Yes, you read it correctly. Top welterweight prospect Jon Fitch (8-1 UFC) has been dropped from the UFC. Why, you ask? Well, that's an excellent question. Both sides are giving completely different stories.
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 (UFC Undisputed 2009). He went on to say that the dispute has nothing to do with money and that he never caused a problem during his time in the UFC.
Dana White had this to say to Carmichael Dave during “The Carmichael Dave” show on 1140 KHTK in Sacramento:
“No, no, no. It has nothing to do with an agreement,” White said, correcting Carmichael when the host began to imply that Fitch was released because of reports he wouldn’t sign an agreement that would give the UFC lifetime rights to his likeness for the purpose of making video games.
“It doesn’t have to do with Jon Fitch, either,” continued White. “I like Jon Fitch. I’ve never had a bad word with Jon Fitch. The problem is with the idiots that run AKA. I won’t use any names; the idiots know who they are.”
Later, when another Fitch quote about having to give up their whole lives in a contract without seeing any compensation to his family if he should die, White had this to say:
“What’s with this whole lives? Do you know how much Jon Fitch made for the Georges St. Pierre fight? Where the hell else could Jon Fitch go right now and make the money he made? He made $169,000 for that night for that fight. Where’s he going to make that kind of money in one night?”
Christian Wellisch (who recently suffered a first-round KO loss to rising UFC heavyweight Shane Carwin) was also released yesterday. Other stars from the American Kickboxing Academy that may be in trouble are Josh Koscheck and Cain Velasquez.
Koscheck is expected to be safe until at least after he fights Yoshida as the headliner of the "Fight For The Troops" card on Dec. 10, but Velasquez, one of the sport's rising stars, is clearly not on the best terms with White. White said Zinkin (management team) 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."
As you can see, White has basically declared war on the AKA and those represented by DeWayne Zinkin and Bob Cook. He warned prospects in AKA that are trying to get into the UFC that they are basically already on shaky ground just by training there.
I understand where both sides are coming from, but White seems like he is acting out of anger once again. We have seen him do things like this to Tito Ortiz, Andrei Arlovski, and Roger Huerta just to name a few. The Fertitas need to jump in a fix this situation immediately because other companies with weaker welterweight divisions like Affliction would love to grab UFC stars like Fitch and Koscheck to call their own. White honestly doesn't care, though:
"Listen, this is just like any other job," he said. "You don’t want to work for me? There are plenty of other opportunities out there. The t-shirt guys are trying to start their own business. Get in business with them. Do it with somebody else. If you don’t want to be in business with me? Then you don’t have to be in business with me. It’s simple as that.”
One fighter that dodged a bullet was Mike Swick. He reportedly called White and expressed interest in fighting for the UFC. White confirmed this during the interview.
This could also impact the rumored signing of Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le, as he trains at AKA, as well. Frank and Lorenzo, once again, can you fix the mess that White has gotten the UFC into?
UPDATE: Jon Fitch is back in the UFC after signing a contract for the video game. He had the following to say
“Communication kind of broke down with Dana (White) so we talked with Lorenzo. (I) just got off the phone with him and we came to an agreement. We’re going to move ahead and I’ll be back in the UFC. We’re going to sign off on the video game and I’m back.”
“It was never even about the agreement or the contract. It was the approach that we felt Dana was being a little bit hot-headed and was threatening us right off the bat. It didn’t seem like a professional way of doing things.”
As you can see, Lorenzo Fertita fixed this problem, and not Dana. One quote I've always lived by is "If you want things done right the first time, always go to the top monkey." Thank you Lorenzo for clearing this up and getting one of the best Welterweights in the world back in the Octagon.