In March, UFC president Dana White announced that 'of the Night' performance bonuses would be set at a uniform $50,000 for every show.
Previously they had ranged from $40,000 for the TUF 13 Finale, to $139,000 for UFC 139, with a 2012 average of $55,322.
"The bonuses are $50,000 now, so I don't have to say it anymore," explained White at the time. "Nobody ever complained about it. The bonuses are a gift – so it's like someone getting a Christmas present and saying, 'I didn't want this, I wanted a f---ing car.' It was fair to keep them straight all the way across so no matter what card you fight on, it's the same bonus."
"I get crazy sometimes. Yeah – I can get as crazy as I want to get, but it's fair to keep them all $50,000 so if you're on a FUEL card, if you're a pay-per-view card, a 'Fight Night' card, it's all the same."
However, at the UFCs since, the payout has been $65,000.
Ben Fowlkes explains why, and why bonus winners owe Bryan Caraway a little appreciation.
He didn't win one of the UFC 159 bonus awards, but Caraway made them a little more worthwhile for those who did. According to White, Caraway argued the bonuses from $50,000 up to $65,000, and he did it mostly by refusing to shut up about it.
White said it was Caraway who initiated the locker room negotiation, "and he just kept talking."
"And I said, 'What are you, a f---ing union representative?'" White said. "It was actually funny. We had a good time in the locker room."
Maybe there's a couple lessons here for UFC fighters. One is that it pays – literally – to have someone like Caraway looking out for your collective interests. Jokes about union representatives aside, here's an example of why that's not such a bad idea. Pat Healy is probably not the type to try to haggle over bonus money with the boss. But because he had the good fortune to be on the same card as someone who would, Healy now has an extra $30,000 in his pocket between the two separate bonuses he won. That makes a major financial difference for all the non-superstars in the ranks.
Lesson No. 2 is one that all the managers out there might want to note. How do you get White to agree to your terms? Apparently you just keep talking and talking and talking. You win the way erosion wins: one grain of sand at a time. Maybe that becomes your greatest negotiating weakness once you're a very rich man with more money than patience. I wouldn't know. What I do know is that the next time I need to buy a car, I'm bringing Caraway to the dealership with me. I'll even buy him lunch afterward, which is the least Healy could do for him now.
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Given that there were over 30 UFCs in 2012, and will likely be more in 2013, the difference between $50k bonuses and $65k for exceptional performance is around 1.5 million dollars per year.
So one milion, and a half, cheers for Bryan Caraway.
In the mean time, the universe has in its own way seen fit to reward Caraway for his excellence.
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