Mike Dolce to UFC fighters: 'Fire your manager, hire world-class quality coaches'

Leading up to his UFC Fight Night 44 bout with Niko Musoke, TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum called nutritionist Mike Dolce's program "expensive."

But Gastelum missed weight by nearly two pounds, which caused the welterweight to forfeit 20 percent of his purse and may have cost him a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus after his decision win.

"Dana White was going to give him a $50,000 bonus for performance of the night," Dolce said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "But because he missed weight, he was ineligible. As B.J. Penn said, Kelvin jumped over a dollar to pick up a dime. That's what he did."

Dolce worked with Gastelum for both his TUF 17 Finale victory over Uriah Hall, which at the time was considered a big upset; and for his welterweight debut against Brian Melancon, which Gastelum won in short order.

From there, Gastelum, on the advice of his former management team, cut ties with Dolce. Since then, it took him three tries to make weight at UFC 171 in Dallas for a split-decision win over Rick Story; then came the Musoke weigh-in failure.

"I helped him prepare for his final fight against Uriah," said Dolce. "I helped him drop to welterweight for the first time ever in his career where he looked absolutely amazing, he made weight on the first try. Strong, healthy, and he just ripped apart Brian Melancon in his debut. From there he was poorly, terribly mismanaged."

From there, Dolce launched into a rant against fight managers in general, saying a fighter's money would be better spent on a lawyer and coaching.

"These managers are charging the athletes 20 percent," Dolce said, "Just to answer a phone call from Joe Silva to get one opponent's name, to then call the athlete and say, you're fighting Johnny So-and-So. And then the manager then takes 20 percent out of that. And then the athlete doesn't have enough money to pay for a world-class coaching staff that will properly prepare them ..."

"UFC athletes don't need managers, they need lawyers," he continued. "When you can hire a lawyer to do contract review and negotiation for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars and then be done and not have to give 20 percent of all their earning in perpetuity, like these managers and agents."

Dolce used his own experience the week of the Gastelum-Melancon fight as an example.

"I paid for my own airfare, I paid for my hotel room," Dolce said. "I paid for all Kelvin's groceries that week, and they stiffed me on that bill. Forget about what they owed me and my professional services. I would send them my send invoice every 30 days, ‘hey guys, what's going on.' Nothing, nothing, total radio silence, calls, text messages, nothing. Finally I said, you guys, you won't even respect me enough to pay me for my airfare, to pay me for the fed I fed Kelvin on fight week? So basically it cost me two grand for your athlete to win a fight? That's the type of business relationship you want? This is not going to work, best of luck, I'm going to move on."

Dolce said the matter was resolved after the two crossed paths at UFC 171.

"Kelvin, after that next fight, I saw him in Dallas where it took him three tries to make weight, he saw me with Johny Hendricks just having a blast, easy time making weight [on his second attempt for his fight with Robbie Lawler, after missing in his first attempt]. [Kelvin] called me over and apologized, and that Monday morning he wire transferred me the full fee for what they owed me all the way back in August."

Of course, that's just one side of the story. Dolce, who will talk with Gastelum this week about working together, went on to say that he doesn't consider all MMA managers to be detrimental to their fighters.

"There are a few very good managers out there, one of whom is Dan Lambert. Dan Lambert from American Top Team, they have more fighters in the UFC than any other manager, any other management system, and they only charge five percent to their athletes. That's full training, full coaching, full cornering, five percent and that's it. That's the epitome, That should be the ideal. Every athlete who is coughing up 15, 20, 30 percent to these management systems, fire your manager, hire world-class, quality coaches."

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