UFC president Dana White often talks about the structured bonus system set up for each and every event where the competitors on the card have the opportunity to walk away with an additional $50,000 for ‘Fight of the Night’ or one of two ‘Performance of the Night’ for being the best of the best on the card.
On occasions fighters have even walked away with two bonuses such as Matt Brown, who took home $100,000 after he earned ‘Fight of the Night’ and ‘Performance of the Night’ honors for his fight against Erick Silva back in May.
Some fighters acknowledge the bonuses before stepping foot in the cage because it’s quite an incentive to have an extra $50,000 dangled in front of you as White teases all of them to go and get it. On the other hand, ‘going for broke’ to get that money can often serve as a distraction to the larger goal in MMA, which should always be winning.
UFC second timer Cody Gibson isn’t hiding his desire to land a bonus and it’s not because he’s trying to save his job or make White a fan of his style. It’s because $50,000 to a young fighter is life changing money and Gibson couldn’t think of any better reason to go out and get that bonus if he can do it.
You hear these horror stories of people in their 50’s and 60’s still paying off their student loans, and I’m trying to avoid that
— Cody Gibson
"I do put pressure on myself to win this fight, winning is the most imperative thing. At the same time I want to put on a good show and make it exciting and hopefully walk away with a bonus as well," Gibson told FOX Sports. "I think Johnny Bedford’s going to be really aggressive and so am I, and when you get two guys who are willing to put it all on the line, good things happen."
Now it’s understandable to think that every time a fighter wins a bonus they instantaneously become Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, who never keeps it a secret that he loves to spend his money on the biggest and best toys in the world from boats to RV’s that he uses while traveling around the country. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, Gibson has a much different use for the bonus money if he happens to win one on Saturday night.
He’s not buying a car or even a really nice present for his wife, although flowers would probably be a good idea.
No instead, Gibson would like to pay off a mountain of student loan debt he accrued while in college. As many people in their early 20’s realize after graduating, paying back the loans that got you through school can not only be difficult, but a daunting task that can sometimes take decades to settle.
It’s not easy to reconcile the fact that the moment college is over, there’s already a noose around your neck for the money borrowed to get to graduation so Gibson doesn’t want to live through some of the horror stories he’s heard about where students were paying off loans until very late in life because of rising interest rates and the astronomical amount of money owed.
"When you’re 19, 20, 21 years old and you’re signing these documents it’s like ‘yeah I’m in school and this is okay’ but now that I’m out of school the reality sets in that I have to pay these back. You hear these horror stories of people in their 50’s and 60’s still paying off their student loans, and I’m trying to avoid that," Gibson said.
A recent study showed that the average college student upon graduation with loans already owes in the neighborhood of $29,000 before stepping foot in a workplace. Many loans also average between three and seven percent interest each year, which can also accrue into the money owed once it’s all said and done.
While Gibson would love nothing more than to hear words like ‘exciting’ or ‘thrilling’ to describe his style inside the cage, once the fight is over the best way to compliment him would be to call him ‘responsible’. So a $50,000 bonus earned would certainly disappear quickly in his hands with one piece going to provide for his family and the other chunk taking care of his student loans.
"It would be really nice," Gibson admitted. "I’ve got student loans to pay off. My two goals financially in this sport right now are to put a down payment on a house for me and my wife and to pay off my student loans. If I can do that in the next year or two, that would be awesome. I’m definitely shooting for the bonus.
"I would definitely try to pay down a big chunk of it if I get a bonus on Saturday night."