by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly Radio
Ivan Salaverry seemed to disappear after his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC): ‘Ultimate Fight Night 1′ loss to Nathan Marquardt in August of last year. Salaverry went from being a viable UFC middleweight contender to not being offered fights overnight. “For like nine months I didn’t get a call from UFC, or anybody. Then, all of a sudden, I got a call from IFL, WFA, UFC. It’s crazy.” Salaverry commented.
The International Fighting League (IFL) released the roster of fighters participating on their debut card April 29th, and Ivan Salaverry was listed. According to the IFL, Salaverry is a member of the Maurice Smith coached ‘Tigersharks,’ and will be fighting Jamal Patterson from the Renzo Gracie led ‘Pitbulls.’ Salaverry recently told MMAWeekly Radio the deal has not been finalized.
In the interview, which can be heard by clicking on the radio archive, Salaverry spoke for nearly twenty minutes covering an array of topics including: fighter pay in America and Japan, sponsorship dollars, Nathan Marquardt, and his bitterness with the UFC.
Discussing his status with the IFC, Ivan said, “We haven’t signed yet. We’re very interested. We’re talking. There are a few variables out there that I have to adhere to, obviously I’m doing a gym. My wife is pregnant, so I have to figure out certain variables . . . We are thinking about it. We are working on it right now. It is on the process.”
Ivan continued, “I have not signed yet per say. We sat down with Moe and the rest of the guys, Maurice Smith’s team over here in Seattle. We’ve gone through the contract. We’ve gone through a few things, but I have some other things that I have to discuss. I haven’t signed. I’m very much interested in them, and we are now very much engaged in the contract.”
When asked when we’ll see him fight, Ivan took the opportunity to get some things off his chest. He commented, “Honestly, I’ll tell you. Honestly, I’m a little bitter about the whole process of all of these situations especially with how the UFC has conducted themselves with me. I’m bitter on the fact that I wasn’t able to get the rematch with Marquardt especially with the controversy with his steroid use. I’m a little bitter the fact that Joe Silva told me that I have to go fight in smaller organizations to come and fight back in the UFC. There are a lot of little things that I just feel that as far as I was concerned I was pretty fire and ice for them for a while there when I won my two fights against Fryklund and Riggs. I was the hot guy for a moment, and all of a sudden I lost and no where to be heard. No one called, nothing. If that is the name of the business, or that is how the business goes and the name of the game is, then I don’t know what to say. But I’m a little bitter to say the least about the situation.”
Salaverry added, “I talked to Dana White and I asked him. I straight up asked him that I wanted a rematch, would you give it to me? He said yes. And nowhere to be found, any kind of contract of any sort with me and a rematch with Marquardt. Especially with the controversy of his steroid use. I know that he went up and down saying he didn’t take it. He didn’t do this and that is a bunch of crap. It really is. You know what I mean? And I find it very hypocritical to say otherwise. And you know what? I got it real quick how this whole situation all of sudden turned around on me. My brother in fighting, Josh Barnett, got crucified, crucified by the UFC. Okay? But yet Marquardt got a little slap on the hand and he is fighting six months later. That to me is ridiculous. That to me goes to show how the UFC conducts themselves on who they like and who they don’t like.”
Salaverry shifted gears and addressed fighter salaries, but his tone didn’t change. Ivan stated, “A lot of people, especially in the UFC, are like you’re supposed to go out there and just fight. You know? And behind it all truly is a business, but you have to think about. They’re paying guys, our current champ in the middleweight division got paid something like fifteen thousand dollars. Right? To win fifteen thousand more if he won for his third belt, title defense. I mean you think of a boxing middleweight champion out there, any of them. What is the minimal purse for that? I mean the sport itself and how it is being conducted by the UFC, to me, I feel that it is being strangled. And yet I do believe the UFC is doing major strides for the sport, and I do want them to succeed. There has to be a checks and balances of what is being out there as far as a sanctioning body of some sort that gives us ranking that we can use as negotiation for purses that we’d like. Agents, a union, there is so many variables out there that I think would be fantastic for the fighters out there to better protect themselves from all kinds of situations. And there isn’t that right now.”
Ivan further stated, “I want people to understand that, many people are going to go, aw, go out there and fight. Yea. There is a passion. There is a love for fighting, but at the same time you have to think that you’re going up against world caliber, especially at the UFC level, or any of the big three: Pride, K-1, or UFC; you’re going up against world caliber fighters for basically, when you get locked onto some of these contracts, minimum wage. You know what I mean? And I’m looking at guys like our current champ. I’m looking at guys like Chris Leben getting locked into these supposed six figure contract for ten fights. And you start calculating it out, and it is almost like thirty thousand dollars a year. You try to survive on thirty thousand dollars a year and train like a world class athlete and see what happens. – But on the back hand of that, you start calculating what the UFC is making. How much are they making by filling the casino, filling the pay-per-view? How much did they get on pay-per-view? How much did they get on DVD sales? How much did they get in merchandising? You start calculating those numbers and it just doesn’t equate. It doesn’t equate. – If they’re doing well as a business then the fighters should be doing well as a business, a shared situation or some kind of percentage toward the profits. And that’s the truth. I think it should be a situation of if the company moves better and does better then so should the fighter. Honestly the contracts that are being spilled out there right now toward other fighters fighting for two and two, come on. Two and two for a televised fight that sells out at the MGM or Mandalay Bay? Come on. It’s just ridiculous.”
Ivan recognized that he personalized a lot of the business fallout with the UFC. Despite the bitterness toward the UFC, Ivan hopes the company continues to flourish. He said, “Even thought, right now, I’m painting a bid, dark cloud over the UFC, I really do wish them success because it does benefit the fighter in general. But I also want success to be with these other organizations, especially organizations that are so different like the IFL, or the WFA, or things of that nature that could be as strong and popular as the UFC. I think that would benefit the fighter and the sport itself in general. If we have three big organizations in this country televising wold caliber fighters on TV and being able to sellout a venue, then that would be wonderful for the sport and for the fighter.”
Some say the popularity of the UFC will bring in higher paying sponsors, which it has, and fighters will be compensated through sponsorship money offsetting their low purses, but Ivan Salaverry doesn’t subscribe to that line of thinking. He commented, “Your sponsor . . . it comes and goes. You know what I mean? Just like anything else. It is a supplement to your income that you’re really negotiating with the company at hand. The sponsorship shouldn’t really be taken in as far as your income in what you negotiate with the company as far as the purse should be taken in for a lot of reasons. For what happened to me with the situation with Tito. That are things that can be personalized. I wanted to be sponsored by Team Punishment, by Punishment Athletics, and guess what? That didn’t happen. I did get money coming from the UFC, but that didn’t happen. Why? For whatever reasons that come into play, it is something that has to be looked at. The sponsorship money shouldn’t be a thought in somebody’s head and say, Okay, this is what we’re negotiating for. He is also getting sponsors, so we should come back on the money on his purse. No. Not even close.”
Fans are always asking what the pay difference is between MMA organizations in the U.S. vs. Japan. Ivan has competed on both continents and was asked. He responded, “The money out there is a little bit better. They are. The Japanese promotions payoff a little bit better. They take care of you. They pay your plane ticket, your food. They take care of you out there. It is just a little different, and they pay you a little bit more.”
Salaverry hasn’t signed with the IFL yet, but all indications are that he will. In closing, Ivan commented, “The IFL has given me something that is really nice, but it is other things that I have to think about really. My wife is pregnant. I have to start this other business, so there are other variables right now. What the IFL has put forth is very, very cool. I like the team concept. I like the fact that there are some sharing of profit. There are certain things of getting a salary where you get paid when you’re training, so there is a lot of little things that are really, really cool. The team concept has always been really, really cool. To think of having other teams from all around the nation fight against other teams, sort of like a duel match like in wrestling. Things of that nature. It is fantastic. And I think it is going to be, I hope, something that is going to be tremendous. I really, really do. I hope that it takes off. I think it will.”