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Four reasons why it’s time for UFC to officially switch to ‘stoppage’ bonuses

Everyone wins if the UFC rolls out $50,000 per stoppage bonus

Adrian Yanez received a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his knockout of Tony Kelley at UFC Austin
Adrian Yanez received a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his knockout of Tony Kelley at UFC Austin
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

If, like me, you pay attention to the fight-night bonuses the UFC distributes after each fight card, you’ll know that for the past two events, the promotion has awarded nearly every fighter who earned themself a stoppage victory a “Performance of the Night” bonus. The sole exception being Jiri Prochazka, who was part of the “Fight of the Night” at UFC 275. Now is the time for the UFC to make this a permanent part of its post-event festivities.

There are a few reasons for this.

No more “Holy sh-t!” factor

First, it removes the arbitrary nature of the post-fight bonus process. Currently, there are no rules or guidelines as to what constitutes a bonus-earning performance. From what I can see, it’s motivated mostly — but not entirely — by the “holy sh-t!” factor. Which is to say, did the performance make UFC president Dana White or whoever doles out the extra scratch, exclaim, “holy sh-t!”?

If the UFC says “every stoppage gets a bonus” from now on, every UFC fighter knows precisely what they must do to achieve that bonus. It’s simple. There are no gray areas. No one can claim favoritism. Frankly, it makes things easier for the fighters — and the UFC.

It’s a good PR move

Earlier this month, Bloody Elbow published a story that showed the UFC’s revenue was over $1 billion in the last 12 months (April 1, 2021 - March 31, 2022). That story extrapolated that the fighter share of that revenue was 17.5 percent. When compared to other major sports (NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL) that percentage falls far short of the 50 percent revenue split (via collective bargaining agreements) those sports have between ownership and athletes.

White loves to sound off about how great the UFC is doing when it comes to bringing in cash. However, he’s not so quick to boast about how little the athletes — who are responsible for nearly all that revenue — receive as independent contractors.

Adopting the all finishes earn $50,000 structure would allow the UFC to claim they are sharing more of the revenue while also putting the ability to earn that extra money into the hands of the fighters.

White loves to say, “Don’t let it in the hands of the judges” when it comes to wins and losses. Making every finish worth $50,000 would allow him to crow about fighters having the ability to earn extra money by going for a finish in every fight.

I can almost guarantee that if the UFC implements the change, White will bluster about how much “X” fighter earned in bonuses in a given year whenever someone asks him about low fighter pay.

It’s relatively cheap

There were 243 finishes in the UFC in 2021. Under the “all finishes earn a $50,000 bonus” program, that would equate to $12.15 million. If you assume that every current Performance of the Night bonus is a finish, the UFC already budgets $4.35 million for those bonuses under a schedule of 43 fight cards per year. In short, the promotion would add less than $8 million to its budget with the “stoppage” bonus change. Assuming $1 billion in revenue, that would be less than one percent of the promotion’s yearly revenue.

With that, White’s past concerns of f—king up the budget should be shrugged off and ignored.

$50,000 isn’t $50,000 any more

The UFC made the post-fight bonus awards all worth $50,000 in 2013. Before that, the number sometimes fluctuated up or down. That was nearly 10 years ago. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $50,000 in March 2013 is equal to $39,818.03 in May 2022. With that, it kind of makes sense that the UFC allow more fighters to share in the post-event spoils.

Make it a part of the 10th annual “International Fight Week”

The UFC is scheduled to hold its 10th annual “International Fight Week” this year from June 27 through July 3. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the festivities than the UFC announcing that each finish in a UFC contest, starting with UFC 276, will earn $50,000.