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Zuffa Stunner: UFC drops Jon Fitch, AKA fighters

    Wed, 2008-11-19 22:28 — Bevois

    By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports

    A bitterly angry Dana White said Wednesday the Ultimate Fighting Championship has cut highly regarded welterweight contender Jon Fitch and is not going to do business with any fighters who are part of the American Kickboxing Academy team in San Jose, Calif.

    The outspoken UFC president said shortly after landing in Hawaii on Wednesday that he no longer wants to work with AKA fighters or those represented by DeWayne Zinkin and Bob Cook.

    White said he excepted AKA welterweight Mike Swick from that group because he said Swick called him and told him he wants to fight for the UFC. But Fitch and heavyweight Christian Wellisch were cut on Wednesday, and heavyweight prospect Cain Velasquez and welterweight Josh Koscheck could be next.

    “We’re looking for guys who want to work with us and not against us, and frankly I’m just so [expletive] sick of this [expletive] it’s not even funny,” White said from Honolulu, where he flew Wednesday from Toronto to hold a news conference to announce the B.J. Penn-Georges St. Pierre fight for UFC 94 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.

    “Affliction is still out there trying to build its company. Let [Fitch] go work with them. Let him see what he thinks of those [expletives]. [Expletive] him. These guys aren’t partners with us. [Expletive] them. All of them, every last [expletive] one of them.”

    Fitch said Wednesday the dispute was over his reluctance to sign a lifetime contract to allow his name and likeness to be used in a video game the UFC is planning with THQ. He said the dispute has nothing to do with money and that he never caused a problem during his time in the UFC.

    He said he simply didn’t understand the need to sign a lifetime contract, particularly since it would not pay his family in the event of his death.

    “Working for free and selling our rights away for lifetime, that’s a little different,” said Fitch, who said he hasn’t spoken with White but plans to call him. “We tried to negotiate five- or 10-year deals with them, but it wasn’t good enough. It was all or nothing. He wanted our lifetime. He wanted our souls forever.”

    White said the AKA fighters “aren’t partners with us” and said they don’t understand what the UFC is trying to do for the sport. White said the UFC’s current success was because of long hours he and partner Lorenzo Fertitta have put in trying to build the

    company and the sport of mixed martial arts.

    White complained that he has to make frequent sacrifices in his personal life and is away from his family for long stretches because of his commitment to growing the UFC. He said the AKA fighters don’t understand the things UFC management is trying to do and said they’ll learn how tough things are in the poor economy.

    “There are a lot of guys who help us and work with us and are great partners with us, and they’re the ones we’re going to remember and take care of,” White said. “Do these guys understand what is going on in this world? I’ll tell you, this economy is [expletive] up. It’s totally [expletive] up. It’s bad, real, real bad. The [television] networks are in trouble and don’t have money. The sponsors are in trouble. and they have no money. If they don’t have money, they go out of business.

    “It’s a whole other world out there, believe me, and let these guys go out there and see what they find.”

    White said he took great care of Fitch and said with bonuses and purse, Fitch made $169,000 for his welterweight title fight loss to St. Pierre at UFC 87 in Minneapolis in August. Fitch (17-3 with 1 no-contest) did not dispute that salary figure. He said the UFC “has taken care of me and you’ve never heard me complain about money. This is a respect thing.”

    Fitch said he thought there should room to negotiate on these contracts but said the UFC would not budge.

    He said he understood it was highly unlikely that another company would want to put him in a video game but said it was only reasonable that he not tie his rights up for life.

    White said he flew to San Jose in the summer to talk with the AKA fighters, but Fitch said the discussion was about a merchandising agreement.

    “He wanted us to sign that merchandising agreement, and it was not a very good agreement,” Fitch said. “There was not really a reason for us to sign it. The first thing they brought to us was for us to sign all of our rights away for everything forever. It was for very small compensation, and there was no compensation for family members if we were to die.

    “We could die and they could make memorial figurines and stuff and make thousands, millions of dollars, and our families wouldn’t see a penny of it. The way they bring the contracts and stuff to us, I don’t know, it’s just not how business is done.”

