As the UFC continues to tout record profits and revenue, Luke Rockhold would love to see more of that money end up in the fighters’ pockets.
But one area in particular really bugs the former middleweight champion.
Following every event, the UFC announces bonuses paid out for “Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night.” Those particular awards were started back in 2012, with $50,000 being paid out to each athlete earning a bonus.
“F****** $50,000 bonuses going on for two decades. Like, what the f***?” Rockhold told MMA Fighting. “The valuation of the company’s going up f****** billions of dollars and we’re still stuck on $50,000 bonus checks? What the f*** is this? People need to wake up.”
While there have been rare events where the UFC has upped the amount paid out and arbitrarily selected some cards where extra bonuses are paid, the standard $50,000 amount hasn’t changed in the past decade. In fact, it’s actually lowered compared to some of the UFC bonus payouts of the past.
Certain events prior to 2012 saw payouts that totaled much higher, such the $129,000 bonuses given out at UFC 129 and the $100,000 bonuses given out at UFC 100.
That doesn’t sit too well with Rockhold, who knows the UFC could absolutely up the ante when it comes to the post-fight bonuses being paid out at each event.
“Remember when they were doing $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 we gone up in valuation since that fight — and we’re still tracking backwards and they’re still f****** us on pay.
“People need to shut the f*** up, ‘Oh, bonus $50,000!’ It’s becoming a thing. Let’s get $200,000 — $200G’s, motherf*****. That’s what you want to hear. The company needs to be reworked a little bit.”
The $50,000 amount has become so synonymous with bonuses that fighters routinely call for that exact figure following a big win. Featherweight contender Dan Ige even adopted a new nickname as “$50K” based on the UFC’s post-fight bonus.
But Rockhold believes the UFC needs to re-evaluate how much those bonuses are actually worth in 2022, because what $50,000 meant a decade ago isn’t the same thing now. He doesn’t think it’s asking too much for the fighters to be able to benefit from the continued explosion of UFC profits — and there’s no greater example of how that’s not happening than the current post-fight bonuses.
“It should gradually grow,” Rockhold said. “The company, everything should grow, we should grow together. That’s how a healthy business works.
“When you build an unhealthy business, it just takes enough time for the f****** egg to crack and enough people to grow a f****** sack. Too bad there’s not enough of us who have a sack.”
Rockhold has rarely held back his feelings on fighter pay or other issues he’s had with the UFC. It doesn’t appear that’s going to change, even as he prepares to make his return at UFC 278 on Aug. 20.