Emails show the UFC punished Jon Jones for declining a rematch, almost took away Nate Diaz's title shot, and other "cut-throat, nasty" tactics
The UFC is undeniably the biggest MMA promotion in the world today and has many of the sport's biggest superstars on its roster. While the organization went through a rough patch in the beginning, it is a multi-billion dollar company today and has cemented itself as the most powerful entity in the sport.
Given the scope of its influence, it's no surprise that some UFC executives have recently come under fire for their questionable negotiation practices and strong-arm tactics when dealing with fighters. The ongoing Le v. Zuffa LLC anti-trust lawsuit revealed some startling details about the organization's methods.
For context, the suit has been filed by a group of fighters who are suing the promotion for "anti-competitive business practices" between 2011 and 2016. Over the past few weeks, the lawsuit brought some inter-executive communications to light via unsealed emails and text messages.
A recent report by Bloody Elbow broke down some of these communications, shedding light on the promotion's negotiation practices and methods. The report showed how the promotion undervalued Nate Diaz and threatened to take away his title shot if he didn't accept their contract renewal deal.
Another shocking revelation was that UFC superstar Jon Jones wasn't immune to such treatment. In 2014, promotional executives asked Jones to fight Alexander Gustafsson in a title rematch, knowing he'd refuse. A leaked conversation showed that Lawrence Epstein and Michael Mersch planned to extend his contract if and when 'Bones' refused to fight the Swede.
Leaked UFC emails: Report shows Dana White congratulating Lorenzo Fertitta for "cut-throat" negotiations
In the same report, it was revealed that current UFC CEO Dana White once celebrated the promotion's former CEO Lorenzo Fertitta using some heavy-handed tactics and controversial contract clauses to prevent former lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez from moving to Bellator.
As mentioned, the ongoing anti-trust lawsuit against the MMA giant has revealed some damning emails and text messages shared among the organization's top brass. Among those, a text exchange between White and Fertitta showed them discussing the Melendez deal. White wrote:
"Bro, u know I love u to f***ing death as it is, but what u pulled off this week with Melendez and “other dude” is f***ing BAD A**! F***ing cutthroat nasty business like u see in movies!!”
"We gotta keep taking these f***ers oxygen till they tap out. We have sacrificed too much to let anyone get traction now."
White wrote back:
"I agree! U r 100% correct, and I LOVE IT."
During his deposition, Lorenzo Fertitta confirmed that the "other fighter" mentioned was former 155-pound champion Eddie Alvarez.