand, paying Bigfoot Silva, a guy only hardcores would truly know about, $70,000 to get destroyed in his UFC debut? That's do-able.