    Zinkin also represents UFC light heavyweight Chuck Liddell, though Liddell does not fight for AKA. White said he has been “beefing with Zinkin for years” and said he had to call Liddell, one of his closest friends, and tell him to get Zinkin to back off.

    According to White, Liddell said Zinkin represented him on sponsorships and he would negotiate his own deals with the UFC.

    Fitch said he has been a loyal UFC employee and said, “I’d only like a little bit of respect for the blood I shed for this company.”

    White said he has sacrificed more than anyone to build the UFC into the powerhouse it has become and that he’s tired of athletes who don’t want to “get with the program.”

    Velasquez, one of the sport’s rising stars, clearly is on the outs with White. White said Zinkin wanted standard language that is part of every UFC fighter’s contract removed from Velasquez’s deal.

    “Can you believe that?” White said. “Chuck Liddell has that language in his contract. Randy Couture has it. Anderson Silva has it. And Cain [expletive] Velasquez, with two [expletive] fights, wants us to change it for him? That’s [expletive] nuts. He can get the [expletive] out.

    “I’m not a douche bag and I do a lot for these guys, a lot more than any of you will ever know. We’re in a horrible time in the economy now, and every guy with two nickels to rub together is making a run at us. We’ve worked too hard, given too much, to let certain guys come in and [expletive] with that.”

    Fitch said he’s not trying to mess with anything and that he simply wants to fight. He said he always has been respectful in all his dealings with the UFC and said he can’t understand the position he finds himself in without ever having spoken to White.

    He plans to call White to discuss the situation but wasn’t sure what move to make.

    “I’m more than willing to work with them, but I don’t see why we have to give up our whole lives for this,” Fitch said. “Why not a time limit? If we did a 10-year deal with them, is that that unreasonable? I don’t understand how this happened, honestly. It’s tough.”

    UFC drops Fitch, AKA fighters

    DeltaSigChi4's picture

    Bad for the sport™.

    Dana White IS indeed a douchebag, among other things. :mad:

    E

    Your rating: None
    three harmonies's picture

    White will be the downfall of the UFC. Mark my words.

    Your rating: None
    overcat's picture

    three harmonies;23615 wrote:
    White will be the downfall of the UFC. Mark my words.

    actually Zuffa saved the sport, after the UFC's original owner SEG damaged the sport's image.

    Your rating: None
    LovatoJr's picture

    Wow, crazy!

    How can you just drop a guy that is 8-1 in the UFC and just went 5 rounds with GSP. That's not right.

    Your rating: None
    chernobyl kid's picture

    From USA Today:

    This is not an attack on Jon Fitch. Its not an attack on any one fighter. We have chosen not to do business with this camp called AKA. These guys have never, ever, ever treated us like partners. Theyre always fighting over stupid, stupid (stuff) and negotiating over stuff that makes no sense. Theyre negotiating like theyve got Mel Gibson and this thing is the biggest movie ever being made. You know what Im saying? The reality is, were not even sanctioned in Massachusetts or New York (and) were going into all these different countries trying to do these different things. And Ive got these guys that basically dont want to be partners with me. Youve got morons ?" morons ?" that are running these fighters lives. But to tell you the truth, one of the fighters from AKA called me and said, Listen, I dont care what these managers say or what theyre doing. I make my own decisions and my decision is, Im with you. Im your partner, Im in. And this was before we even told AKA we wouldnt be doing business with them any more. So this really isnt an attack on Jon Fitch or any personal fighter. Were just choosing not to do business with AKA any more. Were not going to do business with them. And listen, theres other guys out there that they can go do business with; theyre just not going to do business with me. Now theres rumors out there, I know, about, Its over a video game deal. Its over the ancillary rights agreement. Its over this, that.Its over a lot of different things. Its not one specific fighter or one specific thing. Its about a lot of different things with a lot of these fighters. And you know what? This is more than just AKA. Theres other camps out there that were having trouble doing business with. And at the end of the day, this is a business. We run a business just like any other business. You come in, you do your job with your company and you get paid. And the guys that dont want to do business with you ?" then go work somewhere else. Its as easy as that. You dont have to do business with us. Theres other people out there you can do it with.

