It looks like we might now know the reason that delicious Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight match up between Gilbert Melendez and Khabib Nurmagomedov is "not happening."
That's because contract negotiations between current No. 2-ranked Melendez and UFC have reached a logger head, with company president Dana White informing Ariel Helwani on the most recent edition of "UFC Tonight" on FOX Sports 1 that he is "done talking" to Rodolphe Beaulieu, who serves as his manager. And apparently, moonlights as the "best friend" of former, and recently retired, Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
It's an alarming situation that requires the intervention of UFC co-owner, and cool cat, Lorenzo Fertitta, the man who typically strips the drama out of most mixed martial arts (MMA) contract negotiations (see Belfort, Vitor).
Or else Melendez can "start looking elsewhere" (via Helwani):
"It's not looking good. I spoke to UFC President Dana White yesterday. He said, 'I'm done with Gilbert. I like Gilbert very much, but I don't like his manager.' He has the same manager as GSP. Dana said: 'Being GSP's best friend doesn't make you a good manager.' Dana said if Gilbert wants to fight in the UFC, he should call Lorenzo quickly and he also should start looking elsewhere."
No one's ever accused White of pulling punches when speaking his mind. Fortunately for Melendez, Fertitta is often the velvet glove behind the straightforward bluntness of UFC's front man.
The manager in question, Beaulieu, who also manages the aforementioned St-Pierre, certainly has first-hand knowledge about how well relations between UFC and that particular person has been lately; therefore, it's not a shock that perhaps that's had some spill-over into other dealings.
Nonetheless, as mentioned earlier, UFC had originally planned to have Melendez face undefeated No. 7-ranked ranked Nurmagomedov at what is rapidly becoming a disastrously looking thin UFC 170, but that fight was canceled without much explanation.
It's not too surprising that UFC is having serious contract disparities with the former Strikeforce champion, considering that most of those who made the transition from the now-defunct promotion to the Octagon were generally paid more than their major league worth.
For example, witness the rough patch that its having with $300,000 man Alistair Overeem for further speculation on that level.
Melendez was reportedly earning $175,000 to show, at least according to disclosed UFC on FOX 7 salaries (see them here). For comparison's sake, former UFC Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos' last reported disclosed pay (at UFC 160) was $120,000 to show/$120,000 to win. A few other Strikeforce fighters with large deals include Robbie Lawler ($83,000/$83,000), Tyron Woodley ($52,000/$52,000) and Daniel Cormier ($63,000/$63,000).
One would think that White would be more willing to shelve out a few extra dollars to the man who took then-lightweight champion Ben Henderson to the limit, and then backed it up with a "Fight of the Year" candidate with Diego Sanchez that White praised to the high heavens.
"In the 13 years of being in this company, we've seen some amazing fights," White effused at the post-fight press conference following the rock-'em, sock-'em battle. "I don't think I've ever seen a fight like that. That fight was insane."
Not insane enough, though, to meet Beaulieu's demands.