UFC CEO Dana White fully embraced the “cut-throat” negotiating tactics of his former co-workers, ex-CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and former matchmaker Joe Silva, in a series of leaked emails and text messages.
In a recent report from Anton Tabuena and John S. Nash of BloodyElbow, multiple documents associated with the UFC’s antitrust lawsuit have revealed some of the inner workings of the promotion. In this case, the downright vicious negotiating tactics that Dana White and Co. implemented with some of its top stars.
The first example revealed was related to former WEC and Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. According to the documents, Melendez was primed to jump ship from the UFC to Bellator after competing twice inside the Octagon.
However, Melendez was essentially forced to re-sign with the promotion due to a controversial contract clause. Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta celebrated the victory in a series of text exchanges:
“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.
Documents Show How the UFC Attempted to ‘Lowball’ Nate Diaz During Negotiations
Nate Diaz also found himself fighting for fair pay on more than one occasion. According to the unredacted documents, Joe Silva and Lorenzo Fertitta intentionally “lowballed” Diaz during negotiations and had planned to put him on the prelims portion against “a really tough guy” in what could 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 remained with the promotion, earning $30,000 to show and $30,000 to win in his bout immediately following the above exchange.
Two years later, Diaz would once again enter negotiations with the UFC. Tracy Long, the promotion’s former legal affairs manager, revealed that the ‘Stockton Samurai’ was looking to sign a six-fight deal worth more money in 2012 while he was on the cusp of a lightweight title opportunity.
Initially, the UFC had offered him an eight-fight deal that he had rejected. At that point, Diaz had already competed 16 times for the promotion and spent much of his career on a lower-level contract stemming from his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. He was looking to cash in after putting ample time into the company. Unfortunately, Dana White left him with only three options:
Accept a modified six-fight deal for less money, fight for the title at a rate of $45,000 to show and $45,000 to win, or get pulled from the title fight altogether.
“He should be willing to take less money from us,” Fertitta said, before bringing up Diaz’s multiple performance bonuses from his fights.
Nate Diaz went on to fight then-champion Benson Henderson for the lightweight world title. He walked away with a disclosed fight purse of $50,000. What do you think about the UFC’s questionable negotiating tactics?