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Gilbert Melendez and Manager Went Up Against Dana White, and Won

Written by Tom Ngo
February 24th, 2014
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“Being Georges St-Pierre’s best friend doesn’t make you a good manager,” UFC president Dana White stated earlier this month when contract negotiations got sticky with lightweight Gilbert Melendez (pictured).

Apparently, it does.

Rodolphe Beaulieu, who manages semiretired and now-former UFC welterweight champion St-Pierre, represented Melendez during his contentious extension talks with White. White got so frustrated with the process that he washed his hands clean of them and passed the bargaining baton along to UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, who tends to have the Midas touch in sealing the deal when fighters don’t cave to White’s terms.

“I’m done. I couldn’t care less about it anymore. I like Gilbert Melendez, I don’t like his management,” White previously stated.

But why? White has admitted countless times himself that fighters only have a small window of opportunity to showcase their skills during their primes and be paid handsomely for it. So why is Beaulieu such a bad guy? Because he did his job by ensuring his 31-year-old client gets top dollar for his talents?

There are certainly several NFL general managers and owners who can’t stand mega agent Drew Rosenhaus for his shrewd negotiation tactics, but guess who loves Rosenhaus? His clients, because Rosenhaus makes sure not a single dollar gets left on the table.

If the player’s present team won’t ante up, then Rosenhaus will go knocking on another door. That’s exactly what Beaulieu did. He called up Bellator MMA, who is backed by Viacom’s billion-dollar bank account, and found out Melendez’s true market value.

After accepting Bellator’s offer, the UFC – specifically in this case, Fertitta – had the right to match and retain Melendez’s services. Fertitta did so late Sunday night.

And just like that, Melendez and Beaulieu won the bartering battle. While financial terms of UFC contracts are never disclosed, MMAFighting.com is reporting Melendez’s new agreement guarantees 75 percent of his bouts must appear on pay-per-view. That’s great for his sponsorship dollars, which has been a touchy subject of late, but more importantly, Melendez will also be one of the company’s rare non-champions to enjoy percentages of PPV buys for shows he performs in.

In addition, “El Niño” breaks in his new deal by coaching opposite lightweight champion Anthony Pettis on “The Ultimate Fighter 20.” Melendez will then challenge Pettis for this throne once filming wraps on the reality show.

Seems to be a far better deal than settling for whatever White offered financially and beginning his new contract with a non-guaranteed top contender bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 170, wouldn’t you say?

As fictional sports agent Bob Sugar famously said in the movie “Jerry Maguire,” “It’s not show friends, it’s show business.”

For Melendez, St-Pierre’s friend showed him the money.

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