Who is to blame in Gil-UFC contract impasse?

February 14, 2014

Dana White has expressed his discontent with the current negotiations with UFC Lightweight Gilbert Melendez and has all but told the former Strikeforce Champion to look elsewhere for work.

On Wednesday’s “UFC Tonight” on FS1, White spoke out about the contract negotiations with Melendez’s representation as the parties are at an impasse with a new deal for Melendez.

Although it was not officially reported how much he made at UFC 166, he did receive a $60K FOTN bonus for his bout with Diego Sanchez.  He did make $175K at UFC on Fox 7 in a loss to Benson Henderson.  One assumes that Melendez would like to improve on his $175K show salary.

Strikeforce Pic of Gil (Via Wikimedia Commons"

Strikeforce Pic of Gil (Via Wikimedia Commons)

The MMA Report brings up a good question: whether a fighter should look for top dollar or the best competition when it comes to deciding where to fight.  There is the example of Ben Askren who was let go by Bellator in order to presumably sign with the UFC.  However, he chose to sign with Singapore-based OneFC where he will make $50K/$50K to start.  Arguably, Askren is one of the top welterweights in the world and has a personality that would make him marketable.  The knock on Askren is that his fight style is not appealing to the casual viewer.  One would think that he would choose the UFC over an overseas company.

When I think of the Ben Askren choice it reminds me of NBA player Josh Childress.  A Stanford alum, he left the NBA after 4 productive years and with an offer to stay in the NBA but decided to make more money in Greece.  But after 2 years, Childress ended back in the NBA and cited issues with getting paid and less amenities overseas as compared to the NBA as reasons he chose to return.  Thus, this is an example of why taking the most money may not be the best for a career.  Of course, MMA differs from basketball if you were to just compare the physical rigors and average shorter career span of a fighter.

One of the underlying issues that may be hampering the negotiations is that Melendez is represented by the same agent as Georges St. Pierre.  As we know, GSP’s departure from the UFC was awkward and may have been less than amicable.  GSP spoke out about drug testing in the UFC which unsurprisingly drew the ire of White.  Is the difficulty in brokering a new contract for Melendez in part due to White’s anger at GSP via his agent?

Then there’s the use of the media in the negotiations.  First, there was White’s public comments on FS1.  Then, in a bit of a surprise, the UFC on Fox twitter account tweeted an article it posted on its Fox Sports web site in which it mocked Melendez for the stalled negotiations.  The article actually admits it has scant information on negotiations but would speculate on the reasons why Melendez has not come to an agreement.

Payout Perspective:

Melendez has a short timeframe to earn as much as he can in a sport where the premise is to inflict maximum pain on your opponent.  This takes a toll on the fighter physically and mentally.  However, the sacrifice is worth it assuming he is compensated enough to take care for himself and his family.  In MMA, it’s unlikely that a contract will make someone set for life but a fighter has the potential to do much better than he would if he or she just had a 9-5 job.  We do not know how much Melendez is asking for but one might assume he wants to make sure he is fairly compensated (in his mind) for his sacrifices.

Like many sports executives, White is negotiating through the press.  Calling out Melendez’s agents is a part of negotiations.  A new wrinkle is the use of Fox Sports to seemingly call out Melendez for not agreeing to a contract.  In other sports, the media produces pieces calling out one side or another in negotiations but the Fox Sports piece is a blatant run at Melendez.  Is it fair?  Should Melendez and his representatives respond with their side of the story?  We shall see.

2 Responses to “Who is to blame in Gil-UFC contract impasse?”

  1. BrainSmasher on February 14th, 2014 5:54 PM

    Gil should get what he can. But imo I think he was already over paid. What has he done lately? I see him struggle in his last 3-4 fights with controversial decisions. He has only had one decisive victory in his last 7 fights. How can anyone justify him being paid what many champions are being paid? He has the option to test the market and see his value. But I think him passing on a competitive offer from the UFC will be a big mistake for him to make.

    Even if by some miracle a rival pays him 250K per fight and say the UFC is at 170K. Is the rival going to give you possible 50K bonus’? His style makes for FOTN candidates. Which gives him a better chance to get those than most people. Being in the UFC also gets you much more sponsorship money and sponsors in general interested in you. Not to mention more fame and notoriety than can reap rewards in other ventures than extends past your fight career. Like gyms or other business you open. Then you have future potential if you keep winning. Where is the big money if you keep winning? IF you become a GSP can the rival pay you GSP money? Can you reach GSP fame when the rival has less viewers? Can you get equal PPV cut potential?

    Unless the UFC offer is blown away by another promotion. Leaving the UFC is very short sighted and suggests a lack of confidence in the fighters own abilities imo.

  2. Logical on February 14th, 2014 6:20 PM

    Dana is just trying to wash his hands after failing to get his way during the contract negotiations, more and more i am beginning to think that Dana White is just a glorified ‘talent relations’ guy. Lately it seems as if he is just f***ing up all the time and being very vocal in his frustrations..

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