Veteran Matyushenko almost had main event slot
Ortiz was the first fighter contacted for the replacement, but initially turned down the fight. Lyoto Machida agreed to take the fight, but when he was pressed to sign the contract, his agent told White that he wanted the same amount of money that Anderson Silva gets on a per-fight basis. Silva makes seven figures for each fight, and White thought the idea of paying Machida the same was ludicrous.
“Once you accomplish what Anderson Silva has accomplished, I’ll pay you Anderson Silva money,” White said.
Machida’s camp then turned down the fight, saying that there wasn’t adequate time to prepare for the fight and that it would be unprofessional to take the fight.
White noted that asking for more money to take the fight was not professional in the slightest, but also said that the incident would not cost Machida in the future.
After Machida turned down the bout, White contacted Vladimir Matyushenko and asked him to take the fight. Matyushenko agreed, and it appeared that Evans had his replacement opponent.
In the meantime, however, a pair of gutsy middleweights contacted White and told him they wanted the Evans fight. Chael Sonnen and Chris Leben both texted White and said they wanted the fight, but White declined, telling the pair that they are middleweights, but thanks for the offer.
On Tuesday night, Ortiz called White back and asked him if he’d finalized the fight. White said he hadn’t, and Ortiz asked for time to think about it. The next morning, he called White and agreed to take the fight. White confirmed that Ortiz is not making any extra money for the fight on top of his original contract, but also said that the incentive is that Ortiz could find himself in a championship bout with a win over Evans. That’s quite the stirring comeback for Ortiz, who less than two weeks ago was fighting for his UFC career.