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Editorial: Here’s why UFC should scrap fight night bonuses in 2022

The money the UFC spends on fight night bonuses could be used in a more beneficial manner

UFC president Dana White
UFC president Dana White
Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If the UFC is looking to make the lives of its fighters a little easier while leaving the budget intact, one thing the promotion could do in 2022 is scrap the arbitrary fight night bonus system.

The biggest reason to toss the current bonus system in the rubbish bin is that it is arbitrary. No one knows the requirements for a bonus other than the effort must please the monarchs who decide the lucky recipients of the UFC’s largesse. I’m not saying the process can be influenced by personal preference or individual feelings, but without set and specific guidelines, the process is faulty — at best.

As an example, what made the three-round fight between unranked strawweights Cheyanne Buys and Mallory Martin more deserving of the “Fight of the Night” award at UFC Vegas 44 than the five-round main event battle between Rob Font and Jose Aldo, who were ranked in the top-five in the bantamweight division heading into the event?

Anyway, that’s a discussion for another day, unless the UFC dumps the entire fight night bonus system in 2022.

In the simplest way possible, here is how easy it would be to do away with the bonus system, while rewarding every fighter on the UFC roster at the same time.

Working with the assumption that the UFC will stage 42 events in 2022, and that each event will have a budget for $200,000 in fight night bonus awards - $50,000 x 2 for “Performance of the Night” and $50,000 for each fighter in the “Fight of the Night” — that equals $8.4 million.

Now let’s say the UFC finishes 2022 with 600 fighters on the roster. All the promotion would need to do is divide that $8.4 million between the 600 fighters and cut each fighter a check for $14,000 at the end of the year.

That’s $14,000 every UFC fighter would have to start 2023. That’s $14,000 that could make the difference between being a part-time fighter and a full-time fighter. That’s $14,000 that could go toward training or nutrition or health insurance (which the UFC does not provide its fighters) or whatever.

This would cost the UFC nothing extra. In fact it would benefit the promotion because the UFC would have that money on hand and, at the very least, earning interest throughout the year. I would suggest the money go into escrow on January 1 and that any interest accrued be added to the total at the end of the year for disbursement to the fighters, but, baby steps.

I understand some fighters might not have a full year of tenure at the end of 2022, and there are other ways to make the payouts better, but this proposal is more fair and beneficial than the arbitrary and capricious manner that the $8.4 million is doled out right now.