Of course, being that Melendez *was* able to reach an agreement with the UFC after calling their bluff, it comes as something of a surprise that former lightweight title challenger Nate Diaz is now asking to be released from his contract. But that’s what happened yesterday, unless Diaz’s Twitter was somehow hacked. Diaz sent out the above tweet last night, stating “It’s time for me to be on my way…?” This of course, can only mean one of four things:
MMA contracts are unique among professional sports, in the sense that long-term agreements aren’t necessarily beneficial to the athletes. The deals that Cormier and Sanchez signed with the UFC bear absolutely no resemblance to the 15-year, $67.5 million dollar “lottery ticket” that NHL goalie Rick DiPietro signed in 2006. After failing to live up to expectations, DiPietro’s contract was bought out in 2013, at $1.5 million a year for the next 16 years.
That’s what a contract is, after all — an employer’s obligation to pay a certain amount of money for services rendered. What the UFC offers its fighters is something different. It’s like a contract, but not exactly, and it results from the uniquely lopsided power structure in this sport, where there’s essentially one major-league team and no player’s union.
In MMA if you fail to live up to expectations and lose fights, your contract can simply be terminated at any time, and for a variety of reasons. When Eddie Alvarez‘s contract was made public, outsiders got a chance to see the long list of scenarios in which the UFC can cut an athlete loose. As the article’s author Jonathan Snowden notes “So, all those UFC contracts that claim to be for eight or 10 fights? That’s only true if you keep winning. Otherwise, the contract is only as long as the UFC wants it to be.”
A quote from that article, from Northwestern University labor law professor Zev Eigen, shows how imbalanced contracts are for UFC fighters:
On July 6th, top-ranked UFC middleweight contender Chris Weidman will return from a year-long layoff to challenge Anderson Silva, considered by many to be the greatest mixed martial artist who’s ever lived. It goes without saying that the UFC 162 main event is the greatest test of Weidman’s career — and one that would make most middleweights more than a little nervous — but the Long Island-bred “All-American” isn’t the least bit intimidated. And he knows exactly how he’s going to steal the belt that Anderson’s held for six-and-a-half years.
CagePotato reporter Brian J. D’Souza caught up with Weidman recently at Grants MMA Gym in Toronto, and got his take on a number of interesting subjects, including his gameplan for the Spider, the rib injury that spurred his foray into MMA, his surprising contract status with the UFC, and more. Some highlights:
Why he hasn’t signed a new contract with the UFC yet: “I’m not looking to negotiate an extra couple grand right before a title fight. My goal is to be champion, and I know that’s where you get the real money. That’s where you get the ‘Anderson Silva money,’ so that’s what I’m looking to get.”
How he’ll beat Silva: “I think the biggest thing is once you get him down, to stay relaxed and not to be so tense. I think I have a pretty smooth, aggressive game, and I’m pretty relentless with my cardio, and that’s one of my things that I have most pride in. So, I feel like I’m going to have the cardio to where he’s going to break before I break. I’m going to be all over him.”
Anderson’s mind games: “One of Anderson’s Silva’s best traits in MMA is that he gets inside people’s heads. Before they even step in the cage, he has a certain mystique about him that intimidates people. He earned that over the years. But even when they get in the cage with him, he makes sure to make them feel as if he’s on a whole ‘nother level. And then he waits for them to believe him in that, and he freakin’ mentally and physically breaks them…I’m just going to be confident. I’m not going to be worried about what he’s doing, I’m worried about what I’m doing.”
(In the words of my life coach, “If you ask me one more fucking question about that fucking joke Eddie Alvarez, I will fuck you like you’ve never been fucked before.”)
The drama continues to unfold in the Eddie Alvarez/UFC/Bellator love triangle that last saw Bjorn Rebney and Co. break go Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer on their former lightweight champion’s ass. And as Bill Shakespeare would tell you himself, no love triangle would be complete without a little dash of comedy. Enter Rebney, who recently attempted to shed some light on the convoluted goatscrew that (Bellator) negotiations oft become in a recent interview with BloodyElbow radio. When Rebney previously told reporters that he had matched the UFC’s offer on Alvarez “word for word,” the general consensus seemed to be that Rebney was simply speaking in hyperbole, for how could Bellator match the pay-per-view stipulations of the UFC’s contract when they don’t in fact broadcast pay-per-view events to begin with?
Well, it turns out that — at least according to the man himself — Rebney was not tugging our respective dicks when he said “word for word”:
I didn’t anticipate that the UFC would come in where they came in. They came in at a dollar figure in terms of the $250,000 signing bonus and the $70,000 plus $70,000 and some of the terms that we felt very comfortable matching. To avoid any questioning, to avoid any conflict, we literally took the UFC contract, took it out of a PDF format and we changed the UFC name to Bellator and we signed it and we sent it back to Ed.
Call me unrealistic, but I’d like to believe that Rebney signed his name in poo, or at least wiped his ass with the reprinted contract before sending it back to Eddie. And then when Alvarez flipped to the last page of this foul smelling document, there was a photo of Rebney, performing said act of asswhipery. Because those are the kinds of shenanigans that people who don’t give a fuck are wont to do.
In a new report about Eddie Alvarez’s impending free-agency, MMAFighting.com got Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney to share details of a similar situation in which his promotion got into a bidding war with the UFC. It happened six months ago with their former middleweight champ Hector Lombard, and in that case, it didn’t exactly work out for either party:
Lombard hit the open market, where he was immediately offered a lucrative deal with the UFC. Rebney said that contract, which according to him paid Lombard a $400,000 signing bonus, a $300,000 starting purse per fight and pay-per-view participation points, was cost-prohibitive from Bellator’s standpoint.
If the UFC came in with a similar offer for Alvarez, who is considered by most observers to be right around the top five lightweights in the world, it is believed that would make him the highest-paid 155-pounder in the UFC. On the other hand, Lombard’s debut in the UFC was considered a disappointment, as he lost a lackluster split-decision to Tim Boetsch. That development could cause the UFC to reconsider a big-money offer for another free agent.
- Diaz has signed a new eight-fight deal with Zuffa, which allows him to fight for both the UFC and Strikeforce. But the plan for Diaz isn’t necessarily to jump back and forth between promotions. Asked if the new deal marked the end of Diaz’s run in Strikeforce, Gracie replied, “Hopefully. If he’s back in Strikeforce, I would imagine that’s because he lost his next fight.”