James Vick has himself another fight in his home state, but he’s not exactly jumping for joy given the circumstances.
UFC Austin on Feb. 18 will mark the fourth time that Vick makes the walk to the Octagon in Texas. He carries an 8-1 UFC record, a run of success that he hoped would convince officials to finally let him headline a show, especially one that’s just a three-hour drive from where he lives.
Instead, veteran Donald Cerrone was booked to fight Yancy Medeiros in the welterweight main event, a decision that didn’t sit well with “The Texecutioner.” Vick has three fights remaining on his current contract, and if the UFC doesn’t start showing him more respect, he’s willing to walk.
“If I re-sign a contract before these three fights are up it’s because they offered me a sh*tload of money. That’s the only reason why,” Vick said Monday on The MMA Hour. “If this continues at this pace and I’m winning and I’m not getting the things I that I feel like I deserve, then I’m going to play the field. I’m going to go where I’m celebrated, not where I’m tolerated.”
It’s not just being passed over that has Vick feeling disrespected, it’s the way the situation was handled. After openly lobbying to headline UFC Austin, Vick said he was told by UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby that the promotion was planning to go with a more established main-event act. When Vick heard it was Cerrone, he let Shelby know he was interested in facing “Cowboy.”
There was no reply and three days after speaking to Shelby, Vick heard about the Cerrone-Medeiros fight being announced. He described the whole dealing as “shady.”
Vick isn’t complaining about the opponent he ended up with, Francisco Trinaldo, a fellow lightweight contender on the fringes of the top 10. He’s also happy to be back in Texas, even if the main event snub almost pushed him past the point of caring where he would end up on the card.
“It really just kind of pisses me off to the point that I’m like, I just wanted to say, ‘F*ck y’all, I’ll be on the card, but just put me on the f*cking Fight Pass card. I don’t even give a sh*t anymore. That’s kind of how I felt about it,” Vick said.
The 30-year-old’s discontent has been brewing for some time now. In November, he complained about the UFC’s ranking system, and he’s only grown more suspect of his employers as he notices newer fighters receiving the level of exposure that he’s been working for since joining the promotion in 2013 following a semifinal finish on The Ultimate Fighter 15.
Seeing how some of the fighters on the recent Charlotte show were spotlighted left Vick feeling unappreciated.
“(For UFC on FOX 27,) they had Jordan Rinaldi and Gregor Gillespie, got a feature on the Countdown show,” Vick said. “They weren’t the main or the co-main event. Here I am, I’m two fights from the main event, I’m in that same pecking order on the system here, no one’s come and filmed me.
“I’ve never been on a Countdown show, I’ve never been featured on any show except maybe UFC Unleashed for knocking someone out or finishing someone or something like that. I’ve never been promoted that way, I’ve never had any of that stuff. I have one of the best records in the organization, none of that’s ever happened for me.”
Vick expects to win the remaining three fights on his UFC contract, which would give him 11 victories in 12 Octagon appearances. He believes that will be enough to finally put him on the short list for title contention and an appropriate boost in pay.
As for potential rivals like Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee, two fighters Vick has attempted to recently coax into an in-cage confrontation, he sees himself rising to the top of the division whether they want to be stepping stones for him or not. And if he gets there, he won’t be looking back.
“I’ll tell you what I’m gonna say,” Vick said, when asked what he plans to do with his post-fight interview time should he defeat Trinaldo. “It’ll probably sound better when I say it live, but basically I’m tired of these guys — I’m fixing to try and do like these motherf*ckers did and just skip the ladder. I’m sick of it.
“Chiesa and Kevin Lee don’t want to fight me. Chiesa, first of all, where’s the dignity of a man? You’re supposed to be a fighter and you don’t have the balls to fight someone. You want to say that you don’t want to fight me because I’m ranked below you, okay, that’s understandable. But then you sat here and tried to call out Evan Dunham who’s ranked below me now and now you’re agreeing to fight Anthony Pettis who’s ranked below me too, so that argument goes out the window. Anthony Pettis is 2-5 in his last seven fights and you want to call him out, and you’re agreeing to fight him, and now he’s ranked below me.
“So f*ck these guys, they’ve lost their chance. I’m not picking Kevin Lee and Chiesa anymore, that ship has motherf*cking sailed for them. They ain’t getting an opportunity anymore. I texted Sean Shelby this a while back when we was trying to make the Chiesa fight, I said, ‘Soon I’m going to be ranked above him. When I am ranked above him, then f*ck him.’ Because I’ve begged and practically called this guy for six years in a row now and he won’t f*cking fight me. Well, f*ck you dude. This ship has sailed buddy, you should have jumped on board when you had the chance. So I’m thinking Khabib (Nurmagomedov), I’m thinking Tony Ferguson, I’m thinking McGregor. I’m thinking world title fights. I’m done with these clowns.”