Matt Mitrione created a stir on Saturday night when he fired his manager live on Spike TV after defeating Joey Beltran in his preliminary bout at UFC 119.
Backstage Mitrione explained that First Round Management’s Malki Kawa had only pulled together $5,000 in sponsorship money for his fight despite it being on TV, and that Kawa had also disrespected his wife, telling her that it was none of her business.
On yesterday’s MMA Hour radio show Ariel Helwani gave Kawa, who also manages rising UFC star Jon Jones, a platform to voice his side of the story.
“I’m not upset that he got mad that it was only $5,000, but there were certain things I was bringing to the table that would have gotten him at a certain number and he would have been pretty happy had I been able to handle the whole thing A to Z,” Kawa said of the situation.
“I’m just mad at the fact that he didn’t give me to the opportunity to explain to him some of the process that has happened and what’s gone down and why his numbers weren’t 10-15,000 but only $5,000.”
According to Kawa a prior deal done with Hitman Fight Gear before he became Mitrione’s manager just weeks ago meant that his hands were tied when it came to getting additional sponsors on-board for the show.
“Whatever deal he made [with Hitman], restricted me from doing deals I normally would get done,” Kawa said. “I could have done a lot better but considering the circumstances, this is the best anybody could have done.”
As for Kawa’s apparent issues with Mitrione’s wife, he says he didn’t tell her to mind her own business, but points out that from a professional standpoint it’s best to deal with the fighter directly rather than anyone else.
“She’s his wife, I’m his agent. And there are certain things that shouldn’t be crossed.”
I must admit I’m not exactly sure what to make of all this. On one hand I’m definitely all about fighter’s getting paid well for their endeavors in the cage, and sadly there’s plenty of shady stories out their about guys who have been underpaid or even not paid at all.
On the other hand if there’s one thing we learned about Mitrione from TUF season 10 it’s that he’s a couple sandwiches short of a picnic and he even admitted himself on Saturday night that, “my wife is aggressive.”
The good news for Mitrione though is that he picked up a $70,000 ‘Fight Of The Night’ bonus on Saturday night, and if he keeps improving like he has in his three UFC fights to date then he’s not going to have any trouble finding a new manager and more lucrative sponsorship opportunities.