Lately, free agency has been a popular choice for UFC fighters with expiring contracts, but for some fighters that’s too big of a gamble.
Welterweight Tim Means is currently scheduled to fight Alex Oliveira on the undercard of Friday’s UFC 207. This bout with the Brazilian will mark the third fight of Means’ four-fight contract with the UFC, and Means is planning on putting away ‘Cowboy’ impressively in order to re-negotiate and get a better deal moving forward.
“We negotiate on the third fight, and that’s the third fight on my contract,” Means told MMA Fighting. “I got an excellent contract after I lost to Matt Brown. I thought that was a fight I let get away from me, I thought I was whooping Matt Brown pretty good. I took an eye poke and it just kind of changed from there, I wasn’t able to see the guy or whatever excuse I need to come up with. But the UFC saw something and offered me a killer contract, one I was happy with, and you know, why not re-negotiate this time with another impressive performance with back-to-back knockouts? You can’t force those things, you just have to let them come to you, but I just have to get in there, be mean, and take the ‘Cowboy’ out of his realm.”
Earlier this year, things appeared to be going well for Means in the UFC, as he was coming off a knockout win over veteran John Howard, which earned him a $50,000 Performance of the Night award, and was heading into his first UFC main event fight against popular fighter Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 83.
However, things took an unexpected turn for Means, as he was pulled by USADA from that bout just a little more than two weeks away from the event due to a potential anti-doping violation. Interestingly enough, Means was replaced by the man he’s now scheduled to fight, Oliveira.
Means then received a reduced six-month suspension from USADA since the prohibited substance Means popped for was taken unintentionally, as it came from a tainted supplement. Regardless, this left the 32-year-old fighter, who’s a father of two girls, without a job for six months, forcing him to work a 9-to-5 job for $9 an hour.
That experience is a reason why ‘The Dirty Bird’ wont give free agency a try.
“No, hell no,” Means said. “There is no one else taking care of us like the UFC is. I’m not testing free agency. I got cut, I came back, got suspended, went to $9 an hour. I know what I’m worth, I’ll speak up in those meetings, and I’ll be grateful that I got this opportunity to make 35 grand to show up, you know what I mean. I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me, not when I realized how easily I can go from having some money in the account to being dirt poor, you know what I mean? Could things get better? Absolutely, but it comes with communicating and I think we’re there.”
Fighting for 12 years now, Means no longer sees MMA as a hobby, but as a regular job. And although he doesn’t think a win over Oliveira does much to him rankings wise, Means sees a great opportunity to make some extra bonus money.
“He don’t have much flash to his name, but definitely a guy that I can have a Performance of the Night with and get two or three checks,” Means explained. “So it’s what this is about right now for any UFC guy or any martial artist period. There might be guys that are building themselves or whatever, but with muay thai and boxing and everything, I’m getting close to 40 fights, and it’s not a hobby no more. This is a job and this is how I pave my way, and you see guys like Sage Northcutt getting paid 60 grand, and you know, I could bury that dude easily.
“He’s an up-and-comer and he’s trying to build his name, but he shouldn’t be making more money than a lot of us, you know. I understand he brought hype with his karate stuff, but he hasn’t put in the same amount of time in the UFC as a lot of guys have and are not getting paid that type of money. So there are different things to talk about this year with Dana [White] and Sean Shelby and Joe Silva, if he’s still around, but I just have to go out there and perform and let things fall into place.”