Long-time UFC commentator Joe Rogan is not a fan of win bonuses in combat sports.
In combat sports, particularly in mixed martial arts, it’s typical for fighters to be paid a flat rate for competing, and then an additional figure (oftentimes the same amount) if they win.
During a conversation with former UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Rogan explained why win bonuses are problematic.
The first issue, he said, is that MMA judges are often flatly incompetent, which means they occasionally award decisions to the wrong fighter, thereby depriving a deserving fighter of their win bonus.
“That win bonus, I do not like,” Rogan said emphatically. “I have said this from the beginning, I just don’t think it’s fair. First of all, if you’re going to do a win bonus, you need to do something about the judging. You need to have a better scoring system, and you need to get rid of incompetence.
“In other states, it’s dire,” Rogan continued, expanding on the issues with win bonuses and MMA judging. “I don’t want to name states, but there’s been states where we do fights where I’m just going ‘who watched that fight?’ How is this even possible? People just get f**king robbed. So, if you have win bonuses, and a guy comes in and he’s getting $50,000, and then if he wins he gets another $50,000, you stole $50,000 from that guy by giving him incompetent judging.”
Rogan added that fighters are often so desperate to earn their win bonuses that they exercise conservative strategies as a precaution, which can lead to boring fights.
“If you’re a fighter, you’ve got to do your best to win,” Rogan said. “If that means take a guy down and hump him, and throw enough punches to keep the referee from standing you up, that’s $50,000 for you.”
Joe Rogan has been working for the UFC since 1997. Initially, he served as a backstage interviewer for the promotion, but quickly moved into a color commentary role. He has worked for the promotion ever since, and has become as much a part of big UFC cards as the Octagon itself. Over the last few years, a number of fighters, such as Paul Felder, Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier, have joined him at the commentary desk.
What do you think of these remarks from the UFC commentator? Is it time to change the way pay is structured in MMA?