(Pierson and Riddle’s three-round battle wasn’t enough to win FOTN, but Riddle did go home with the $100 Snot Rocket of the Night bonus. Photo courtesy of MMAFighting.com.)
The performance bonus payouts for Saturday’s UFC 124 event were notable for several reasons: For the first time ever, the UFC allowed fans to choose the "Fight of the Night" in an online vote. Update: The FOTN and Knockout bonuses were $100,000 apiece — the largest bumps since UFC 100 — and two separate [$50,000] Submission of the Night awards were handed out, which meant the total bonus money added up to $400,000, half of which arguably went to the wrong guys. Here’s how the UFC 124 bonuses shook out, in order of most deserving to least deserving…
Submission of the Night #1: Jim Miller, for surviving the relentless grappling offensive of Charles Oliveira, then ending the fight himself with a kneebar just shy of the two-minute mark. Submitting the young, formerly undefeated jiu-jitsu phenom is a major accomplishment for Miller, and should hopefully earn him a fight with a big name in his next outing.
Submission of the Night #2: Mark Bocek, for his first-round triangle choke of Dustin Hazelett (who’s no slouch on the ground either). The way that Bocek set up the triangle from the top then rolled underneath Hazelett to secure it was pretty freakin’ brilliant.
Knockout of the Night: Mac Danzig. There’s something a little anti-climactic about a knockout that comes from a backpedaling hook, but since the only other KO/TKO on the card was Stefan Struve‘s GnP stoppage of Sean McCorkle, you have to give the bonus money to the guy who was able to lay out his opponent face-first with one punch.
Fight of the Night: And here’s where it gets unfortunate. The online voters used their muscle to award $100,000 bonuses to main eventers Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck. Was it a competitive fight? No sir. Was it all that action-packed? Not really, unless you get off on jabs and inside leg kicks. Do GSP and Koscheck need the extra money? Well, they were going to be the highest-paid fighters on the card anyway, so probably not. UFC president Dana White felt that the prelim battle between UFC newcomer Sean Pierson and Matt Riddle was more deserving:
"(The fans) are always chirping about how we mess it up and here we are…They blew their chance. That’s it. It’s over." White said he’d take care of Pierson and Riddle.
Not to take away anything from GSP, but Pierson’s target practice session on Chipper Riddle was the real jabbing performance of the night. We’ll have to wait for the FightMetric report, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the match set records for total punches landed (Pierson) and total punches missed (Riddle). Side-note: None of the three judges scored the first round 10-8 for Pierson? That just adds more weight to my theory that smiling through blows will add a point to your score no matter how badly you’re doing.
Of course, leaving the Fight of the Night selection up to the fans was unfair from the start, since it automatically eliminates the four fights that weren’t shown on the broadcast (John Makdessi def. Pat Audinwood via UD, Ricardo Almeida def. TJ Grant via UD, Jesse Bongfeldt and Rafael Natal fought to a majority draw, Dan Miller def. Joe Doerksen via split-decision). And historically, leaving important decisions up to the drooling masses has led to such tragedies as Taylor Hicks, white Mountain Dew, and that president who ruined America. Some people just can’t handle Democracy…