When almost all of the UFC on FOX 26 fighters had already weighed in – but his opponent, Pietro Menga, wasn’t one of them – Tim Elliott started to worry.
Elliott was the first fighter to step onto the scale at the official weigh-ins on Friday morning in Winnipeg. He made weight with half a pound to spare.
Menga – who stepped up on short notice for his promotional debut against Elliott – did not have it as easy. He failed to weigh in, and the flyweight bout was scrapped from the event’s preliminary card. Menga told Chamatkar Sandhu of MMA India Show that he reached 131 pounds, but his doctor did not let him continue cutting weight.
When Elliott weighed in, the former title challenger had no indication Menga was not on track to make weight. But soon enough he put two and two together.
“I had no idea that he wasn’t gonna make weight,” Elliott told BloodyElbow.com. “I kind of suspected it when I didn’t see him at all; he was one of the last guys at the weigh-ins. I had an idea that he wasn’t gonna make weight. I know that he’s missed weight before, so it’s not like it’s the first time.”
The bout cancellation is crushing for Elliott, who said he puts “everything on the line” to be able to make a career out of mixed martial arts.
“It hurts,” Elliott said. “I just bought a house in Las Vegas, had a very expensive training camp, brought training guys out, did a lot of work, and paid a lot of money to get the very best training that I could possibly get. And now I’m getting half my paycheck.
“I have a two-year-old daughter — somebody that relies on me to make this a career. I don’t fight because I like to fight; that’s part of it, but this is a job, and I’ve worked very hard to get to where I’m at, and I feel like I should be compensated. I always make weight; I’ve taken fights on short notice, as well. That’s part of the game. If you can’t make the weight, you don’t say that you can. He said that he could make the weight – they asked him several times, they always do – and he couldn’t do it. It’s very frustrating.
“To see him doing interviews talking about how much bigger he is than me and how he is going to smash me, it’s funny that he would talk like that and then come in and miss weight. He’s not a professional. I’m sure he’s going to be cut after this and back in the minor leagues where he belongs.”
Elliott said that he and his team are still trying to convince the UFC to give him his win bonus, but that he’s confident they won’t succeed.
“I’ve been working on it, but I’m positive now (that I won’t get it),” Elliott said. “They told me it’s never happened before, they said that it’s not going to happen this time. But that’s not true – Ian McCall made weight, his opponent missed weight, and he got his show and win money because he has a good manager and his manager fought for it. I’ve had my coaches here begging and pleading. All I want is my fair compensation.”
After referring to Jason House of Iridium Sports Agency as the person who secured McCall his win bonus after his own bout was cancelled in 2016, Elliott added that he does indeed have a manager. But that his manager wasn’t able to help out here due to unrelated circumstances.
“I do have a manager: Joe Wooster. He was in a position where he didn’t have good phone service, so he allotted the duty on James Krause, who is a fellow UFC fighter, my coach, my training partner, one of my best friends,” Elliott said. “He’s been on the horn all day, trying to get my pay.”
Elliott had the chance to still fight Menga, despite the newcomer being overweight. In that situation, he would have received 20 percent of Menga’s fight purse. But Elliott chose to decline the bout, simply because Menga is on a low pay scale — and because five pounds can provide a major advantage.
“If he was closer, I would’ve accepted the fight,” Elliott said. “But to get 20 percent of his measly $10,000, I worked too hard for that. That wouldn’t cover my training camp; not even close. So no, I don’t want 20 percent of his nothing pay.
“The thing is, if he was making the money that I was making, then I would’ve taken the 10 percent. But this was his first fight in the UFC. He fights guys once every two years in England — old, washed up guys with terrible records. He has zero notable wins. He was getting paid exactly what he deserved, which was $10k and $10k, I think. So no, I don’t want $2,000 to fight a fat boy who can’t make weight. It’s not a smart career move. There was a time where I would have; I’d fight anybody, anytime. I was that guy, I was the go-getter, I wanted to make a name for myself. But them days are over. Now it’s time to be wiser and older in the sport, and I think most of the good guys would’ve done the same — but I think they would expect their compensation, as well.”
Elliott believes the UFC should give him his win bonus, since it was out of his control that Menga missed weight, and because he’s had a long history of working with the promotion, and never set a foot wrong.
“I’ve paid my dues in this sport; I’ve made weight every time I’ve ever come out to fight, I fought for a title, I won The Ultimate Fighter,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been a company man; I took fights on short notice, I fought the No. 1 guy in the world (in) my UFC debut, John Dodson, who had just knocked out T.J. Dillashaw. [Dodson’s] first fight at 125 pounds. I took that fight on six days’ notice.”
Elliott said he didn’t just lose out on an opportunity to compete on this one card, but he missed out on his stock going up and him moving up in the 125-pound division’s standings.
“I was really banking on this fight to get a win,” Elliott said. “T.J. Dillashaw is getting ready to fight Demetrious Johnson — I would love to get the winner of that fight, and a win here and one more win, I think, would’ve put me in a position to do that. And now I don’t get put in that position. That’s more money, I feel like, that was taken out of my pocket by an unprofessional European. I’m trying to get over it, and I’m trying not to get upset, but I’ve dedicated myself to the sport. The payout is just not worth it sometimes, and this is one of those times.”
Elliott wants to get in the Octagon as soon as possible. He’s eyeing the UFC Fight Night 124 card in St. Louis on Jan. 14, alongside teammates Krause and Zak Cummings.
“I need to fight,” he said. “This is a job, and if you don’t work, you don’t get paid — or if your opponent doesn’t make weight, you don’t get paid. It’s not a guaranteed paycheck. If they wouldn’t have found a replacement, I wouldn’t have gotten any money — no show money, no money to pay for camp. I’d like to fight as soon as possible and get the money I deserve.”