    Your rating: None
    three harmonies's picture

    I understand what Zuffa did, and props to them. If they are really interested in maintaining the integrity of their company, and the sport of MMA, they should get rid of the whitetrash hillbilly idiot White. Period.

    Your rating: None
    overcat's picture

    three harmonies;23624 wrote:
    I understand what Zuffa did, and props to them. If they are really interested in maintaining the integrity of their company, and the sport of MMA, they should get rid of the whitetrash hillbilly idiot White. Period.

    you understand what Zuffa did and give them props, but one sentence later you are criticizing one of the founders/owners who is happens to be the president (i.e. - Dana White is the one that saved the sport and made it what it is today). before Dana got involved and made it go mainstream, it was just some sideshow that took place in the back hills of Alabama, Wyoming, and other states with next to no athletic commissions.

    Your rating: None
    KibunInc's picture

    Dana White did save the sport and make it what it is today. But sometimes a company's strong point is also its weakness. I would not sign my rights away for life.

    Your rating: None
    DeltaSigChi4's picture

    I personally don't believe Dana saved a damn thing. Dana had nothing to do with SHOOTO®, nothing to do with PrideFC® [with the exception of her literal dismantling], nothing to do with anything besides boxercising.

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    Your rating: None
    overcat's picture

    DeltaSigChi4;23634 wrote:
    I personally don't believe Dana saved a damn thing. Dana had nothing to do with SHOOTO®, nothing to do with PrideFC® [with the exception of her literal dismantling], nothing to do with anything besides boxercising.

    E

    he got the sport regulated in Nevada, New Jersey, and California (the three most important athletic commissions) at a point when Congress was pushing to illegalize the sport.

    Your rating: None
    DeltaSigChi4's picture

    Well, that's quite the revisionist tale.

    California just sanctioned the sport in the last years, WELL after anyone anywhere wanted to criminalise or illegalise it. So that leaves Nevada and New Jersey to be used as examples of the amazing and wonderful man that Dana White is, single-handedly [:rolleyes:] getting the sport sanctioned, saving her from the pitfalls of Congressional oversight abyss. Well, not exactly. The United States Congress was NEVER going to make MMA "illegal". It was always a soapbox issue with conservatives like John McCain [R-AZ] who knew very well that he was never going to get the damn thing even debated on the floor nonetheless put up to vote in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, and signed by the sitting President [Clinton]. To think otherwise is absurd.

    Dana White didn't save a damn thing.

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    Your rating: None
    overcat's picture

    DeltaSigChi4;23637 wrote:
    Well, that's quite the revisionist tale.

    California just sanctioned the sport in the last years, WELL after anyone anywhere wanted to criminalise or illegalise it. So that leaves Nevada and New Jersey to be used as examples of the amazing and wonderful man that Dana White is, single-handedly [:rolleyes:] getting the sport sanctioned, saving her from the pitfalls of Congressional oversight abyss. Well, not exactly. The United States Congress was NEVER going to make MMA "illegal". It was always a soapbox issue with conservatives like John McCain [R-AZ] who knew very well that he was never going to get the damn thing even debated on the floor nonetheless put up to vote in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, and signed by the sitting President [Clinton]. To think otherwise is absurd.

    Dana White didn't save a damn thing.

    E

    New Jersey was the first. it laid the groundwork for Nevada and California (follow the links in the chain). without Zuffa (led by Dana White), the UFC would still be hosting shows in the backwoods of Alabama and we wouldn't be watching it from Manadalay Bay or MGM, much less watching it on cable TV or reading about it on ESPN.

    Your rating: None
    DeltaSigChi4's picture

    We don't know what would have happened if the boxercising opportunist Dana White had never convinced his loaded friends from High School to purchase the UFC® from SEG. But we do know that SHOOTO® would have still existed [is it not MMA?]. We do know that PrideFC® would have existed [was it not MMA] and more likely than not been bought up by someone that wasn't going to immediately dismantle her just because they hate competition. The sport would have easily developed and thrived without Dana White, just as boxing would have existed and prizefights would have taken place without the likes of the criminal Don King. What's the difference between King and White? Not much. They both leech off of REAL fighters, although King may actually pay his fighters more than White does.

