One of the questions I have always had about MMA fighters is what is more important, facing the best competition or making the most money?
I have asked several people in mixed martial arts this question and nearly everyone believes they go hand in hand. But do they go hand in hand?
There is no question that the best fighters in the world fight in the UFC and is the place that nearly every fighter wants to fight.
Former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren wanted to be in the UFC after his contract with Bellator expired, but he was unable to get an offer from the organization. With no contract offer coming from the UFC, Askren decided to get the most money he could and signed with the Asian promotion ONE FC. It was been reported that Askren will make $50,000 to show for his first fight in ONE FC and if he wins, he will get another $50,000.
The reason I bring up the question about fighting the best competition or making the most money is due to something that was discussed on last night’s edition of UFC Tonight on Fox Sports 1.
During the segment, “Inside the Octagon,” MMA reporter Ariel Helwani reported that contract negotiations were not going good between the UFC and Gilbert Melendez. Helwani reported that UFC President Dana White was done with Gilbert and how he does not like his manager.
“I’m done with Gilbert,” White told Helwani. “I like Gilbert very much, but I don’t like his manager. Being GSP’s best friend doesn’t make you a good manager. If Gilbert wants to fight in the UFC, he should call Lorenzo [Fertitta] quickly and he also should start looking elsewhere.”
This is not the first time that White has said he is done with a fighter and stated that the fighter will have to deal with Fertitta. The quote from White that sticks out to me is that he does not like Melendez’s manager. He is represented by the same management of Georges St-Pierre and while it’s good for a manager to have a good relationship with the UFC, it’s there job to look out for what is best for their client, not the UFC.
When Melendez entered the UFC last year after being the Strikeforce lightweight champion and considered the best lightweight not in the UFC. He was fighting under his Strikeforce deal and it was reported by MMA Junkie that the former Strikeforce champion earned a disclosed salary of $175,000 for his split decision lost to Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 7 last April. He returned at UFC 166 in October against Diego Sanchez and it’s unknown what his disclosed salary was for that fight.
White also stated that maybe Melendez should “start looking elsewhere,” which made me think about other MMA organizations. In my mind, the only organization that could afford to bring in Melendez would be Bellator, who is considered the top competition for the UFC.
Currently, Bellator has two of the top ten lightweight fighters in the world but current champion Eddie Alvarez is likely to leave the organization after his next fight. Obviously, I realize that a majority of MMA fans want to see Melendez returned to the UFC and make a run at the lightweight title, which is currently held by Anthony Pettis.
However, it’s clear by looking at Melendez’s Twitter page, that he wants to get paid. He retweeted several fans tweets last night, which they will support “El Nino” in whatever he decides to do.
Fighters you have a very small window to earn the most amount of money possible. Do that @GilbertMelendez
— InMyMMAOpinion (@InMyMMAOpinion) February 13, 2014
@GilbertMelendez still riding with you homie weather u stay in ufc or fight else where. Im Team El Nino all day homie
— Jaime Becerra (@jbecerra916) February 13, 2014
— Daniel Barahona (@GlobalSETT) February 13, 2014
— Richard (@UFC_fan_Richard) February 13, 2014
We have no idea how much money the UFC is offering Melendez or how much money is manager is trying to get out of the UFC. Fighters have a very short window to make as much money as they can and as I have always said, I want to see fighters make the most money they can.
Melendez and his management team could use Bellator to get the type of deal they want from the UFC. This happens all the time in other sports. A free agent will go to other teams and see what he is worth. Sometimes a team will overpay for their services and maybe that will happen with Melendez and Bellator. If Melendez were to agree to a contract with Bellator, the UFC would have the ability to match the contract and bring him back to the UFC.
No matter what the business is, having more that one company bidding for your services is a good thing. If you are just negotiating with one company, the likelihood of getting overpaid unlikely.
Only time will tell what Melendez will do, but he may have to decided what is more important to him, fighting the best competition or making the most money.