On Monday, MMA agent Malki Kawa
explained his side of the story in response to receiving the boot from Matt Mitrione
live on national television this past Saturday at UFC 119
Mitrione made the public firing after his win over Joey Beltran
during the Spike TV prelims and in a one-on-one interview with MMAFighting.com following the event clarified the dismissal by telling Ariel Helwani that earning $5,000 in sponsorship money
was "highly unacceptable." Additionally, Mitrione and his wife felt slighted by Kawa allegedly telling Mitrione's wife that Mitrione's business was none of her's.
Kawa, the CEO of First Round Management, on Monday's The MMA Hour
reasoned that he was only able to rake in $5,000 due to the constraints he was working within. Kawa said he picked up Mitrione as a client four weeks ago expecting an exclusive deal only to learn that Mitrione entered their business relationship with a family member already working sponsorships.
"I'm not upset that he got mad that it was only $5,000 but there were certain things I was bringing to the table that would have gotten him at a certain number and he would have been pretty happy had I been able to handle the whole thing A to Z," Kawa said.
Kawa said Mitrione actually made more than $5,000 in sponsorships because that's not including Mitrione's deal with the TapouT-owned Hitman brand before signing with Kawa. Kawa estimates Mitrione made around $10,000-$15,000 after the Hitman deal is considered. That deal with Hitman was also another obstacle for Kawa in closing other deals.I could have done a lot better but considering the circumstances, this is the best anybody could have done.
-- Malki Kawa
" ... Whatever deal [Mitrione's previous management] made [with Hitman], restricted me from doing deals I normally would get done," Kawa said.
Being let go on live television may not reflect him as a product in the best light, but Kawa says he's actually quite happy about it, as it's giving Kawa, who also represents Jon Jones, Thiago Alves and Kenny Florian, the air time to spread the word of his services instead of just talking about his clients.
"It's awesome in a sense, because I've gotten a lot of publicity," said Kawa, who will also appear on this week's Inside MMA
. "I'm on [The MMA Hour
] for the first time, and instead of talking about Jon Jones and a potential fight with Ryan Bader, we're talking about me."
Kawa instead, feels bad for Mitrione. whose win over Beltran has been overshadowed by the story of the firing of his manager.
The only disappointment for Kawa himself was the fact that he didn't receive the opportunity to tell his version of the events to person that mattered most in this case, Mitrione.
"I'm not upset with it," Kawa said. "I'm just mad at the fact that he didn't give me to the opportunity to explain to him some of the process that has happened and what's gone down and why his numbers weren't 10-15,000 but only $5,000."
In Mitrione's interview with Helwani, he also mentioned how Kawa disrespected Mitrione's wife.
Kawa said he never told Mitrione's wife that Mitrione's deals were none of her business, but his responses to her were out of how he separates his client's business from his client's personal life. This is, unless he receives approval from his client to do so.
"She's his wife, I'm his agent," Kawa said. "And there are certain things that shouldn't be crossed."
Kawa said he had no idea he would be fired on TV, but revealed Mitrione may have first voiced his displeasure through a text message days before the fight stating, "Are you happy with this $5,000? Do you think this is the best you could have done?"
Kawa responded, "'Listen, I could have done a lot better but considering the circumstances, this is the best anybody could have done.' And I don't think he really understood that and nor did he call me to ask that."
As of Monday afternoon, Kawa's messages to Mitrione have gone unanswered.(Editor's note: Watch Monday's MMA Hour below.)