Will the UFC’s New Bonus Structure Lead to More Entertaining Fights?

Less than two weeks after fighters at UFC 169 set a new record for the most decisions on a fight card in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history, the world’s leading MMA promotion has come up with a new bonus structure.

It’s really not that different from its predecessor. The “Fight of the Night” awards will remain intact, but the “Submission of the Night” and “Knockout of the Night” awards have been replaced with two individual “Performance of the Night” awards. As with the previous bonus structure, all award winners will receive at least $50,000.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to put its new bonus system to the test starting from its next event: the UFC Fight Night 36 fight card set for Feb. 15 at the Arena Jaragua in Santa Catarina, Brazil.

How these changes affect the quality of fights henceforth remains to be seen, but, at the very least, it should be just as effective as the previous scheme. The two systems are almost identical; the new bonus structure simply gives the UFC more flexibility when it comes to determining each event’s award winners.

Let’s use the Feb. 1 UFC 169 fight card as an example.

Since there weren’t any submissions on the entire card, the UFC gave Fight of the Night award winners Abel Trujillo and Jamie Varner an extra $25,000 apiece to go with the standard $50,000. Trujillo received the Knockout of the Night award, since the only other stoppage on the card was on the premature side, bringing “Killa’s” total to $125,000.

It was a nice payday for Trujillo, but there were others on the card that also deserved some sort of award.

Others like Al Iaquinta and Kevin Lee.

These two entertained MMA fans for 15 minutes, trading hard shots, submission attempts, and sweeps. Unfortunately for them, the UFC’s previous bonus structure didn’t recognize engaging fights that went the distance — unless said bout was good enough to win the Fight of the Night award, so Lee and Iaquinta weren’t officially recognized for their hard work. Despite being the second most entertaining fight at UFC 169 in my opinion.

Bouts like Iaquinta vs. Lee are often overlooked thanks to the general misconception that MMA fights that end via stoppage are more entertaining than those that go the distance.

Hopefully, the UFC’s change to a new bonus systems signifies a breakaway from that train of thought.

Simply put, fights that go the distance can be just as entertaining as the most vicious finishes (sometimes more), so combatants in the UFC should be rewarded for putting on a show, regardless of if the fight goes the distance or not.

Let’s take a look back at 2013. What were the most entertaining MMA fights that took place that year? Some might say: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, Johny Hendricks vs. Georges St. Pierre, Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez, Antonio Silva vs. Mark Hunt, and Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez 2 (Bellator).

Now, what did all those fights have in common?

They all went the distance.

David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.


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