Jorge Masvidal Accuses Dana White of 'Strong Arming' UFC Contract Negotiations

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2020

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 16:  UFC welterweight Jorge Masvidal interacts with the media during the UFC 246 Ultimate Media Day at UFC APEX on January 16, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Chris Unger/Getty Images

Jorge Masvidal once again spoke about what he believes is an unequal power dynamic when it comes to UFC's contract structure.  

On June 7, Masvidal said the company uses a "take it or leave it" approach to negotiations, and then a fighter remains on shaky footing even after signing a new contract:

Jorge Masvidal UFC @GamebredFighter

I’m in a contract that I had to take to get paid. Same way I got a new contract to fight till. Then a new contract to fight Nate. They keep extending the amounts of fights to my contract to keep me locked up and when I say I only want a 4 fight contract it’s take it or leave it.

Jorge Masvidal UFC @GamebredFighter

Why are all the major names having issues? Conor, Jones, cejudo. We have to take it or retire. I love fighting and this is the fight of our lives

He echoed those thoughts Sunday, saying UFC President Dana White was "strong arming" during the negotiating process:

Jorge Masvidal UFC @GamebredFighter

I already explained why I signed a new deal. It’s either take it or leave it and not get paid. I would’ve signed another deal if it was done in good faith. He called me night before he wants to announce and tell me take or it leave it. That’s not negotiating that’s strong arming

UFC announced Kamaru Usman will defend the welterweight championship against Gilbert Burns at UFC 251 on July 11. According to ESPN's Ariel Helwani, the company selected Burns after failing to come to terms with Masvidal for the fight.

During a press conference on Friday, White alluded to the breakdown with Masvidal's representatives.

"Listen, I'm putting on fights every weekend for the next 10 years," he said, per MMA Junkie's Danny Segura. "If you want to fight, call us. We'll offer you fights, and if you don't want to take them, you don't have to. It's always been that way."

MMA Junkie @MMAjunkie

Are you surprised that Jorge Masvidal (@GamebredFighter) isn't fighting for the welterweight title? Because Dana White apparently is not. #UFC251 | More: https://t.co/RiBaYa63TM https://t.co/iFpuPM3kZu

Masvidal isn't the first prominent star to make public his frustration over how UFC compensates and treats its fighters.

Conor McGregor retired altogether earlier this month and told Helwani he had grown upset with what he thought to be an aggressive approach toward booking his next opponent:

"I don't know. It's just crazy. I was cutting to 155, and then because I asked for 155, they wanted to show power and stomp all over me. I don't know why they do this. But it was taken from me and then pushed back. So then I'm thinking I don't want to be cutting if I'm fighting at 170. I have to be careful here. My body has to be correct to the weight. And then the 176 [Silva] talk. I'm just over it, man."

Jon Jones is in a protracted standoff with UFC and sent a series of tweets detailing how he felt UFC was "ripping me off throughout my entire 20s":

Jon Bones Jones @JonnyBones

Do you not listen to Dana? Almost every interview he mentions how the UFC are breaking new records and are at an all-time high. Dana mentioned I want Wilder money, meanwhile over the entirety of my career I haven’t even made a quarter of that. https://t.co/Vtrf2UsNd1

Jon Bones Jones @JonnyBones

I’m not even asking for backpay for ripping me off throughout my entire 20s. Just wanted to be treated fair moving forward

Jon Bones Jones @JonnyBones

Advice while you Young fighters, if you’re hot right now. Get paid. As much as the Ufc is building your brand, you are building their’s. If you think your biggest paydays will come after being with the company for a while. You are wrong.

Jon Bones Jones @JonnyBones

I fought mega fight after mega fight throughout my early 20s for under 2million a fight. Who knows what I’m actually owed, makes me feel like a fool even thinking about it

UFC is the biggest MMA company in the world, which undoubtedly gives it a lot of leverage during any contract and fight negotiations. That said, alienating some of its biggest stars could backfire spectacularly for a company that has struggled to elevate younger fighters in recent years.

If McGregor remains retired, then it would be a hit to UFC's bottom line. Taking a hard line with Jones and Masvidal, to the point one or both leaves, would compound the issues further.