In case you missed it (and it seems like many alleged “fight fans” did), UFC 228 was pretty fricken’ awesome — there were nine finishes (four submissions, five knockouts) on the 13-fight card. Included in that lot were two rare “Suloev stretch” submissions (a.k.a. banana split, a.k.a. inverted kneebar) courtesy of Zabit Magomedsharipov and Aljamain Sterling (watch it) ... on the same night! Neither of them, though, were apparently sensational enough to warrant a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” from Dana White and Co.
So training partners Geoff Neal and Abdul Razak Alhassan shouldn’t feel too terrible that their respective highlight-reel finishes were not rewarded, either. Their bank accounts? Well, they have every right to be mad as hell. Anyway, Neal and Alhassan had a brilliant idea heading into the weekend: The two would split the extra bonus money if either fighter was fortunate to win it.
Here’s how it was supposed to go down (via MMAFighting.com):
“Neal had made a pact with his teammate Abdul Razak Alhassan, which started out as a friendly competition. During fight week, Neal told Alhassan he would be taking home a $50,000 bonus. Alhassan thought that it would go to him. Rather than argue the case, they each agreed to split the bonus 50/50 should only one of them win it — $25,000 apiece.”
That’s unlike those blue-collar midwest factory workers who pool all their money, buy 100+ shared Powerball tickets, win a $500 million lottery windfall, and then spend the rest of their miserable lives — and winnings — in court trying to figure out who gets what, including Sally, who called into work sick that day but swears she put her money in the pot. No, Neal and Alhassan actually had a really good plan for two struggling (financially) up-and-coming fighters to maximize their haul.
Then Dana had to go and screw it up.
“I thought it was bullshit, man,” Neal said. “It is what it is, but yeah, it’s bullshit. I felt like that was probably the best finish on the card, you know? There were some solid finishes, and there are a lot of other things in play rather than just the performance, like maybe the toughness of the opponent. Other stuff. Me, I’m an unranked fighter on the prelims, so you get what you get.”
Eat what you kill! Not .... just ask Al Iaquinta.
Let’s be clear: Neal landed a head kick for the ages in his match up with Frank Camacho. And Alhassan put a violent whooping on Niko Price ... and it took him just 43 seconds (recap). Both are badasses, who — in the case of Neal — should not be waiting tables full-time so he can make ends meet and then training mixed martial arts (MMA) on the side.
UFC needs to invest in exciting, up-and-comers like Neal and Alhassan every chance it gets ... like at UFC 228 this past weekend. There’s no reason to not open up the checkbook a wee bit more when fighters deliver extraordinary performances. Because we all know the return for the promotion’s bottom line would be twofold ... and probably a helluva lot more.
Of course, all options are always on the table for UFC.