This isn't a rhetorical question--I'm sure there are multiple reasons that I've overlooked.
Reasons not to sign long-term contracts:
- You are locked into a set per-fight pay (18k/18k in Erik's case). If your value goes up over the course of the contract, you'll be underpaid unless the UFC agrees to renegotiate--but Erik would have little leverage to demand a renegotiated deal.
- If, like Erik, you sign a 6-fight deal as a prospect, and by your 4th or 5th fight you are fighting for the title (quite possible for Erik), your contract will likely not include PPV dollars.
- If your value goes down and the UFC deems you overpaid, you will be cut before your contract ends (see: Fitch, Jon).
- With short-term deals, as your value rises you'd be able to seek competing offers from Bellator, WSOF, etc. For a mid-tier UFC fighter, signing with one of these organizations could be a viable option; or the possibility of this could get you a more lucrative deal from the UFC.
- Hence, there's almost no chance that you will ever be significantly overpaid during the course of your contract. And it's very possible that you will be considerably underpaid by the last few fights in your contract.
- Year-round health insurance (until you're cut). That is, if you only ever sign short-term fight contracts, you would lose health insurance while you're negotiating a new deal.
Yes, I realize there's anecdotal evidence that underpaid fighters sometimes get paid more behind the scenes (e.g., Ian McCall). But this likely isn't universal, and you're at the mercy of the UFC.
Thoughts? What am I overlooking? If I'm an emerging UFC prospect like Erik, why should I ever sign anything longer than a 2-fight deal?