Silva rules cage and Twitter, earns social media bonuses

The Canadian Press

11/8/2011 1:08:00 PM

LAS VEGAS -- UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA. And now the Brazilian can add Twitter bonus boy to his list of accomplishments.

The UFC awarded Silva a pair of bonuses after the first quarter of its new Twitter incentive campaign.

He got US$5,000 for most followers (604,511) and $5,000 for biggest increase in followers (106.5 per cent).

Silva's tweets are mostly in Portuguese although he did offer up "Good morning, everyone! Have a nice tuesday!"

Brazilian fighters won eight of the 12 bonuses, showing the growing popularity of the sport there.

Launched in May, the UFC program divided fighters into four categories based on number of followers as of June 1, the beginning of the quarter.

Prizes are given out for most total followers at the end of the quarter, biggest increase in followers, and most creative use of Twitter.

Other winners for most followers were heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (176,852), middleweight Demian Maia (69,792) and Strikeforce women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (12,252).

Nogueira (290 per cent) and Maia (157 per cent) also won bonuses for biggest increase in followers, as did welterweight Paulo Thiago (301 per cent).

Former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, lightweights Joe Lauzon and Ben Henderson, and bantamweight Joseph Benavidez won the most creative bonuses.

Griffin, who has written two best-selling books, tweeted when told about the win: "Irony: found out on twitter I won a prize for tweeting."

Lauzon announced his UFC 136 fight with Melvin Guillard and correctly predicted how it would end.

Henderson tweeted during the UFC 133 pre-fight conference call, also taking questions from fans during the call.

Benavidez held a Twitter contest asking fans to suggest and then vote on a new nickname. The finalists were "The Juice Box," "President Jobama," "The Jomosapien," and "The Beefcake."

UFC president Dana White, long a fan of Twitter, could argue he deserves his own bonus.

He had more than 1.4 million followers when he announced the incentive program in May. He now has more than 1.69 million.

The Twitter bonus plan will cost the UFC $240,000 a year.

NOTES @-- Welterweight Ryan McGillivray, whose first 10 fights were in the Maximum Fighting Championship, is returning to the MFC. McGillivray's first action will be Jan. 27 at "MFC 32: Bitter Rivals" in his native Edmonton. McGillivray's (11-5-1) is coming off a loss to Shamar Bailey in June in the live finale to Season 13 of "The Ultimate Fighter." ... Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko takes on Jeff Monson on Nov. 20 in Moscow. ... The DVD version of "UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami" was released Tuesday, as was "UFC Ultimate Knockouts 9."