UFC promoted Poirier vs. Saint-Denis with ‘not even a verbal agreement’
The UFC’s habit of occasionally playing a bit too fast and loose with fight announcements came back to bite them in the butt yesterday after three officially promoted bouts turned out to lack signed contracts.
Dominick Reyes revealed that he hadn’t signed a contract to face Carlos Ulberg at UFC Atlantic City — that fight is off anyway due to a Reyes bloodclot. The March 30th Atlantic City card also lost its main event between Sean Brady and Vicente Luque. ESPN reported that Brady is injured and also never signed a bout agreement. Both those fights were being promoted by the UFC as official since early January.
Then there’s the big one: Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint-Denis at UFC 299. The co-main scrap was announced January 10th. “The Diamond” waited three weeks before piping up and telling media “There was no contractual agreement before the fight was announced and we couldn’t come to terms.”
Poirier’s training partner and Bellator middleweight champ Johnny Eblen happened to be giving an interview with Shak MMA as the news broke. He shared his thoughts on the subject and did not hold back.
“I just think it’s kind of horses—t,” Eblen said bluntly. “Because I know how much money the UFC makes and they can make that fight happen but they’re choosing not to because they’re being stingy, in a way. And the fact that no contract was signed and they were willing to f—ing announce it? It is f—ing beyond me, man. That’s never happened to me.”
“Not even a verbal agreement, Dustin said!” he continued. “Dustin said ‘Yeah that sounds good but we gotta get this deal worked out.’ But that’s not a verbal agreement. A verbal agreement is ‘Hey, you do this, this, and this, I’m in.’ And they’re like ‘Okay yeah we’ll do this, this, and this.’ ‘Okay I’ll fight him.’ And then you do the contract and then you sign the contract. There wasn’t even a verbal agreement on his end, so….”
“I think it was kind of crazy to me that they were even willing to promote it to this degree and then let it backfire like this.”
“I think it’s horseshit because I know how much money the UFC makes and they could make that fight happen. But they’re choosing not to cause they’re being stingy…”
Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen defends teammate Dustin Poirier after his #UFC299 fight fell through pic.twitter.com/9D38bZCz4p
— Shakiel Mahjouri (@Shak_Fu) February 1, 2024
Fortunately for those who had bought tickets to UFC 299 on March 9th, things got resolved quickly. Four hours after announcing the fight was off, Poirier returned to social media and claimed the whole thing was a ‘misunderstanding.’ You can take that at face value, or you can assume UFC was willing to finally come to Dustin’s terms. Either way, Poirier vs. Saint-Denis is back on.
Hopefully the UFC is embarrassed enough by this triple whammy that they stop announcing fights before ink hits a contract. We’re not holding our breath, though — it happens more than you’d expect. The promotion has even left fights like Paulo Costa vs. Robert Whittaker on the advertised UFC 284 card for weeks despite Costa repeatedly saying he never agreed to it.
It’s not something UFC CEO Dana White is happy the ‘scumbag’ MMA media is reporting on, because promoting unsigned fights is a pretty big no no in combat sports. So we encourage him to dot those i’s and cross those t’s and not be so ‘stingy’ at first when it comes to top guys like Dustin Poirier.