A UFC fighter that was in tears after winning his promotional debut received a huge surprise later in the evening that was sure to make him all smiles. Brandon Royval had won his UFC debut against 11th-ranked flyweight contender Tim Elliott on Saturday night at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, but that didn’t seem to make the 27-year-old very happy.
Instead, after appearing to be sad in the immediate aftermath of scoring the excellent submission win over his opponent, Royval’s voiced cracked in what looked like legitimate despair over not having put on the kind of performance, at least in his own mind, that would net him some bonus money.
“I have to go to work tomorrow, do you know that?” Royval asked Daniel Cormier during the post-fight interview. ‘Like, I gotta go to work tomorrow and that’s because I didn’t put on a good performance today.”
Royval Desperately Wanted Performance Bonus to Quit Job
So Royval had essentially admitted to putting all his eggs into the UFC performance bonus basket.
“I’m better than that man,” Royval said. “At the end of the day, I’m a striker. I put on exciting fights. That’s not gonna get me 50K.”
Like most of the UFC fighters you see on your screen during most weekends, especially in the vast majority of fights that make up the undercards, Royval supports his professional fighting career by working a second job.
After beating Elliot, the Colorado-based fighter told Cormier he wasn’t looking forward to going back to his other job.
“I’m still gonna have to go to work next weekend,” Royval said. “So, I don’t know man, I’m not impressed by myself. He gassed. I didn’t look good at all man. Bad performance man. I’m sorry.”
Royval’s Huge Surprise Was Winning Fight of the Night
So Royval must have received the surprise of a lifetime when it turns out that he did actually win a performance bonus.
Royval-Elliott was named Fight of the Night for UFC Las Vegas. That netted Royval the $50,000 bonus he had cried over, along with the added prize of not having to go to work tomorrow.
You can see the tears in Elliot’s eyes before he learned of the Fight of the Night bonus when the fighter made his post-fight comments to Cormier in the clip below.
“I don’t know, man. I’m not impressed by myself. He gassed. I didn’t look good at all, man.”
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 30, 2020
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Cormier Praised Royval’s Performance
Royval seemed incredibly down for having just won his first UFC fight, especially against a tough competitor like Elliott.
Elliot explained to Cormier how he saw the fight going.
“I was thinking, ‘Why am I letting him take me down man? That’s not me. I got the top, he had me in a guillotine–I knew he wasn’t gonna get it, but I had his legs locked in a funky place so I knew …”
That’s about the time Cormier cut Royval off. The former UFC “champ champ” wanted to be the voice of reason to Royval. The debuting fighter had just gone 1-0 in the UFC, and Cormier thought he should probably be happier about that.
“Brandon, I gotta be honest man, you’re being really hard on yourself,” Cormier said. “You just won your UFC debut over one of the top 15 guys in the division. On Monday, you’re gonna have a ranking right next to your name that you told us you wanted. You cannot be that disappointed.”
Royval: ‘I’m Trying to Make Money out Here, Bro’
But Royval wasn’t buying into what Cormier said. Instead, he doubled down on his stance, perhaps highlighting the growing problem the UFC seems to have in regards to how much it pays its fighters.
“Yeah, I’m trying to make money out here bro,” Royval said. “I’m trying to change my life. I’m not trying to go to work tomorrow.
Still, Cormier wanted Royval to focus on the positive.
“No, you put on a fantastic performance and on Monday, when the rankings come out, Brandon Royval will be in those rankings after his UFC debut,” Cormier said. “Congratulations, bud, and good luck in the future.”
UFC Continues to Battle Negative Press Over Pay
It hasn’t been a great week for the UFC when it comes to how fans and media perceive how much (or little) the company pays its fighters.
First, UFC superstar Jon Jones asked to be released from his UFC contract over allegations that Dana White had lied to the media about Jones asking for the same kind of money former heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder made for his last bout.
While that issue has not yet been completely resolved, another issue that has been totally resolved is how much more the best professional boxers make in comparison to their MMA counterparts.
UFC superstar Conor McGregor is the biggest draw in MMA, but that didn’t keep heavyweight boxing champ Tyson Fury from leapfrogging the 31-year-old Irishman to become the highest-paid combat sports athlete in the world according to Forbes.
Conor McGregor is the 16th highest paid athlete in all of sports, according to Forbes annual list 💰 pic.twitter.com/3mbLqfyVNs
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 29, 2020
Nevermind that McGregor is still infinitely more popular across the globe than Fury. The UFC’s business model somehow keeps even its biggest cash cow from usurping boxing’s biggest draw.
So Royval’s shocking sadness over how much money he didn’t think he was going to make for his UFC debut win over Elliott couldn’t have come at a worse time for the company.
Luckily, or perhaps quite purposely by UFC officials hoping to minimize the damage done by the optics of the entire situation to the brand, Royval did ultimately net the bonus money after all.
Whatever the case, Royval is probably all smiles now.
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