The UFC has been under fire for years when it comes to the hot-button issue of fighter pay.
Courtesy of a recent report from Anton Tabuena and John S. Nash of BloodyElbow, we now have a better idea of the promotion’s underhanded negotiating tactics. Perhaps even more disgusting is how some of the UFC’s top dogs, including CEO Dana White, celebrated their victories at the expense of the talent that line their pockets.
This past week, exchanges between White, former UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, and ex-matchmaker Joe Silva were brought to light courtesy of a class action lawsuit filed against the promotion by a slew of past and present fighters, including Cung Le and Jon Fitch. Bloody Elbow was able to obtain many of the newly unsealed emails and text messages, which paint a pretty clear picture of the organization’s sketchy dealmaking.
After the UFC used one of their controversial contract clauses to prevent former Strikeforce and WEC lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez from moving to Bellator, text messages obtained from the lawsuit showed Dana White congratulating Lorenzo Fertitta for maing a “fukn cut throat nasty business” move by blocking Melendez’s jump to Bellator.
“Bro, u know i love u to fukn death as it is but what u pulled off this week with Melendez and “other dude” is fukn BAD ASS! Fukn cut throat nasty business like u see in movies!!” Dana White wrote in a text.
“We gotta keep taking these f*ckers oxygen till they tap out. We have sacrificed too much to let anyone get traction now,” Fertitta responded.
“I agree! U r 100% correct and i LOVE IT,” Dana White responded.
Fertitta confirmed in his deposition that the “other” fighter being discussed was former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
UFC Officials Wanted to Put Nate Diaz’s Last Fight on the Prelims
Recently unredacted emails from Joe Silva and Lorenzo Fertitta showed the pair discussing previous contract negotiations with TUF alumnus Nate Diaz after his representative, Cesar Gracie, looked to secure a better pay rate for his fighter.
The exchange showed how they intentionally “lowballed” Diaz and had planned to put him on the prelims portion of what would have been his last appearance with the promotion.
“Do we let Strikeforce pay him $48,000 + $48,000 or do we give them what they want?” Silva asked White and Fertitta. “He was making 24+24. I offered 27+27 30+30 33+33 36+36.”
“I lowballed them on purpose the first offer knowing they would turn it down. How about I come back with 29+29 32+32 35+35 38+38,” Silva added. “If they turn it down I put him in a prelim against a really tough guy for his last fight.”
Diaz ultimately ended up staying with the UFC. In his fight following this exchange, the ‘Stockton Samurai’ earned $30,000 to show and $30,000 to win.
That was far from the last time Diaz would find himself fighting against the UFC’s shady tactics. Tracy Long, the promotion’s former legal affairs manager, detailed another set of negotiations with Diaz two years later. After returning to 155 and winning three straight fights, Diaz earned himself a lightweight title opportunity against then-champion Benson Henderson.
However, his title shot was held up as Diaz was looking to negotiate a new six-fight deal instead of the longer eight-fight offer that the promotion had proposed. Diaz had already fought an incredible 16 times for the UFC at that point and spent numerous years on a lower-tier deal from his days on The Ultimate Fighter. During the negotiations, Long explained that she wanted to reiterate how removing the last two bouts meant that Diaz would be losing the highest tier payouts which was $100,000 to show.
In the unsealed emails, Long revealed how White told Diaz he only had three options to choose from: Accept the modified six-fight deal, fight for the title at a rate of $45,000 to show and $45,000 to win, or get pulled from the title bout altogether.
“He should be willing to take less money from us,” Fertitta responded, before bringing up Diaz’s multiple performance bonuses from his fights.
In the end, Nate Diaz fought Henderson for the lightweight title two months after the email exchange. He came up short, losing via a unanimous decision. He reportedly earned a disclosed purse of $50,000 for the fight.