In a shocking development, former UFC welterweight top contender Jon Fitch was released by the UFC late Wednesday night. It appears the issues concern signging an agreement that would have given the organization exclusive lifetime rights to Fitch’s likeness for upcoming UFC video games. When Fitch’s management tried to negotiate different terms other than the UFC’s take it or leave it deal, Fitch was subsequently released.
“This is like over the course of two days, three days,” Fitch told MMAWeekly.com about his release. “It had to do with Dana (White) calling my managers and immediately saying, ‘we need to get him to sign this contract’ and ‘it’s a big favor to me.’ Then we asked him, ‘Why do you need this contract signed?’
“Then we finally asked, after reading through the contract, why can’t we negotiate for different terms? Because it asked me for a lifetime contract for the video games, so they would have exclusive rights to use our likeness for these video games and we couldn’t go and do any other video games ever again in our lifetime.”
It appears that the UFC was trying to bully Fitch into a corner, and it is highly likely that they will do the same to other fighters. Things like this have been going on for years with the UFC. It has always been a “my way or the highway” mentality with the MMA powerhouse.
“So basically we said we weren’t cool with that deal and why can’t we do it for five or 10 years? Why does it have to be a lifetime deal? Their next response was, ‘either you guys are in or you’re out’ and ‘sign this or you’re going to get dropped from the UFC,'” Fitch added. “So we heard that and we didn’t even think they were serious. Why would you want to release fighters at our level over something like that? Doesn’t make any sense.
“Within two phone calls, it got to ‘sign this or you guys are out.'”
Fitch, who had two fights remaining on his UFC contract, had just turned in his fight agreement to the UFC on Tuesday night to face Akihiro Gono at UFC 94. The UFC immediately voided that agreement and Fitch’s contract.
The American Kickboxing Academy fighter was certainly interested in negotiating a new contract. However, he knew that there have been many fighters before him that had difficulty negotiating new deals with the UFC, but Fitch never thought that he would be left for dead over a video game.
“I had two fights left on my contract, but they always put a clause in the contract that if you lose a fight, they’re able to release you at any time after a loss,” Fitch told “Sports Rage” host Garbriel Morency. “That’s pretty standard with any organization, but it’s pretty incredible that they’d go to those lengths for something like this, over a video game.”