The following is an open letter posted on xtremecouture.com:
I feel the need to expound on my relationship with my so-called “Hollywood agent.” I hoped my explanation of Matt Walker, my sports agent, at the Xtreme Couture press conference would be enough to shift the focus and any blame for my decision to resign from Zuffa and the UFC organization from him and place it squarely where it belongs. It was 100% my decision based on six years of feeling slighted, overlooked, used, unappreciated, and generally not wanted by the company. I hope this sets the record straight, for although I know Matt can take the heat, he does not deserve it.
I have stated I’ve been doing movies and work in the TV and motion picture industry for six years now. I’ve been involved in seven motion pictures and several TV shows in that time. That has always been one of the perks of being a professional athlete, but has never gotten in the way of my real passions – training and fighting. As I’ve progressed in acting and at the time was retired from fighting, I was seeking real Hollywood representation in the form of an agent, a role my former manager Jeremy Lappen had been doing his best to squeeze in between fight manager duties.
While preparing to compete in the professional Submission League (PSL), I met Matt Walker, a sports agent and owner of Paragon Sports. He represented primarily baseball players, most notably David Delucia, of the Cleveland Indians. He was volunteering to help the PSL out of his friendship with its organizers, Rico Chiapparelli and John Myers. Upon meeting Matt and David, our conversation turned to hunting, something both David and I share an affinity for. I told them I’d just returned from an elk hunt in Colorado and that not only my UFC Hummer, but all my hunting gear, including my bow, had been stolen from the grocery store on the way home from the airport. Matt was amazed by the story and stated he had connections through David in the hunting industry and he’d get me a new bow. One month later, I was sporting a new top of the line Hoyt compound bow. That is the kind of person Matt is: selfless, generous, and willing to help in any way he can.
Through that Hoyt bow, Matt and I developed a relationship and began to talk about branding and endorsements, my career and the careers of the fighters I work with. Matt immediately started working to secure endorsements for me, feeling that even though I was retired, I still had a lot of name recognition and marketability in the sports world. He also started working on behalf of other Xtreme Couture fighters without compensation. A more formal business relationship was forged. Within two months, not only did I have some new endorsement opportunities, including Hoyt Archery, but Matt’s company Paragon Sports was absorbed into The Gersh Agency and became its new Sports Division. Standing stable in the Hollywood community with a top client list, they have all the influence of a big agency, while maintaining that personal small agency feel. Matt brought me to meet the agency executives and staff, and like so many things in my life, this felt meant to be. Everyone was great and I felt comfortable and at home.
Matt and I began to embark on a whirlwind tour, not only in Hollywood, but in the fighting world as well. Shortly thereafter, I accepted the offer to come out of retirement and fight Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight title, and Gersh began lining up meeting after meeting with the appropriate producers and casting directors to get me film work. Matt Walker accompanied me to every one of those meetings. I’d ask, “Who’s this we’re meeting with and what’s he done?” Matt would look at me and shrug. “I have no idea Bud, but here’s what he’s done,” he’d say, handing me an Internet printout with the credits of the person we were on our way to see. Matt was the farthest thing from Hollywood. He wasn’t superficial or concerned with “who’s who.” He was a jock just like me, a ball player in college. He is one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever been around. He’s been a very valuable addition to Xtreme Couture this year, helping us not only expand our brand and secure my endorsements, but spearhead the formation of the Xtreme Couture GI Foundation. He has been my personal liaison at Gersh, championing my goals to all the staff and working directly with my real movie and TV agent Bret Norisberg at Gersh to land me two movies and a recurring TV role so far, with many more opportunities on the horizon.
In short, Matt Walker has become a close friend and confidante. Under the pressure and scrutiny of the decision I’ve recently made, Matt has had the blame unfairly heaped upon him from UFC president Dana White, who claimed, metaphorically at first, to have “bitchslapped” Matt. Later, White even stated to UFC Fight Club members to have actually physically hit Matt, something I assure you never happened. They have have physically never met. You tell me who’s acting “Hollywood.”
Matt Walker has been a consummate professional and represented me with class, integrity, and dignity, even in the face of extreme disrespect. For that, I can’t thank him enough and will be eternally grateful.