by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Going undefeated in team competition this year for the International Fight League, Andre Gusmao was rumored to be jumping to the Ultimate Fighting Championship to compete in its light heavyweight division, but the move may have been premature as it looks like for now he is unable to negotiate with any other organization.
“I think what happened was that Andre did not understand his contract nor did his representation, his lawyer or manager did not understand the contract and they jumped the gun and negotiated,” said IFL commissioner Kurt Otto about the situation.
“I immediately got on the phone with Joe Silva from the UFC and he is totally professional,” Otto stated. “He said ‘I didn’t know. It was just brought to our attention. We definitely did our due diligence. They said everything was fine on their end, but we will immediately retract that offer, and we’ll wait until Andre is legally allowed to talk about what the possibilities are.’ Joe is more than professional and that’s just not his style.”
Gusmao acted as an alternate for the eventual champion New York Pitbulls led by Renzo Gracie, and Otto said that he was shocked to learn of the move.
“It sent Renzo (Gracie) into a bit of a tailspin, because Renzo was not aware of it fully either that Andre’s management was considering doing that,” said Otto. “Renzo’s been traveling a lot lately and he was just left out of the loop on that particular deal and it was a little upsetting to him, but at the end of the day Andre was an alternate fighter, he was not a starting fighter.”
Otto confirmed that they are in ongoing negotiations to try and re-sign the talented fighter, but nothing is official yet.
According to the IFL commissioner, under the terms of his current contract, they have the right to match any offer to Gusmao and there is also a negotiation period that the promotion has to try and re-sign the fighter. For him to be totally out of contract and able to sign with any other promotion he would have to wait until the end of the negotiation period. Otto did not reveal how long that time would be.
The UFC is obviously interested in Gusmao, but the IFL doesn’t plan on letting go of him that easily.
“If the UFC wants him, they’re going to have to bid for him,” said Otto confidently. “It just goes to show you (that) originally when it was stated that the UFC is not interested in our guys, that’s not so anymore, is it?”
Neither Gusmao nor his management team has issued an official statement.