Former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz hasn’t always represented himself during his 17-year professional MMA career but says he’s learned some things along the way that caused him to forgo hiring a manager to deal with the UFC.
Typically for UFC fighters, contracts are set at a fixed number of bouts and rate, which includes built-in escalators. Cruz, 37, points to this as one reason why having a manager doesn’t make sense for him. He also highlighted the UFC’s Venum uniform deal – previously Reebok, which began in 2014 – that puts strict limitations on fighter’s obtaining their own sponsors for their fights.
“Why would I pay somebody for four fights when it’s set after one? That doesn’t make sense to me,” Cruz said Monday on “The MMA Hour.” “And then on top of that, with a manager, how are they supposed to be bringing me in sponsors if the UFC dictates the sponsors? So now UFC dictates the sponsors, and UFC dictates the contract. So what is a manager actually doing? They’re just talking and creating communication.
“What managers are good at, from my experience, is making it seem like they have all the hookups. But in the UFC, what hookups can you get when the UFC makes the decisions for you?”
Cruz went on to explain that his stance is specific to the UFC and not other organizations that allow fighters to wear what they want in the cage.
“Now, if you’re in Bellator, if you’re in PFL, if you’re in any of these other organizations, it makes perfect sense, to me, for a fighter to have representation, because sponsors can get brought in,” Cruz said. “They can build relationships elsewhere. They can have a lineup of, like, 10 fighters and because one manager has a lineup of 10 fighters, sponsors might come to them directly and say, ‘Hey, do you have anybody?’ So that makes sense. But in the UFC, how many sponsors are even allowed in the UFC? Very few. And they’re already decided by the UFC. So the UFC sponsors who they want, and the UFC makes the contract.
“So, for me, after the manager renegotiates my contract from one fight, I feel like I’ll pay them on that and from there, I can do the communication for myself, because the contract is set. It’s only gonna go up a certain amount each fight from there, and that’s already dictated after the first conversation. So a manager is really only having one conversation and is getting paid out for four fights. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Cruz, who also works for the UFC as a cageside commentator, believes that a direct line of communication to UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell and UFC matchmakers has benefited him greatly.
And for fighters who choose self-representation going forward, Cruz has a bit of advice.
“They’ve always been willing to work with me. I just don’t talk like a prick,” Cruz said. “… It’s really easy if you just talk to them – talk to Hunter, talk to Sean Shelby. They’re very open to listen to you if you can create a conversation from a neutral place. It’s when you come at them all crazy, ‘I deserve this’ – you’ve just got to come from a neutral place. Nobody deserves anything. You earn everything you get in this sport. You’ve got to understand they’re running a business.”
Cruz (24-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) returns to action this Saturday when he headlines UFC on ESPN 41 against Marlon Vera (21-7-1 MMA, 13-6 UFC) at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. The card airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 41.
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