Before you read this article, I would like to thank Dominique Wooding for taking the time and effort to talk to me about his current contractual/career situation – it is massively appreciated.
Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Dominique “Black Panther” Wooding unleashed a Twitter storm on Cage Warriors this week. It was a stunning move that shocked the MMA world, putting them on blast for refusing to allow him to sign with another promotion and for “conflicts of interest” with upper management. Wooding,
however, he very kindly took the time to exclusively answer me all of the burning questions around this controversy that has engulfed Cage Warriors:
K: Do you think there’s a severe conflict of interest between the management of Cage Warriors and other MMA organizations?
D: If there’s a conflict of interest about me getting offered a solid contract from another promotion that’s not the UFC (to better my life), then isn’t there a severe conflict of interest when you have a promoter that’s also a manager, managing his favorite fighters within his promotion, giving them favorable matchups to get into the UFC? Are you telling me that’s no conflicts of interest and double standards? Of course, it is! That’s some underhanded dealings.
They don’t pay the majority of their roster enough to hold down fighters who no longer want to do business with them, knowing that Other promotions present better opportunities to them.
I then asked Dominique whether he had many fights left on his present Cage Warriors contract and whether he had discussions with the upper echelon of Cage Warriors management regarding his desire to go. Wooding confirmed that he has two fights remaining on his contract but that it has been his understanding that Cage Warriors management does not want to release him.
I then asked Dominique point-blank who was preventing him from exploring other opportunities:
K: Can you tell us who is blocking you from leaving the organization?
D: Of course; it’d be the owner, Graham Boylan.
Dom Wooding returned the last question I asked Dom with a fascinating answer, one that feeds into many issues within the MMA industry today:
K: Can you tell us if/from whom you have received offers to leave Cage Warriors?
Dominique had this to say:
D: I have a PFL multi-fight deal at hand, “a good-paying contract I cannot refuse. When you’re not getting paid your worth at one promotion, and another one comes in and offers you so many times more than what you’re getting at your current advertising, you’ll want to jump ship. So what we do is PRIZE FIGHTING.
D: This game does not last long for our fighters. We must get in, take in as much money as we can, and leave the game in one piece. Promoters can promote for years after we’re long gone from the competition. They’ll be making money comfortably, relaxing back while fighters are suffering, trying to make a break for themselves to get to the big bucks.
This insight from a world champion was highly compelling and reality-inducing. The shocking thing is that this testimony from Dominique Wooding and many fighters like him is not new – figures such as Georges St. Pierre have been pointing this sort of thing out for years now. One can only hope that the future changes soon for people like Dominique Wooding and the better.