Mamed Khalidov’s categorising of the UFC’s financial offer to him as “laughable” has caused heads to be scratched at Zuffa headquarters.
The KSW star was offered a four-fight deal by the UFC recently but made public comments about the financial terms being unacceptable to him. He is paid $30,000 per fight in Poland, plus sponsorship, and is slowly edging onto mainstream television chat shows and the like.
“If you look at the conditions for the first and second fight, they are not really acceptable. If they were decent then I would accept. I'm not saying that everyone knows who I am, but I'm not anonymous,” the Chechen-born fighter explains.
“Michael Bisping for one fight gets about $500,000 and is lower in the rankings. I understand that he is a star there and has taken time for the money. On the other hand I can not agree to humiliating terms.
“UFC expects spectacular fights… I have proved by fighting in EliteXC, in the US, in Japan, that I can fight this way (spectacular) and I do not think I need to prove it once again… I know that this is a business but if they do not see me as a player worth big money, it makes no sense to fight there.”
Fighters Only spoke to a source on the Zuffa side who said that Khalidov’s comments were puzzling considering that he was offered a $20,000/$20,000 deal. That means that his first fight, if he won it, would be worth $40,000. If he lost he would get $20,000 - less than his KSW rate but more than UFC newcomers who are unknown in the US.
Khalidov’s management supposedly told the UFC that his overall package had to be higher because the sponsors would not follow him from KSW to the UFC. “That was a strange thing to say,” said the source. “It equates to ‘please pay him more, because nobody wants to sponsor him’ - does that make your fighter sound more attractive or less attractive to a promoter?”
Khalidov has fought once before in North America, stopping Jason Guida in the second round of a 2008 ShoXC event. His remuneration for that fight was not revealed by the Indiana Athletic Commission but ShoXC generally never paid fighters over $10,000. However, the deal with ShoXC/EliteXC was non-exclusive.
He has lost only one of his nine bouts since the Guida win, but that loss was to Jorge Santiago. Former Sengoku champion Santiago struggled when he was twice in the UFC and was released from both contracts, and that isn’t impressive from the Zuffa side. They want to see Khalidov’s form before showering him with gold.
Khalidov’s most recent wins include Jesse Taylor, Matt Lindland and James Irvin - all name opponents, but nothing like the calibre to be found in the UFC middleweight division at present. “With all due respect to Khalidov his claim to be higher in the rankings than Michael Bisping is in itself laughable,” says the source. “Who has he beaten really?”
As of now the offer is still on the table for Khalidov but Fighters Only has learned that the financial terms will not be altered. He can either accept the $20,000/$20,000 four-fight deal or elect to remain with KSW. For Khalidov the choice is problematical because the money and (mainstream) fame presently lies with the KSW side, but he badly wants to test himself in the MMA premier league and the longer he leaves it, the older he gets and so risks passing his peak.
Money can also go up substantially in the UFC with bonuses and spectacular performances. Khalidov fights for the finish and certainly has the potential to light the fans up, so he also has to calculate his chances of finishing the kind of opponents he would likely to be offered in his first appearance for the UFC.
More news as we get it.