As the UFC continues to tout record profits and revenue, Luke Rockhold would love to see more of that money find its way into fighters’ pockets.
But one area in particular bugs the former middleweight champion.
After each event, the UFC announces bonuses paid for Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night. These special awards were introduced back in 2012, with $50,000 being paid to each athlete who earns a bonus.
“Fuck $50,000 bonuses that run for two decades. Like, what the heck?” Rockhold told MMA Fighting. “The company’s valuation goes up a freaking billion dollars and we’re still stuck in bonus checks for $50,000? What the hell is that? People need to wake up.”
While there have been rare occurrences where the UFC has increased the payout amount and arbitrarily selected some cards to pay out additional bonuses, the standard $50,000 hasn’t changed in the past decade. In fact, it’s actually lower compared to some past UFC bonus payouts.
Certain events prior to 2012 had payouts that were much higher, such as the $129,000 bonuses awarded at UFC 129 and the $100,000 bonuses awarded at UFC 100.
That doesn’t sit well with Rockhold, who knows the UFC could absolutely up the ante on the post-fight bonuses paid out at each event.
“Remember when they gave out $100,000 bonuses when Jake Shields fought Georges St-Pierre? Now we’re still stuck on $50,000 bonuses,” Rockhold said. “I mean how many billions have our valuation gone up since that fight – and we’re still backtracking and they’re still fucking us with the pay.
“People need to shut up, ‘Oh, $50,000 bonus!’ It becomes a thing. Let’s get $200,000 – $200 motherf*****. That’s what you want to hear. The company needs a little overhaul.”
The $50,000 figure has become so synonymous with bonuses that fighters routinely ask for that exact amount after a big win. Featherweight contender Dan Ige even adopted a new nickname as “$50,000” based on the UFC’s post-fight bonus.
However, Rockhold believes the UFC needs to reevaluate how much those bonuses are actually worth in 2022, because what $50,000 meant a decade ago isn’t the same now. He doesn’t think it’s asking too much for fighters to capitalize on the ongoing explosion in UFC winnings – and there’s no better example of how that’s not happening than the current post-fight bonuses.
“It should grow gradually,” Rockhold said. “The company, everything should grow, we should grow together. This is how a healthy company works.
“When you build an unhealthy business, it just takes enough time for the egg to crack and enough people to grow the heck. Too bad we don’t have enough who have a sack.”
Rockhold has rarely held back his feelings regarding fighter pay or other issues he has had with the UFC. It doesn’t look like that’s about to change, even as he gears up for his return at UFC 278 on August 20.