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Morning Report: Former UFC contenders urge other fighters to not be 'silly' and test the free-agent waters

Esther Lin

Being No. 2 in the world of MMA promotion can be an unforgiving position, just ask Pride FC founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara. However, things may be looking up for a current second fiddle, Bellator MMA as a swath of former UFC fighters are urging current fighters to test free agency.

Recently Bellator has been making a strong push to acquire top UFC talent. Whereas previous similar attempts resulted mostly in milking the last remaining drops of celebrity out of faded former stars, in the past year it has managed to sign ranked contenders Phil Davis, Benson Henderson, Matt Mitrione, and Josh Thomson from the UFC by offering the fighters things the UFC does not.

"For me, dealing with Scott [Coker] and Rich [Chou] the first time, it was a little bit of a breath of fresh air," said Benson Henderson, former UFC Lightweight Champion when talking with Mike Chiappetta of Bleacher Report. "They were super up-front, transparent and honest about where they were coming from. With some other people, it's like, 'This is how it is, and this is how it's going to be done.' There's no discussion. Scott, Rich and Mike Kogan were super open to discussing things. They had openness, forthrightness, transparency. That's not something you get in most negotiations, I suppose, but especially in MMA."

As former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson notes, consistency is often preferable to hoping for a bonus.

"I can't base my livelihood on how much you like me. You hear, 'Oh yeah, we'll take care of you.' I can't do that... I needed to have it where I know I get this much money. I get that now. I know what the numbers are. Your bills don't give a crap if you get a backroom bonus or not. Your bills are coming the same either way."

A promise is not the same thing as a paycheck and, as heavyweight contender Matt Mitrione says, "there is no promise of loyalty."

"[The UFC] took so much money from us and so much revenue-earning potential from us, it changed the entire landscape of everything. I don't understand why anyone would re-up with the UFC unless they're still caught up in the glamour of being in the UFC."

Not all of the fighters have such strong words for their former employer but they all seem to share the same sentiment: current UFC fighters should fight out their contracts and test the free-agent market.

"But honestly, I think it'd be silly not to look into free agency,' said light heavyweight contender Phil Davis. "You need to make the most money while your body holds up and you're sharp and in your prime. If there's a competing market out there for yourself, it's up to you...Supply and demand. It's silly to limit yourself to only one marketplace."

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

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For once it wasn't AKA's fault. Tony Ferguson withdraws from scheduled bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov

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That'll save it. UFC announces that the winner of season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter will receive a Flyweight Title shot.

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It wasn't me. It was the one armed man! Jose Aldo says he beat Frankie Edgar in their first bout with only one arm.

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Six Flags. Daniel Cormier says he is tired of his emotional 'roller coaster ride' with Jon Jones.

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Legal battles. Jon Jones pleads not guilty to drag-racing, set for trial.

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EXTRA CREDIT READING

***These are pieces that aren't essential news but I found enjoyable or otherwise interesting. They may be op-eds, fanposts, or articles from around the internet. I may also occasionally (and shamelessly) shill my own work from SBNation site BloodyElbow.

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Interim? I barely know him. Todd Martin of Sherdog.com talks about the rampant use of Interim Championships used by the UFC and why it should stop.

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Paul Harris. Man trying to change the perception that he is unstable and too dangerous for cage fighting says he would like to kill man 20 pounds smaller than him, as reported by James Millbank of the Daily Mail.

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How we got here. Handsome genius reviews the absurdity which brought us to Jones vs. Saint Preux.

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MEDIA STEW

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They go to Minneapolis and see a quintessential Midwestern Heavyweight fight, if that is your kind of thing.

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I'm exhausted just watching this.

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Sure Jon Jones may have put a dragon to sleep but OSP choked Al Capone unconscious so I'd call it even.

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Apparently Tim Kennedy wasn't fond of the show Jackass.

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Referee Marc Goddard talks about fouls and point deductions in MMA.

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Cowboy being Cowboy.

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LONG WATCHES

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TWEETS

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I doubt anything will happen but this is arguably a violation of USADA's 'prohibited association' rule.

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I'm not a doctor but blood in the lungs seems like it might require more than a 'couple weeks' to fix.

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I think he meant to say: 'Now you know how I feel. All the time.'

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Someone make a shirt that says 'Cowboy Knows' on the front and 'A Guy' on the back. Then share your millions of dollars with me.

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If Khabib Who Wrestles Bears can have a Dominick Cruz style return without ring rust this fight would be the best consolation match ever.

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That's what we call 'good promotional synergy.'

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Good to see that Sage's dad hasn't pulled him from Tri-Star yet.

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MMA: proof positive that your elementary school excuse of 'it's not my fault, he told me to do it' translates to the real world.

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Woe betide the man who tries to cut that checkout line.

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Mighty Mouse gets a visit from USADA

Got em lmao

A video posted by Demetrious Johnson (@mightymouse125) on

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Announced yesterday (April 5, 2016)

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (36-11-0) vs. Satoshi Ishii (14-5-1), Bellator Dynamite 2, June 24

Douglas Lima (26-6-0) vs. Chidi Njokuani (14-4-0), Bellator 156, June 17

Cody East (12-1-0) vs. Walt Harris (7-4-0), UFC 197, April 23

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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

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2013: UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi was held at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm Sweden. The event was headlined by a Light Heavyweight contest between Gegard Mousasi and the debuting Ilir Latifi which Mousasi won by unanimous decision. Mousasi was originally slated to face Alexander Gustafsson who ultimately withdrew due to injury.

The event also featured the UFC debut of current Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor who knocked out Marcus Brimage in the first round.

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2012: Bellator 64 took place Caesar's Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. The event was headlined by a Welterweight title bout between champion Ben Askren and challenger Douglas Lima which ask won via unanimous decision.

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2006: UFC Ultimate Fight Night 4 was held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was headlined by Stephan Bonnar taking a unanimous decision victor over Keith Jardine in a Light Heavyweight bout and also featured the UFC Middleweight debut of future multiple time title challenger Chael Sonnen scoring a unanimous decision victory over Trevor Prangley.

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1997: Shooto: Reconquista 2 took place in Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. It featured the MMA debut of Shooto mainstay Tetsuji Kato defeating Hiroyuki Kojima by unanimous decision. The event also featured future UFC Japan Tournament runner-up, Katsuhisa Fujii TKOing Daniel Quonian.

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Think I missed a spot? Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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