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Cosmo Alexandre voices discontent with ONE Championship, asks for better pay or release

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Cosmo Alexandre scored the biggest win of his MMA career in May 2019, stopping Sage Northcutt in seconds.
ONE Championship

Cosmo Alexandre is not happy with his current ONE Championship contract.

The Brazilian striker signed a six-fight deal with the Asia-based MMA promotion in 2018, stopping Elliot Compton in a kickboxing bout in his debut and then losing to Nieky Holzken. His biggest moment in the ONE ring came in May 2019 when he was paired up with promotional newcomer Sage Northcutt in an MMA bout.

Alexandre won with a brutal knockout in just 29 seconds, improving his MMA record to 8-1. But this past weekend, he indicated his good work wasn’t followed by the pay increase he hoped to earn.

In a Twitter message, Alexandre complained about money and ask for his release.

Speaking with MMA Fighting this past Saturday, Alexandre said he was offered a fight with Yushin Okami at the ONE Century show, which took place in October 2019 in Tokyo, but he turned it down.

“I told them I’d fight, but my purse had to be different,” he said. “Okami was coming off three losses, he was going to do his last fight before retiring, and it would be in Tokyo. They were setting me up, right? I’m not going. They would give him (the win) if I didn’t kill him. I said no – only if they raised my purse.”

Alexandre said ONE again offered Okami in a different location, but he once again responded that he would only take this match for more money. The Brazilian hired Malki Kawa as his manager “to see if he helped me out” of the contract, but that didn’t look promising.

“To sum it up, I’m asking for a pay raise, they don’t want to do it, and I told them, ‘Since I’m not worth what I’m asking, let me go,’” Alexandre said. “They don’t want that either. They don’t want to give me a better purse and don’t want to end the contract. … I have to wait and see what happens, and they won’t let me go. They won’t pay me more and won’t let me out.”

ONE Championship hasn’t held any cards since the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this year. The martial arts company announced on Sunday night “it has added US $70 million to its war chest, bringing total capital to US$346 million,” but also laid off 20 percent of its “total worldwide headcount.”

Alexandre said his ONE contract states his purse is the same for every fight on his six- bout deal, and he feels that’s unfair.

“It doesn’t make much sense,” he said. “I know it’s my mistake, I signed the contract. Signing that contract was my mistake, but I explained to (ONE CEO) Chatri (Sityodtong)… I called him and said, ‘I apologize for saying this, but when I signed this contract with you, two years ago, no one knew ONE Championship in Brazil.’ Nobody knew. So much that ONE Championship has a Brazilian champion and nobody knows (him).

“They money I agreed to, the contract (I signed), was thinking that it was a small to medium-sized promotion. Months after I signed the contract, they started signing a bunch of great guys; the best strikers in the world are fighting at ONE now. If I were to fight Vitor (Belfort) it would be for the same purse I fought Sage, and that doesn’t make sense. I tried to explain to them and they were like, it doesn’t change. They keep saying how much they respect athletes, that ONE is different and whatnot, but it’s all the same.”

Alexandre is not necessarily done with fighting for ONE Championship. If the pay is right, he would be glad to re-sign for more MMA, kickboxing and muay Thai fights. The way things are moving right now, however, doesn’t indicate they are close to getting that deal done.

“Thinking about safety, the ONE Championship contract is safer than any other promotion,” Alexandre said. “If I sign a new deal with ONE for 10 fights in three years, I know I will do those 10 fights in three years. If I have a four-fight contract with the UFC and something bad happens and I lose the first two, I get cut. ONE is safer in that aspect, but they have to pay me what is right, what I think I deserve to get paid. If they don’t think I deserve that, let me go.”