If you’re a fan of the UFC, then you’ve likely heard the buzz surrounding fighter pay. While it’s true that fighter compensation has been a hot topic lately, it’s also important to note that the UFC offers bonuses to incentivize its stars. But even bonuses aren’t as impressive as they once were.
UFC’s $50,000 bonus has 30% less purchasing power than when first given in 2007 to GSP @ UFC 79. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.35% per year between 2007 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 45.09%.
Adjusted for inflation, $50,000 in 2023 is equal to $33,996 in 2007.
How do UFC bonuses work?
UFC bonuses are monetary incentives given to select athletes who have delivered exceptional performances during a card. The bonus system began with the fight of the night award, which was initially voted on by the fans. While the UFC used to give out bonuses for the biggest knockouts or submissions of the night, they stopped the practice in 2014.
How Much Are UFC Bonuses Worth?
Typically, UFC bonuses are worth $50,000 per recipient. However, UFC did agree to an increase to $75,000 per recipient for specific events. UFC 262 was the first event where fighters were paid $75,000 for post-fight bonuses, thanks to Tony Ferguson who asked for the increase.
UFC briefly tested the idea of handing out $100,000 bonuses. That was done for the Jake Shields vs Georges St-Pierre card (UFC 129) in 2011.
In the early days of the UFC, bonuses ranged from $30,000 to $80,000 per fighter. The current streamlined bonus pay system has been in effect since 2014.
When Did the UFC Start Giving Bonuses?
The first recorded bonus for a UFC event was at UFC Fight Night 3 on January 16, 2006, when Melvin Guillard and Josh Neer received the fight of the night award.
The first performance-based bonuses were given out at The Ultimate Fighter 3 finale in 2006.
Luigi Fioravanti received the knockout of the night award, and Kenny Florian and Rory Singer split the submission of the night award.
What is the Largest Bonus a UFC Fighter has Received?
The largest bonus given out by the UFC was at UFC on Versus 3 on March 3, 2011. The “Fight of the Night” between Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann impressed UFC president Dana White so much that he raised the bonus from $40,000 to $160,000.
While White hasn’t felt as generous since, cards expected to bring big business will often have more bonuses than the typical three. In several instances, UFC awarded all finishers on a particular card with a $50,000 bonus. One instance of this, was for UFC London in March of 2022.
Who Has Received the Most UFC Bonuses?
Since the bonus system was introduced in 2006, two fighters are tied for the most overall bonuses: Donald Cerrone and current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, both with 18.
Meanwhile, Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar, and Edson Barboza have all earned eight “Fight of the Night” award 8 times.
Anderson Silva received seven “Knockout of the Night” award 7 times before the category was discontinued, while Joe Lauzon had six “Submission of the Night” honors.
Oliveira stands alone with a staggering 12 “Performance of the Night” awards.
Justin Gaethje just received his 11th bonus for his Performance on UFC 286 card making for a total of $550,000 he made on bonuses alone.
Among women fighters, former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade leads the way with eight overall awards, including four “Fight of the Night” honors. Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes are tied with five “Performance of the Night” awards each.
Since 2014, Benny A. King has been fully immersed in the world of combat sports. Starting with a blog about Greco Roman wrestling, Benny’s passion for combat sports has led him to explore various disciplines.