Despite getting choked out in the second-round by Josh Sampo, UFC first-timer Ryan Benoit was awarded $100,000 in Fight of the Night bonuses following Saturday’s TUF 18 Finale. Though the FOTN award would normally pocket each fighter $50,000 apiece, UFC president Dana White decided to give both bonuses to Benoit, because Sampo came in 2.5 pounds over his flyweight limit on Friday. As White put it at the post-fight press conference, “it pays to make weight.” (Sampo was fined 10% of his purse for missing weight, half of which went to his opponent, so that’s probably another $600-$800 for Benoit right there.)
Benoit’s hundred-grand windfall is even more surprising because, as the data shows, opening bouts are rarely remembered when it’s time to award bonuses. The Benoit vs. Sampo match had the curtain-jerking spot at the TUF 18 Finale, and was the only fight to be broadcast on Facebook instead of the FOX Sports network. Most likely, you didn’t see it. But in a card marked by underwhelming performances, one-sided beatings, and a brutal disqualification, the Benoit/Sampo fight was at least a competitive scrap.
Ryan Benoit isn’t the first UFC fighter to win two performance bonuses in his Octagon debut; James Krause did it earlier this year when he picked up the Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night awards after coming in as an injury replacement against Sam Stout at UFC 161. But of course, Krause won that fight.
For the record, headliner Nate Diaz won the TUF 18 Finale’s $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus for smoking Gray Maynard in half a round, and Chris Holdsworth earned the Submission of the Night for choking out David Grant in the men’s TUF final. Holdsworth’s submission was the only one on the card scored by a fighter who made weight.