The Business of MMA: MMA Inc, Part Two

UFC 136 Open Workout at the Expo-29“We don’t even micro-manage Chael. Imagine that.”

Be sure to check out Part One of The Business of MMA: MMA Inc

Speaking with Mike Roberts and Jeff Meyer a week after UFC 136, it’s hard to keep the conversation from turning to their most intriguing client, Chael Sonnen.

“Chael is a very, very smart man,” Meyer begins when asked about the sport’s most quote-worthy competitor. “I will say this — there is a public Chael and a private Chael. There is probably no better student of the game; he’s a very smart, cerebral fighter, and he knows how to sell a fight.

“I enjoy working with Chael. How this all came about, Mike actually knew Chael from years ago, and when he came into the WEC, we all knew each other, and one day he approached us about helping him out with a few things. The relationship developed, and we’ve been with him ever since through the highs and the lows.

“I’m just glad to see him back in the Octagon fighting. He put on a stellar performance the other night, and I think he’s deserving of the next shot at Anderson.”

Anderson is (of course) UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, the man Sonnen called out in epic fashion following his UFC 136 victory over Brian Stann.

The mention of the potential Sonnen-Silva rematch moves the discussion to recent comments from Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, who suggested that Sonnen already had his turn and should move to the back of the line of contenders.

“Ed’s trying to be the match-maker just like he did before; just like they tried to get away from Mendes. Typical, typical stuff; they try to pick their fights.”

The frustration is evident in Roberts’ voice as he continues.

“Here’s the thing: when you’re the champion or you’ve got the champion — in my opinion, you shouldn’t say nothing. You fight who they tell you, when they tell you.”

Roberts gives an abridged version of how an agent or managers works to get their fighter a certain fight, explaining the process with through his efforts when MMA Inc. clients Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen were the top two challengers for then-WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

“Our job is to plead to Joe Silva why our guy should be the guy getting that title shot. I went to Joe — actually Sean Shelby was the one doing that fight — and made my case for each guy specifically.

“The reality is that if you didn’t have two guys, not only would you plead your case, but you’d plead the case why the other guy shouldn’t get the spot, and that’s the only thing I couldn’t do in that case. Obviously I couldn’t argue both ways; I just gave both my opinion on why each guy was deserving of a title shot. At the end of the day, it’s their job to make the fights, not mine.”

Roberts believes the scenario could potentially present itself again, this time manifesting itself in the UFC middleweight division.

“We have the same thing going on with Chael and Mark Munoz right now. Mark’s gotta be in the top three guys out there. I could argue a case for Mark. His only loss at middleweight was to Okami which was a split decision that could have went either way. Everyone else he’s beaten, he’s beaten handily. Mark’s as deserving of a title shot as anybody.

“I think the only reason Chael’s fight makes more sense is that it’s going to be a much bigger pay-per-view fight. The reality is that Mark has beaten everybody that they’ve but in front of him but Yushin Okami, and that was a split decision loss that could have went either way, and Okami just fought for the belt. Demian Maia had fought for the belt, and Mark beat Demian Maia; Mark’s as deserving as anybody.

“I would do it the same way I did with Jorgensen and Benavidez. I will tell you why I believe each guy deserves that title shot, and then let the guys that are paid to make their decision on who it is.”

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