How do UFC bonuses work?

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Danny Howard

January 31st, 2022

Fighter pay has become a major talking point in the UFC lately, but what many fans don't realize is that the promotion doles out generous bonuses to incentivize its combatants. Find out more with our guide to everything you wanted to know about UFC bonuses, but were afraid to ask. 

What are bonuses in the UFC?

After every card, the UFC sweetens the pot for a select few fighters that turned in exceptional performances. These incentives initially started out for the competitors who appeared in the fight of the night, which was voted on by the fans. The UFC also used to give out bonuses for the biggest knockouts or submissions of the night, but ended the practice in 2014.

How much are UFC bonuses worth?

Generally, bonuses hover at $50,000 per recipient. For certain cards, the payout is increased to $75,000 per recipient. During the early days of UFC, bonuses ranged anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000 per fighter. The streamlined bonus pay as we know it also went into effect in 2014.

How long has the UFC been giving fighters bonuses?

The first recorded bonus for a UFC event happened at UFC Fight Night 3 on Jan. 16, 2006 as a fight of the night bonus for Melvin Guillard vs. Josh Neer. The first performance-based bonuses were given out on the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 3 in 2006, when Luigi Fioravanti scored the KO of the night. The submission of the night bonus was split between Kenny Florian and Rory Singer.

What is the largest bonus a UFC fighter has received?

The largest bonus doled out by the UFC was back on March 3, 2011. UFC on Versus 3 featured the fight of the night between Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann. UFC president Dana White was so impressed by the brutal war that he raised the bonus from $40,000 to $160,000. White hasn’t felt as generous since, but cards expected to bring big business will often yield $75,000 payouts as opposed to the average $50,000.

Who has claimed the most bonuses in UFC history?

Since the bonus system went into effect in 2006, both Donald Cerrone and current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira are tied for most overall bonuses at 18. Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza each have eight Fight of the Night honors. The legendary Anderson Silva picked up seven Knockout of the Night awards before it was discontinued, and Joe Lauzon had six Submissions of the Night. Oliveira stands alone with a whopping 12 Performance of the Night awards.

For the women, ex-strawweight champion Jessica Andrade leads the pick with eight overall awards and four Fight of the Night honors. Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes are each tied with five Performance of the Night awards.