Former Strikeforce 135lb woman’s champion Marloes Coenen has thrown herself headlong into a dispute between her former employers Zuffa and her management team Golden Glory.
Earlier this week Coenen was amongst a group of Golden Glory fighters released by Zuffa. Coenen’s inclusion in that group was hard to fathom given that she is one of female MMA’s biggest stars and had only just lost her title, but yesterday UFC president Dana White appeared to clarify the situation when he implied that it was Golden Glory’s business dealing that were behind the move.
“The bottom line is the way they do business is, you have to pay them, not the fighters,” White said. “We don’t work that way. It’s not the way we do business. It’s not how it works in the United States with the athletic commissions. You don’t pay the managers and the managers pay the fighters. You pay the fighters and the fighters pay the managers.
“They won’t do it. We have to pay them, not the fighters.”
That was far from the end of the matter however as later in the day Coenen herself tweeted a picture of a cheque she received directly from Forza LLC (a subsiduary of Zuffa) for her fight with Miesha Tate on Saturday night, appearing to contradict White’s statement.
That’s forced White to clarify his initial statement further, noting that they have insisted on paying the fighters, but that behind-the-scenes it’s caused a level of friction with Golden Glory that’s become unacceptable.
“Even when we did the deal with Einemo (another Golden Glory fighter cut earlier this week), we told them, ‘We’re paying the fighters,'” White revealed to MMAjunkie. “Even though they agreed to the deal, they later came out and were flipping out during the event wanting to change the deal.'”
I’m still not convinced we’re getting the full story here. It seems a little too coincidental that this argument has suddenly blown up just a matter of days after another Golden Glory fighter Alistair Overeem became involved in a seperate dispute with Zuffa over the timing of his next fight which ultimately lead to him pulling out of the Strikeforce heavyweight GP and was subsequently dismissed from the promotion.
That seems to have been the catalyst for this current situation to blow up. Having said that, while I still feel it’s unfair to the fighters like Coenen who are effectively being used as pawns by Zuffa in this situation when the real problem isn’t with them, Golden Glory also are culpable here.
If they truely have their fighters best interests at heart then why not just agree to let the fighters be paid directly? By not agreeing to this standard practice they are not only shooting themselves in the foot, but also damaging the prospects of their fighters too.
Hopefully cooler heads can prevail and this situation can be sorted out before any bridges are permanantly burned.