As stars like Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal and Conor McGregor aired their grievances with the UFC, more current and former fighters of the promotion have been speaking out as of late. They’ve voiced their issues about fighter pay, and pushed for athletes to organize and collectively bargain against the multi-billion dollar company.
As these UFC veterans shared their experiences on social media, many seem to have one thing in common: a disdain for Joe Silva and how he handled negotiations during his time with the promotion. As the conversation went on, former title contender Gray Maynard has also started a #JoeSilvaStories hashtag to encourage more people to share more anecdotes from the former matchmaker.
Apart from Maynard, the discussion so far included the likes of former title contender Jon Fitch, Mike Pierce and Matt Pena, who used to coach guys like Tim Sylvia, Robbie Lawler and others from the Miletich camp.
I got paid 2k and 2k for my first ufc fight when they were starting out. When they got rich they kept us all poor. We are commodities to them. I’m with @GamebredFighter @JonnyBones @GrayMaynard and all the others that have the balls to stand up to the man.— sam stout (@SammyJstout) June 13, 2020
Extra special asshole.— Jon Fitch ☠️ (@jonfitchdotnet) June 13, 2020
Lol. People have no idea what he put fighters through https://t.co/AddTAtaheH— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) June 13, 2020
We all have stories about that hobbit dirt bag.— Mike Pierce (@MikePierce170) June 13, 2020
There are many. One time, as I was at the curtain about to make the walk, he reminded me why he signed me and why he hadn't cut me yet. In other words, perform how I expect or you're gone. One hell of a pep talk when you're already under immense pressure. *fixed for spelling*— Mike Pierce (@MikePierce170) June 13, 2020
♂️I used to hear that speech.Then I gave him a “fight of the year”,only got a normal bonus and a pat on the back.Joe Silva called a couple days later and made sure I got the lowest pay he could give me for my next title fight 42k/42k. No PPV point/nothing. Definitely no residuals https://t.co/ep9EHXcalg— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) June 13, 2020
Perfect hashtag! Every UFC fighter should share one. #JoeSilvaStories— Mike Pierce (@MikePierce170) June 14, 2020
We had just renegotiated a new contract and Joe was pissed I was getting a pay bump. I only had one loss to GSP at the time. Joe said fine, you’ll get this number but as soon as you lose we are going to cut you and sign you back for half as much #JoeSilvaStories— Jon Fitch ☠️ (@jonfitchdotnet) June 14, 2020
I remember one time in Sacramento he was so pissed that Tim defended against Monson, in the morning on the way to the airport he told Tim, “your job is to entertain”. I looks at Tim and Joe, then said, “ Tim, your job is to win. You’re the champ”. He was so pissed at me.— Matt Pena (@PenaBoxing) June 14, 2020
Stories about Silva’s harsh negotiation tactics aren’t new, and a lot of them were even discussed on the on-going anti-trust lawsuit against the UFC. Here’s a few snippets involving Nick Diaz and Hector Lombard’s contracts, with much more situations and details in the actual excerpts and depositions:
Silva’s negotiating style is also on display in emails from April 2010, when he discussed his approach to trying to re-sign Nick Diaz (see Extract 4). “I lowballed them on purpose the first offer knowing they would turn it down,” wrote Silva. “How bout I come back with 29+29, 32+32, 35+35, 38+38. If they turn it down I put him in a prelim against a really tough guy for his last fight.”
Silva, who explained that when Lombard was on the fourth fight of his eight-fight UFC contract, he stood to make $205,000 to show and $75,000 to win. However, Silva said he was able to convince Lombard to fight for less than half that amount ($100,000) in exchange for not being cut by the promotion.
Silva was the UFC matchmaker from 1997 to 2016. In 2017, he was inducted to the UFC hall-of-fame in the Contributors wing.