Masvidal to UFC on contract dispute: ‘Let me go’

For the second straight week, the UFC is sparring with one of its biggest stars.

Jorge Masvidal, one of MMA’s hottest names, took to Twitter on Friday to air his grievances over the breakdown of contract talks with the UFC. Masvidal was supposed to challenge Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight title in July, but negotiations have fallen apart. Last week, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones asked for his release and Monday he said he would relinquish his title.

“I’m not an independent contractor if I can’t go anywhere else to make a living,” Masvidal wrote. “Let me go and let me see if I’m worth it.”

Jones and Masvidal are both represented by the Kawa brothers, Malki and Abe, of First Round Management.

Masvidal is coming off a third-round TKO win over Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in November, which won him the mythical BMF title at Madison Square Garden. “Gamebred,” as Masvidal is known, was ESPN’s Male Fighter of the Year for 2019. He knocked out Darren Till, Ben Askren and Diaz in an eight-month span.

Usman vs. Masvidal would have been one of the most anticipated title fights of 2020. On Twitter, Masvidal wrote that the UFC offered him “half” of what he got to fight Diaz for the Usman fight.

“I fought in backyards and those dudes never disrespected me the way I’m being now,” Masvidal wrote.

UFC president Dana White told reporters Friday afternoon after the UFC 250 weigh-ins that other sports are currently negotiating with players over salary cuts over a pandemic-shortened season and “everybody wants more money.”

“You don’t have to fight,” White said. “Anybody that doesn’t want to fight doesn’t have to fight. Including Masvidal and Jon Jones and all these other guys. And it doesn’t have to be because of a pandemic. These guys are independent contractors. … We’re not begging people to fight.”

Masvidal responded on Twitter that White should not compare the UFC to other leagues, which pay players “half the revenue they generate.” UFC fighters do not have a union.

“We are negotiating from like what 12% to maybe 18% of revenue we generate?” Masvidal said. “We are negotiating down from way under. … I don’t get paid on the hot dog you sell in the arena or the logo on the cage. I’ve never made a dollar on a ticket you sell. I get punched in the face for a living and even I know the pandemic or what’s left of it has nothing to do with it.”

Regarding Jones, White said the two have not yet spoken and he has had “plenty” of disagreements with Jones in the past. Jones is arguably the greatest fighter in UFC history.

“Jon Jones is in my opinion the best to ever do it,” White said. “Let him take some time and we’ll get it figured out.”