Yesterday FiveOuncesOfPain.com was the first outlet to report that Ben Rothwell and Mike Whitehead had been removed from the IFL’s upcoming World Grand Prix tournament on Nov. 3 after contracts for the 2008 season could not be secured for either fighter.
The agent for both Rothwell and Whitehead is Monte Cox, who is one of the longest tenured managers in MMA. FiveOuncesOfPain.com contacted Cox for comment in regard to what had been reported yesterday by this site and others.
Below is a transcript of our conversation with Cox…
Sam Caplan: I just wanted to see if you feel that everything that has been reported thus far in regard to Ben Rothwell and Mike Whitehead being pulled from the IFL’s World Grand Prix on Nov. 3 is accurate?
Monte Cox: No, it’s not true. It’s 50% true. The situation is that they wanted to re-sign all three of my guys; Jay Hieron, Mike Whitehead, and Ben Rothwell. They all signed one-year deals and we made one-year deals for a reason — so that we can get to the end of the year and then check the market and see what they’re worth.
Well, then they came up with this Grand Prix that wasn’t in our contact (and) that had never been discussed with me. Then all of a sudden they announce that all of these guys are in the Grand Prix when we never said we’d be to fight.
That being said, they then came to us and said “Oh yeah, to fight in the Grand Prix you have to re-sign for a year plus an option. So basically it was for two years and I said “Our guys won’t do that. We’re not going to fight for two years (when) we only signed for a year. They responded by saying “Well, that’s the way it’s going to be” and I said “Okay, then we’re all out of the Grand Prix.”
Then they came back to us 10 days ago, or whenever, and said “Okay, how about this deal?” And they sent me a new deals with one year deals with three fights. And I looked at them and I looked at Hieron’s and it looked good and I looked at Whitehead’s and it looked it good and then I looked at Ben’s… and I just don’t know what Ben’s worth. I think that I need to wait until the contract ends and I need to check the market to see what Ben’s worth. He’s a big name now.
I called back and I said “Whitehead’s in and Hieron’s in” and they said, “What about Ben?” I told them we’re not going to do anything with Ben (and) that I’m going to wait until the season ends. And they said that “If Ben doesn’t sign then these other two guys are out.” I go “What do you mean?” They said “If Ben doesn’t sign then the other two guys can’t fight in the Grand Prix.”
And I go “Well, that’s retarded. Why would you do that? It’s not even related.” And they said that was the way it is and I said a few choice words to (IFL V.P. of Operations) Keith Evans and told them what I thought of them and the IFL and I said “That’s fine. We’re out. We’re all out.”
Then the next day Keith Evans calls Hieron and tells him they need to meet. So they go meet and drive off and Hieron calls me and says, “You’re not going to believe this. I just went for a ride with the IFL and they tried to get me to sign a contract in the back of their car. They said that ‘Monte wasn’t doing a good job and he’s not handling things properly and you need to sign this thing and you need to do it now.'”
Hieron said “I’m not doing anything without my manager” and he didn’t do it. Then he called me. I’m like, what is the IFL, is this the Sopranos now? So I had them FAX me the contract and I looked at the contract. It was the same contract I had already approved. I already said we’d do this. So I went “Jay, it’s a good contract. I’d sign it.” So Jay signed the contract.
Then, Mike Whitehead calls me and goes “Hey, what about me?” And I go “Let’s call these guys.” He calls them and Kurt (Otto) told them over the phone that “You should have signed yesterday. That was the deadline, you could have done it. Your manager knew.” They just made all this shit up (as if) they never told me if Rothwell didn’t sign that the others were out. (They were) pretending that it didn’t happen.
So Mike said “What are you talking about? What’s the difference if I was good to sign yesterday then I’m good to sign now! I want to fight in the Grand Prix! I’ll sign the deal for next year.”
Nope, they’re not interested, they won’t do it.
So no, he’s (Whitehead) not out of the Grand Prix because of a contract dispute. We 100% absolutely said we would sign with him and Hieron and they wouldn’t let either guy sign and then they backdoored to get Hieron in and decided not to get Mike.
Sam Caplan: When I initially called you for comment you had mentioned that it seemed as though there might have been an assurance from the IFL that Mike would be released from his 2007 contract early if nothing negative was said about the IFL. And now it’s been reported in several articles that Mike won’t be released early.
Monte Cox: That’s why we’re talking (laughs).
Sam Caplan: So do you feel the IFL went back on a promise?