If Dana White is to be believed, Mexican rising star Yair Rodriguez “didn’t want to fight” and was released earlier in the month for turning down multiple offers to compete at UFC 227. The UFC president doubled up on these statements after last weekend’s event in Liverpool.
“We offered him fights, he turned down the fights. There was a lot more back and forth that went on with that. If you don’t want to fight, this isn’t the place to be,” White said (transcribed by Sherdog). “There’s plenty of places out there that will take Yair Rodriguez, and would love to have him, and would sign him, and I’m sure he’ll have a great career. This isn’t the place for you.”
The entertaining prospect has already shared his side of the story, denying that he ever declined a bout with Ricardo Lamas. Rodriguez claims he was trying to negotiate to either make sure he gets any top 10 opponent like Lamas, or more money to face a lower ranked fighter like Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Regardless of what really took place during negotiations, White says that other UFC fighters should take note and accept his offers, or risk suffering a similar fate as Rodriguez.
“When I call you and offer you a fight, you should probably take it. You should probably take it,” White said. “I make 42 fights a year. And if you don’t want to fight, and if you want to be picky and choosy, and you don’t want to do this and you don’t want to do that, then you probably need to go somewhere else. And I’ll help you get there.”
White releasing Yair then stating these outright, is a strong message that will curb the fighters’ ability and desire to negotiate. I don’t doubt its effectiveness, but the question is, if the athletes have no choice because of the threat of punishment, is the UFC overstepping or abusing their authority?
That’s an issue raised by former UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes on social media.
If you have to take it, it’s not really an offer. Sounds like something bosses tell employees and not independent contractors. https://t.co/edpxsPdYMh— Daniel Downes (@dannyboydownes) May 27, 2018
UFC fighters are currently still classified as independent contractors and not employees, a status that many are trying to dispute.