Kevin Iole has for years chronicled MMA with great depth for Yahoo Sports. In this must-read piece for any true fan of the sport, he details how UFC featherweight Nik Lentz (24-5-2 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) came to spend his $65,000 ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus vs. Evan Dunham at UFC on Fox 2 on January 28, 2012.
Do yourself a favor and when you have a few minutes to spare, click the link at the bottom and read the entire piece.
The story begins Christmas eve 2011, when manager Monte Cox called to inform Lentz that he had been released from his UFC contract, following a win over Andre Winner and a loss to Mark Bocek, neither of which was fan friendly, or UFC president Dana White friendly.
Meanwhile, Nik’s father Jon had just refused a $100,000 bladder cancer treatment in order to be able to finance Nik’s sister’s medical school.
“You talk about something tough to take,” said Jon of the release. “He had a pretty good record. He was doing well. And they cut him. I couldn’t understand it.”
However, before the release could be processed, Paul Sass was injured while training for a fight with Evan Dunham, and UFC VP for Talent Relations Joe Silva asked Lentz if he wanted the fight.
Although he lost the fight due to a cut in the second, Lentz brought it with a fury, winning a $65,000 Fight of the Night performance bonus, and had a contract extension promised in the ring after the fight by Silva.
While smart fighters bank bonuses, and others buy fancy cars, Nik Lentz had other plans.
“I took that $65,000 and I didn’t pay my manager’s fees or anything else and I called my Dad and said, ‘Now, you’re having that surgery,'” he said.
“I knew that was the only thing I could do with it. I’ve been poor lots of time in my life. I can live without money. But my Dad and I were so close; we were such a close family. I didn’t know if I could live without my Dad. It was an easy choice.”
Lentz has since gone on to drop from lightweight to the UFC’s featherweight division with the help of Mike Dolce, and in the process has won three fights in a row.
His father is confident his son will get a title shot in the future, and plans to be in his corner for it…