MMAMania.com has issued some astounding news in the last couple of hours:
Former number one UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch was today handed his walking papers for refusing to sign an agreement that would give the promotion exclusive lifetime video game rights to his name and likeness, MMAMania.com can exclusively confirm.
Christian Wellisch — who also didn’t ink the paperwork — was also released. Others who do not sign the agreement could also be let go in the future.
Furthermore, it is reported that there are likely more fighters that have refused to sign the agreement. On some of the popular Internet MMA forums, Josh Koscheck and Cain Valesquez are being rumored to be among these other fighters that could potentially be cut. Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports is also reporting that Koscheck and Valesquez are on their way out too:
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.”
The UFC is now willing to cut top level fighters over a video game? This is beyond ridiculous on the part of Zuffa. Quite frankly, asking a fighter to give lifetime rights to their name and likeness is almost fascist. No reasonable person could sign such an agreement. And for the UFC to cut guys like Fitch and Wellisch for their refusal to sign over their name and likeness is a scar on the sport.
What will Zuffa demand next? The trademark of fighter's nicknames or body artwork? If Zuffa goes through with this behavior and shows the door to such talented guys as Fitch, then there will be only one person in the world happy about it: Affliction VP, Tom Atencio.