It was announced earlier today that Nohelin Hernandez will replace Sean O’Malley and fight Marlon Vera this weekend at UFC 239.
However, it would appear that Hernandez wasn’t the first fighter the UFC approached to take the short notice opportunity against Vera, as that first chance allegedly went to Drako Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was apparently ready to accept the short notice fight, but was denied the opportunity by the promotion he is currently contracted to and that promotion is King Of The Cage (KOTC).
Brian Butler-Au of Sucker Punch Entertainment, who now represents Rodriguez, shared the fighter’s story through Instagram:
Our man @drakorodriguez got the call up from @ufc this weekend to fight short notice next week. Terry at @kingofthecage decided to block Drako from achieving this dream because he is a local draw and ticket seller under contract. Drako was already in this contract when we took over managing him so we weren’t able to change it but I have never seen a regional show block someone’s career/dream like this especially for the peanuts KOTC is paying him. PS. The threat of ruining my potential relationship with KOTC by going public on this means nothing to me if this is how you treat fighters. In my 12+ years of running SP and having worked with 7 @ufc champions, 2 @bellatormma champions, 2 @invictafc and countless other regional champions I have never needed or relied on KOTC. Drako was in fact the only client we have ever had with them and will be our last. You have a reputation for a reason and I have mine... I’ll bank on mine.
There has been no comment from KOTC officials as to why Rodriguez was allegedly denied the opportunity to compete at UFC 239.