The mixed martial arts world reacted with great shock on Wednesday when UFC president Dana White revealed a list of 16 fighters released from the promotion with former welterweight contender Jon Fitch leading the way.
Fitch fought for the UFC welterweight title in 2008 and has been ranked among the top fighters in the division for several years. He amassed a 14-3-1 record as well, but with a 1-2-1 record over his last four fights, Fitch found himself without a job this week.
White explained when speaking to reporters from Bleacher Report on Tuesday why Fitch was let go, and he says it was nothing more than simple business.
"This is a f—king sport just like NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA or any other sport. The Green Bay Packers just cut (Charles) Woodson, and a million other guys are getting cut, traded and everything else. Jon Fitch is ranked No. 9, whether you think it's right, it's wrong, the rankings are bulls—t or whatever, he's ranked No. 9 right now. Now this isn't a case where Jon Fitch was ranked No. 9, No. 7, No. 6, No. 4, No. 2 and then we cut him. He was ranked No. 1, he fought for the title, then he was ranked No. 2, then he was ranked No. 3, 6, 7 and now he's 9. That's called the downside of your career," White explained.
"He's lost two fights, one draw and won one fight (in his last four)."
When Fitch's release was revealed, there were a million conspiracy theories as to why he was let go from the UFC. Was it Fitch's wrestling style that resulted in more than a few decisions that traditionally were not very exciting? Did it have to do with a contract dispute that Fitch had with the UFC a few years ago where he didn't want to sign over likeness rights to the promotion for a video game that resulted in his short-term termination?
White shoots down all of the accusations being launched at him following Fitch's dismissal and says it had nothing to do with a personal grudge or anything else. According to the UFC president, Fitch was a fighter making a lot of money and he was likely headed to the preliminary card on the downside of his career.
His release meant nothing more and nothing less.
"Jon Fitch gets paid a lot of money to put Jon Fitch on a f—king prelim, or to put Jon Fitch over here. The difference between Jon Fitch and Charles Woodson that just got cut, Jon Fitch can get a couple more fights and come back to the UFC. Happens every f—king day. There's nobody in the history of this business that I hated worse than Tito Ortiz. Every time I'd sit down in my chair and watch a fight, I'd be like 'beat his ass'. That's how bad I hated this guy. He ended his career in the UFC," said White.
"I don't have one ounce of hate for Jon Fitch. I don't hate the guy at all, I don't even dislike him. I like Jon Fitch."
White says the door isn't closed for Jon Fitch to return to the UFC, but he can happily go out now and test the free-agent market and see where he can land. This wasn't personal, it was just about business, and White promises it won't be the last fighter they have to part ways with.
"He can go out on the free market and find out exactly what he's worth," said White. "This isn't the first guy we've ever cut."
Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.