Dana White looks over Lyoto Machida’s should during a news conference. The two are at odds over Machida’s salary demands. (QMI Agency)
BY NEIL SPRINGER, QMI AGENCY
FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2011 8:16:30 EDT PM
TORONTO - It isn’t hard to tell when Dana White is angry about something.
The brash UFC president is not known for biting his tongue or turning the other cheek.
So when White hopped on a media conference call for UFC 133 earlier this week, he got fired up right around the moment Lyoto Machida’s name was mentioned.
Not surprisingly, money was at the root of White’s verbal barrage. Here’s the deal, according to White:
Machida verbally agreed to fight Rashad Evans after Tito Ortiz initially turned down the idea of replacing injured Phil Davis in the UFC 133 main event.
White says he contacted Machida’s camp to later confirm the details and was told the former light-heavyweight champion wanted the same pay as training partner and current middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva.
White was blown away.
“When you make these kinds of phone calls, you know the guys that are going to be tough (to deal with),” White said. “Never do I expect to have a guy accept the fight and then call him back and he says, ‘Yeah, you’re going to have to pay me Anderson Silva money.’ It’s not even like their camp came back and said ‘We want this and extra this or that.’ They came straight out and said they want Anderson Silva money.
“Anderson Silva has been undefeated in the UFC since 2006. He’s broken every record there is in the UFC. He moved up a weight class and beat two guys at 205 easily. (He’s) dominated and cleaned out an entire 185-pound division – and you want his money?
“I don’t even know how to put a word on that.”
White said he never expected that kind of hard-ball tactic from Machida.
“(It was) completely out of the ordinary,” White said. “This guy’s been terrorizing me — ‘I want to fight and I want to fight as much as I possibly can.’
And then we call him for this fight and that’s the response. It really caught me off guard.
“I just think it’s completely disrespectful and a slap in the face to us, and to Anderson Silva. Very weird and very unlike Lyoto Machida.”
How much Silva makes per fight isn’t public information. The UFC discloses each fighter’s purse to the athletic commissions, as well as their contractual win bonuses. That information is then released by the commission, depending on state or provincial laws.
The UFC also announces all money awarded for fight night bonuses.
For his stunning first-round destruction of Vitor Belfort in February, Silva’s purse was $200,000 U.S. He did not earn a win bonus, but did take home $75,000 more for Knockout of the Night.
However, what goes on behind closed doors is a different story entirely. Fighters often get undisclosed bonuses based on their performances. A main-event fighter like Silva also likely earns a chunk of the live gate and pay-per-view revenue.
Though Machida is no longer a titleholder, he may well have some similar provisions in his contract with the UFC.
In an interview with Sherdog.com, Machida confirmed he asked for the salary increase.
“At first I was excited to be in the lineup,” Machida said. “But, after meeting with my team, we saw that it wouldn’t be a good idea, especially because Dana White wanted me to travel to the U.S. immediately to have my training camp there. Many of the members of my corner don’t have visas right now. Then, I said, ‘If you want me to fight, pay me as a champion. Pay me like you pay Anderson Silva.’
“It’s not like I can’t train in Belem, but ‘pack your stuff and go to the U.S.,’ that takes money and time. It’s a professional relationship. Everything is business and people need to split things. I hope the UFC won’t harm me. It’s got to be 100% with me and them. I want to respect the promotion, my fans and myself. That was my main cause for turning down that fight.”
Machida also admitted to suffering a minor elbow injury in training and a poor performance against Evans would mean more than just losing a fight.
“I can’t put my career at risk with a bad showing,” Machida said. “I think I’d have more to lose than to win in that fight. I have a name in the company. I don’t fight without being prepared, even when I lose. I can’t step in and take the chance of having a bad fight. Today, you have to be extremely prepared.”
During the conference call, and prior to Machida's interview hitting the web, White said if there were other issues at play preventing Machida from accepting the fight, he would have listened.
But as it stands, White feels Machida and his management team chose the wrong approach.
“I’m disappointed in the way they handled it,” White said. “Listen, all you you’ve got to tell me is, ‘I’m not ready.’
“There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Can I get this? Can I get that? I’m taking this thing on short notice.’ But to call and say, ‘I want Anderson Silva money and I’ll take this fight.’ What makes you think you deserve Anderson Silva money? You haven’t accomplished anywhere near what Anderson Silva has accomplished.”
THIS AND THAT
Middleweights Chris Leben and Chael Sonnen both texted White that they’d be willing to step up and face Evans … Speaking of Sonnen, Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic finally returned fire after countless insults, calling the fighter “a child,” among other things. Always ready with a comeback, Sonnen took to Twitter: “Mirko, ol’ buddy! Strong words from someone who's been carried out more often than Chinese food!” … Since getting fired from the UFC for high testosterone levels due to hormone replacement therapy, Nate Marquardt has been getting slammed by fighters like B.J. Penn, Hector Lombard, Paul Daley and Ben Askren. Marquardt recently told MMA Junkie he’ll take on anyone, anywhere. “I’ve taken note as to who those guys are, and I’m going to come for them. Eventually, I’ll get them. I don’t care if it’s in a superfight or if they want to come down to my gym. I’ll beat them up for free.”