There has been much handwringing about the dismal salaries paid to the fighters at Sunday's WEC 41. The top earner, Jens Pulver, made just $31,000. Mike Brown, the WEC featherweight champ who has defended his belt twice, made just $25,000. These fighters do deserve more when you consider not only the excellent fights that they put on, but the promotion that they did ahead of the fight. They spend time in press conferences, open workouts, advertising shoots, online chats, the list goes on. Does $25,000 really cover their time and effort? Apparently not, as Urijah Faber made noise before the fight about a union.
Here is the problem with wanting Brown, Faber, Pulver and company to be paid more. They signed a contract agreeing to be paid that amount of money. For better or worse, they agreed to that amount, and from a business standpoint, why would the WEC just pay someone more than the contractually agreed upon amount? When you get your paycheck, is there ever magically more money than you had agreed upon when you took that job or negotiated your raise? Of course not.
It doesn't matter that this event brought in a record gate, and likely had huge ratings. They're a business, and until Brown, Faber, Miguel Torres and all the rest of the fighters negotiate new deals, the WEC will keep paying them dismal amounts. But to keep their fighters happy, the WEC does need a way to reward their best performances. How can they do that?
By augmenting those sorry fight night bonuses. WEC fighters get a paltry $10,000 for Submission of the Night, Knockout of the Night, and Fight of the Night. The UFC fighters get $60K for their bonuses. For those of you who aren't mathemeticians, the bonuses that the UFC awards are more than Faber and Brown's purses combined. That is all kinds of insanity.
Zuffa, who owns both the UFC and the WEC, can make their lives much easier with their top WEC guys by, at the very least, doubling their bonuses. Faber, Brown and Torres have taken home fight night bonuses at the last three WEC events. Awarding bigger bonuses will not only keep their top fighters happy until it is time to renegotiate, but it would also encourage young up-and-comers to strive even more for the bonus. It sounds like a win-win-win to me.