Yas Island — After months of back and forth negotiations which ultimately resulted in him losing his title fight opportunity against Kamaru Usman, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal has officially saved the card for UFC 251, and he is now scheduled to fight Usman after all.
Masvidal officially lost his opportunity to fight for the title next after Gilbert Burns, who’s been on a tear ever since moving up to the welterweight division, defeated former champ, Tyron Woodley, and told the UFC that he would be willing to fight Usman next, and that he didn’t care about the money, he just wanted the opportunity to fight for the title.
However on Fri., June 3, just eight days before UFC 251, Burns was forced out of the fight after testing positive for the Coronavirus.
That same night, the UFC reached out to Masvidal’s management team to try to get a deal done and save the UFC 251 main event. But after about a day of negotiations, the UFC and Masvidal’s team were able to come to terms on a deal at around 7-8 PM, Saturday night. Although it wasn’t the exact number that Masvidal asked for, he says they came as close as possible to matching the deal, and he’s happy with that.
“Friday night is when the (UFC) called me. Saturday, the deal was in place. So yeah, maybe Saturday around 7-8 PM is when the fight was becoming a reality,” Masvidal told ESPN.
When the UFC initially reached out to Masvidal’s team, they were still far apart in the negotiations, according to Masvidal.
Although he didn’t name anyone in particular, Masvidal appeared to be hinting at the fact that even though a deal was reached, the UFC and Dana White in particular were not too happy about what they had to do to get the fight done.
“We had to break the (UFC) down,” Masvidal told ESPN. “That’s why some people (didn’t) seem too happy as they were announcing it. They didn’t want to talk about it too much, you could see it in their face a little bit of anger and anguish. But I’m gonna do my job always which is provide for me and my family, I (don’t) care what anybody says.”
Here is the interview ESPN did with Dana White that Masvidal seems to be referring to:
Even though White seems to be agitated with how negotiations went, Masvidal believes that he isn’t asking for anything that he doesn’t fully deserve or hasn’t earned over the course of his career.
“I’ve been in this business (for) a while,” Masvidal told ESPN. “I know what I generate, we know what we generate. It’s a numbers game, and the numbers are there. It’s not, ‘I think I deserve this,’ no. I see on paper what I bring in, (and) my team and I know what I deserve, you know? So when we got undercut and low balled, alright cool, no problem. I told my manager, I told several people, I go, ‘guys aren’t gonna like that they’re fucking with me. Watch at the last moment they’re probably gonna call me back and some craziness is gonna happen.’ And sure enough, bam it happened. Now I didn’t get exactly what I wanted but I did get very, very close to it, so I’m taking the fight.”
“So, moving forward after this fight, they’re gonna treat me accordingly or I’ll just step in last minute (with) six days to go and get paid then I guess, you know? If this is the new scheme I have to do, then whatever,” he said.
Although the amount of fights on a deal don’t mean much these days, Masvidal says that he signed a new 10-fight deal with the promotion.
As for the relationship with UFC president, Dana White, Masvidal says he doesn’t necessarily have one with him, and that he lets his management team handle things like that.
“I don’t talk to Dana, my management talks to Dana. I don’t have anything personal against Dana but that’s not my job. I pay my management lots of money to handle these things, and they know it. And so, I don’t feel (like) I should be doing that. That’s not my job. I talk to my management everyday but I don’t need to talk to anybody over there, it’s pointless for me. I dont need to be your friend or your enemy, all you need to do is pick up the phone when my management calls, and that’s it, get the deal done. I don’t need to talk to nobody like that,” he told ESPN.
Here’s Masvidal’s entire ESPN interview with Ariel Helwani below: