Matt Mitrione is choosing to become a free agent after his upcoming fight with Travis Browne, the last on his UFC contract.
Mitrione (9-4) hasn’t renewed his contract with the UFC, which traditionally happens before a fighter’s last fight on the contract. Mitrione spoke about his situation with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani at UFC Fight Night 81 media day:
“This is the last fight in my deal. Lorenzo and I had some talks and we just didn’t come to an agreement,” Mitrione said. “In fairness to him, he offered a significant pay increase from where I’m at but I felt like that money was just replacing the sponsor money that I’m no longer getting.
“I offered them a performance-laden contract and they didn’t want that. So, I was like ‘cool, just rescind my original contract and we’ll see what the hell happens.’”
Mitrione is not the only fighter in this situation. Fighters like Ben Henderson, Alistair Overeem, and Aljamain Sterling have fought out their contracts to test the waters as a free agent. In the past, the UFC has faced harsh criticism related to fighter pay and, more recently, the Reebok deal which prevents fighters from promoting their sponsors during fight week.
“It’s an interesting situation for a lot of us. A lot of guys are fighting their contracts out now which never happened before,” said Mitrione.
The former NFL player who is coming off of a submission loss to Ben Rothwell does not feel any desperation to remain with the UFC or even continue competing in MMA. In an interview with MMA Junkie, he discussed his thoughts on potentially losing his upcoming fight or not having success in negotiation:
“I’m not afraid to walk away,” Mitrione said. “I’ve got a life set up enough. I’m not thinking about it, but if Travis smokes me, or if I don’t get the money that I want after Travis, then I could easily walk away.”