The Art of the Performance of the Night: Bonus Chasers
It seems we run into stories of current or former UFC fighters complaining about levels of pay from the world’s number one promotion. From top tier talent such as Tim Kennedy to mid-level and long retired talent such as Nate Quarry, the UFC have taken criticism from all angles.
That includes from outside the sport, as some of their promotional counterparts from the world of boxing. Including Dana White’s long time rival Bob Arum. Shots were even fired from the highest-paid sportsman in the world, boxing superstar Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. When he revealed an interest in promoting MMA, so that “fighters make more money”.
Luckily, however, the UFC offers an alternative way of supplementing your pay; incorporating a post-fight bonus system. Allowing outstanding performances to be rewarded with a substantial cheque. For a long time, the bonuses were based on three things; Knockout Of The Night, Submission Of The Night and Fight Of The Night. Zuffa encouraged fighters that ‘make it exciting’.
This is a system that worked for the UFC for a number of years since its inception at UFC Fight Night 3 in 2006. It wasn’t without its faults though, as often either the knockout or submission award was won by default. With the recipient of the bonus being the only one on the entire card. Or often not even won at all should there be neither. This changed earlier in 2014 though when the UFC decided to shake their system up a little.
Fight Of The Night would remain in its previous form. But Knockout and Submission would be replaced with a more inclusive ‘Performance Of The Night’ bonus, of which two would be awarded at each event. This allowed the UFC management room to award spectacular performances even if both, or neither were knockouts or submissions.
Taking Advantage Of The Bonus System
A number of fighters have taken advantage of the bonus system to supplement their pay packet considerably. The most notable of these is exciting lightweight Joe Lauzon, current record holder on his own with an incredible 13 in total. ‘J-Lau’ spent a long time tied at the top with Anderson Silva. Himself a regular bonus winner, before taking the record on his own in his prematurely stopped war with Michael Chiesa back in September.
A Jiu-Jitsu brown belt under the great Ricky Lundell, Lauzon holds 6 Submission Of The Night performances. Including his spectacular kimura-triangle win over Curt Warburton. And his third-round triangle of Jamie Varner, a fight in which both men also gained Fight Of The Night honours.
The Massachusetts native also has 6 Fight Of The Night performances under his belt. With an astonishing 4 of those coming in losing efforts. With the nature of the UFC contract heavily rewarding wins, Lauzon’s exciting style has ensured a healthy pay packet even when things don’t go his way.
Not blessed with exceptional knockout power to speak of, Lauzon has proved one-punch power not to be necessary in bonus chasing. As ‘The Human Bonus Machine’ has picked up just one Knockout Of The Night award, that coming in his 48 second KO of Jens Pulver, back at UFC 63.
That is not something that has been a problem for fellow regular bonus winner. And fellow UFC lightweight, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. The Denver Colorado native now training in Albuquerque at Jackson – Winkeljohn has 10 bonuses in his UFC career so far. As well as 5 Fight Of The Night awards from his time in the Zuffa-owned WEC.
The Donald Cerrone Bonus Machine
Cerrone, whose 4 knockout wins have all come during his time in the UFC has seen his efforts rewarded with 3 Knockout Of The Night awards. With his trademark vicious Muay Thai proving too much for the likes of Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard.
Cerrone has also received props for his skills on the ground, receiving two Submission Of The Night honours. Including his highlight-reel triangle of Evan Dunham at UFC 167. Enjoying a blockbuster 15 months or so, ‘Cowboy’ has stayed busy and his win over Myles Jury was a remarkable 6th Octagon victory since November 2013.
With 4 bonus winning performances in that run, the #4 ranked Lightweight has found his own remedy to complaints about pay. “I hear guys talking about they don’t get paid enough,” Donald Cerrone told MMAjunkie. “If you want to just sign on the dotted line, I’ll be your huckleberry. I’m ready to go.”.
That’s not to say you have to be an all-action Berserker-style warrior to win bonuses. Many fighters have claimed their share of post-fight bonuses due to specialising in a certain skill. Anderson Silva, for instance currently sits at no.2 in the all-time bonus ranks helped by a massive 7 Knockout Of The Night awards. The iconic Brazilian is known for his razor-sharp striking and has used it in numerous highlight-reel finishes of top contenders such as Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin.
Heavyweight Knockout Kings
Likewise, Roy Nelson, the Heavyweight is known for his heavy-hitting has over 60% of his post-fight bonus wins in the Knockout Of The Night column. On the other side of the coin, you’ll find BJJ wizards such as Cole Miller with 4 Submission Of The Night awards. And Charles Oliveira, whose bonus winning Anaconda choke of Hatsu Hioki became his 5th ‘… Of the Night’ earned by his slick grappling.
Designed to encourage competitors to make fights more exciting. The UFC’s post-fight bonus system is certainly something that sets the world’s largest MMA promotion apart from its counterparts from other sports. It is a system that UFC management have used to reward some of their best-performing personnel. And a system that leading fighters have used to increase their own pay packets.
Though a large number of fighters, both past and present, do complain about the pay structure, that isn’t something you hear from the leading names often. The UFC is one of the only promotions in any sport worldwide that pay competitors money they don’t actually owe them. And it is because of this evolving and progressive system that the fights are kept as thrilling and exciting as possible for the fans.
Image courtesy of fansided.com