Vera's Management Dispute Provides Rare Glimpse Into UFC Negotiations

March 27, 2008

Brandon Vera’s dispute with his former manager, Mark Dion, was recently settled in an arbitration hearing before the California State Athletic Commission. The commission ruled in Dion’s favor and the entire affair is documented on Dion’s website, CityBoxing.com. The myriad of documents made available by Dion provide a rare public glimpse into the UFC’s negotiation tactics.

The entire affair was detailed by the Canadian Press. The highlights:

  • Vera’s second three-fight UFC deal (renegotiated prior to the expiration of his original contract) started at $16,000/$16,000 (win bonus), $20,000/$20,000, and $24,000/$24,000. The deal also included a $100,000 signing bonus.
  • Two fights into that deal, following Vera’s knockout of Frank Mir at UFC 65 in November 2006, the UFC approached Dion to negotiate a long term deal. The UFC flew Dion to Las Vegas to meet with Dana White. White gave Dion two offers on a post-it note:
    • A three fight deal at $90,000/$90,000, $100,000/$100,000, and $115,000/$115,000 with an automatic upgrade to $150,000/$150,000, $170,000/$170,000, $185,000/$185,000 provided Vera became Heavyweight Champion, or
    • A four year deal worth $7 million. Dion testified that White made a verbal offer of a $100,000 bonus if Vera won the title.
  • Dion told the CSAC that the post-it note was standard operating practice:
    • “UFC doesn’t send no letters, period. They’ve tried to avoid all that stuff… This is all I got from Dana White. This is all I could show to Mr. Vera. There was no e-mails. Dana White likes to keep – keep himself covered on all aspects.”
  • Dion made an admittedly outrageous counter offer three days later in an effort to move negotiations. The two options presented were:
    • A one-year three-fight contract at $150,000/$150,000, $175,000/$175,000, and $200,000/$200,000 with a $1.5 million signing bonus, or
    • A guaranteed three-year ten-fight contract worth a total of $9 million ($3 million per year) plus a $1.5 million signing bonus. Vera would also receive a $1 million bonus if undefeated at the end of each year.
  • In response, Joe Silva, VP of Talent Relations, offered a three fight deal at $50,000/$50,000, $60,000/$60,000, and $70,000/$70,000, escalating to $90,000/$90,000, $100,000/$100,000, and $110,000/$110,000 if Vera became champion along with a $100,000 signing bonus.
  • Dion rejected the offer in an email to White at 4:46 PM on December 26. At 7:16 PM the UFC replies, saying it is exercising its right to extend the contract by three months per Vera’s refusal to fight in June due to injury.
  • Dion informs the company that Vera was never injured and was ready to fight as soon as possible. He hires a lawyer in January to contest the company’s three month contract extension.
  • In March Vera tells the UFC not to deal with Dion anymore.
  • Vera’s attempted to void his management contract with Dion goes to arbitration in September, claiming he was never informed of the $100,000 signing bonus offer.
  • In October, after an 11-month layoff, Vera returns to the UFC in a loss to Tim Sylvia with a reported purse of $100,000.
  • The CSAC ruled in Dion’s favor earlier this month, finding no illegal conduct,but severed the management contract (which ran through 2010) due to deterioration of their relationship.
  • Dion received one-third of the Sylvia fight purse as well as $100,000 in consideration of future fight purses.
  • Garcia said: “It seems to the arbitrator that the ambiguity of the Post-it note, which appears to be the root of the current dispute, could have been avoided if the UFC had put their offer in the form of a proposed contract and sent it to (the) manager.”

Vera subsequently re-signed with the UFC and will face Fabricio Werdum at UFC 85.

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