Strikeforce: Was Lorenz Larkin Right About Fighter Bonuses?
After defeating Robbie Lawler on Saturday night at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, Lorenz Larkin dropped to his knees and humbly requested that Strikeforce fighters get in on the bonus action that the UFC roster has enjoyed for years.
Zuffa has a rich tradition of handing out significant sums of money to UFC fighters who give a standout performance on any given night. Specifically, the company assigns bonuses to the fighter who scores the most impressive knockout and the slickest submission, as well as the two fighters who put on the most entertaining fight.
Strikeforce, also owned and operated by Zuffa, has no such system in place. But why not? As Larkin put it in his post-fight address to Dana White on Saturday night, "We're your family, too."
The basest explanation of why the promotion has no bonuses is that Strikeforce fighters are new members of this family. And extended members at that.
Zuffa only acquired Strikeforce recently (2011), and most of the pre-Zuffa systems have remained intact—including an absence of bonuses. Secondly, bonuses could be said to be a UFC thing as easily as they could be said to be a Zuffa thing.
But still, Larkin makes a good point. After all, the guys in Strikeforce are providing their bosses with the same services that UFC guys provide, albeit to lesser fanfare.
It will be interesting to see how Dana White, who was addressed by name by Larkin, responds to the request. It will also be interesting to see how much those bonuses are worth, should White respond in the affirmative.
Regardless of what comes of it, it's good that someone brought attention to this issue. Most Strikeforce fighters make smaller base salaries than their UFC counterparts, are denied PPV sharing revenue because they fight almost exclusively on Showtime and presumably make less in sponsorship money (as they reach a lesser audience than UFC fighters).
It would have been one thing for Larkin to have begged for a bonus for himself, but he didn't do that. He begged for a change to the system. For all fighters under the Strikeforce banner.
Maybe Strikeforce guys don't, in general, deserve to make as much money as UFC fighters do. Maybe the compensation level that comes with fighting in the UFC should remain a characteristic of making it to the big show.
But this is just bonuses. Rewarding Strikeforce fighters for putting on a show hardly tarnishes the prestige of fighting in Zuffa's other, grander show.
Simple solution—give them smaller bonuses. That's a fine blend of equality and meritocracy. Everybody wins.
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