Initially, Lorenz Larkin believed that signing his next fight contract was going to be a pretty easy process.
Larkin (18-5) had one fight left on his deal when the UFC approached him with a welterweight matchup against Neil Magny at UFC 202 on Aug. 20. Larkin figured the UFC would offer a new contract, as it usually does when an athlete has one fight left, and that he would probably sign it.
As it turned out, the UFC did offer Larkin a new deal, but the terms were not what he expected.
“The deal they brought to me was, you know, not attractive whatsoever,” Larkin told ESPN’s 5ive Rounds podcast. “It really was nothing.
“I was surprised they let me fight out my last fight. I kind of took it as a slap in the face, because Neil Magny has been on such a tear, I felt like for them to let me fight my last fight on my contract was kind of like UFC betting against me. ‘Oh, he’ll fight this beast who has been on a tear, he’ll lose, and he won’t have any leverage.’ I love gambling. So that’s pretty much what it boils down to.”
Larkin knocked out Magny in the first round, improving his record to 4-1 in his past five fights.
Despite that performance, Larkin, 30, says the UFC never reached out with a new offer. The promotion’s exclusive negotiating window ended Nov. 20, meaning Larkin is free to field other offers.
“My thing is, I just want a promotion that is going to fight for me — that wants to promote me,” Larkin said. “It’s not all about the money. A lot of it is about marketing. I feel like I’m an exciting fighter. I’m not a boring fighter you want to be fighting in your first fight, at 1:30 p.m. when the doors first open. I feel like my style is really attractive to fans.”
Larkin says as a UFC fighter, he has paid with his own money to attend fights for the sole purpose of interacting with fans. He says it was his choice and that he’s not complaining, but that he wishes the promotion would have shown interest in doing it for him in order to build his brand.
Ultimately, Larkin said he is hopeful a deal will be reached within the next two weeks. He says there are other options available in the current mixed martial arts landscape, and although he wasn’t set on exploring them at first, he’s happy they are there.
“I’m pretty sure there are guys out there who are just addicted to the name, just the whole thing of ‘I’m a UFC fighter,'” Larkin said, “With me, that has never been the case.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the UFC or a chicken shack somewhere else — to me, it’s whoever I’m fighting is the best in the world. Now, at this point, it’s not only the UFC who has the best in the world, the best fighters in the world. It’s starting to spread out a little bit.”