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    Your rating: None
    overcat's picture

    DeltaSigChi4;23641 wrote:
    We don't know what would have happened if the boxercising opportunist Dana White had never convinced his loaded friends from High School to purchase the UFC® from SEG. But we do know that SHOOTO® would have still existed [is it not MMA?]. We do know that PrideFC® would have existed [was it not MMA] and more likely than not been bought up by someone that wasn't going to immediately dismantle her just because they hate competition. The sport would have easily developed and thrived without Dana White, just as boxing would have existed and prizefights would have taken place without the likes of the criminal Don King. What's the difference between King and White? Not much. They both leech off of REAL fighters, although King may actually pay his fighters more than White does.

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    this is what we DO know:

    -SEG was losing money and couldn't get the sport regulated.
    -Zuffa saved the UFC from sinking into an abyss and got the sport regulated.
    -Shooto and PRIDE are Japanese promotions, so what do they have to do with saving MMA in this country?
    -PRIDE was poorly run and couldn't even maintain a t.v. deal in Japan, which is crazy about MMA.
    -Zuffa has made MMA go mainstream in this country.
    -KOTC is the only noteworthy MMA promotion that was around before Zuffa, but they never changed the sport in any significant way and ended up getting bought out by the now defunct ProEite.

    Your rating: None
    DeltaSigChi4's picture

    I didn't realize that only Mixed Martial Arts in the country of the United States of America mattered. Or that SEG had no other interested parties in buying out their controlling share of UFC®. I must've read No Holds Barred: History of Mixed Martial Arts while hallucinating. Or maybe Clyde Gentry just made everything up and really was out to take credit away from the boxercising master.

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    Your rating: None
    overcat's picture

    DeltaSigChi4;23648 wrote:
    I didn't realize that only Mixed Martial Arts in the country of the United States of America mattered. Or that SEG had no other interested parties in buying out their controlling share of UFC®. I must've read No Holds Barred: History of Mixed Martial Arts while hallucinating. Or maybe Clyde Gentry just made everything up and really was out to take credit away from the boxercising master.

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    -Zuffa got MMA regulated in this country, so yes, foreign promotions are irrelevant in the efforts of getting MMA regulated in this country.

    -it doesn't matter if SEG had other parties that were interested. Zuffa is the group that stepped up and made it happen.

    Your rating: None
    DeltaSigChi4's picture

    I enjoy Mixed Martial Arts from around the world, not just TUF®, so it's actually irrelevant to the sport as a whole what became of the sport in this particular country. It is to say, if MLS® succeeds or fails is irrelevant to what becomes of football in the world. It's a world sport, not an American sport. Realize this.

    It doesn't matter if another group of investors who actually would give a shit about fighters, would give a shit about the sport as a whole [and not just about lining the pockets of Italian-Americans in bad suits], and would name a president that would refrain from saying "fuck him" when referring to a professional Mixed Martial Artist and employee of his company? Wow. It doesn't matter. Using that same logic, one cannot give credit to ZUFFA, LLC. for "saving" anything, considering that it doesn't matter that it was them that took over from SEG®. Anyone taking over would've had no different results, right? :rolleyes:

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    Your rating: None
    KibunInc's picture

    Everyone here knows that I am not a big fan of Dana White but I have to say that he took the UFC from a small production and made it extremely sucessful. If it was not for the sucess of the UFC there would not be so many MMA gyms and BJJ gyms around this country. Yes there was Pride and Shooto but they were overseas and not watched too much in the USA.

    Brazil had Vale Tudo and Thai land had MMA many years before the first UFC (SEG) and hardly no one heard of it in the USA. The UFC brought it all mainstream for us.

    With that said I wish Dana White would get a good PR spokesperson instead of him.

    Your rating: None
    wutang's picture

    I have a friend who's cornered guys in Pride/Dream and guys in the UFC - says the UFC takes great care of their fighters. I'm pretty sure there is something here that we don't know about.

    I wish Dana would speak in more of a professional manner then cuss. It makes him seem as if he lacks a decent vocabulary to express himself. It's sad.

    Your rating: None
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