A 39-year-old Anderson Silva has just torn up his remaining 7-fight contract with the UFC and renegotiated for a new 15-fight deal.
Contracts in the sport of MMA are notoriously one-sided. In 2013, Eddie Alvarez Tweeted a link to a PDF-version of his UFC contract. Northwestern University labor law professor Zev Eigen called it the worst he’d seen in the sports or entertainment fields. For instance, the agreement included a “completely one-sided” provision that allowed the UFC to terminate Alvarez at will. According to Eigen, the arrangement was “completely unfair and seems to suggest that any term is a material term for purposes of the employer. Every breach could be a material breach for the fighter, but nothing is for the UFC. There’s an argument there that it’s unconscionable and unenforceable.” But the arrangement is commonplace in the sport, and explains why lengthy contracts are sometimes prematurely terminated without consequence by an organization when a fighter has a couple bad outings.
The exact terms of Silva’s contract are unknown. But assuming the UFC has retained that standard ability to terminate Silva at will if he continues to lose fights, one wonders how he benefitted from agreeing to such a lengthy contract extension when he already had a shorter one in place. Silva fought in the UFC for the first time in 2006. Over the next 8 years, he fought 18 times, averaging a little over 2.25 fights a year. Assuming Silva maintains that rhythm, it will take him a little over six and a half years to complete his contract.
According to Silva, he had dinner with Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White last Thursday. In an interview with Combate.com, he said he signed the new deal “To make Dana crazy . . . And to make my family crazy, too.” It is unknown if Silva involved an attorney in the decision, or if he spontaneously signed the contract after an intimate dinner. Perhaps he received something important in exchange for the extended term. It is difficult to imagine he was successful in negotiating a pay increase, given he has lost his last two fights, but stranger things have happened.