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Jon Fitch signs video game agreement, is back in UFC

By Zach Arnold | November 20, 2008

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What a hard bargain that was driven here by team AKA. Hard negotiators those folks.

Silly us for actually caring about fighters. However, all of the issues raised in the spat are not silly and will need to be addressed soon enough — that is, if any fighter has the gumption for a real protracted war against UFC, which clearly no one so far has demonstrated. Luke Thomas comments.

I do find that the good cop, bad cop UFC management routine is an amusing spectacle to watch. Almost as amusing as watching other MMA fight camps kiss The Dana’s ass when it comes to business dealings.

Leave it to Total MMA to sum things up: Zuffa is just acting like an employer; Jon Fitch is just acting stupid.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 27 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

27 Responses to “Jon Fitch signs video game agreement, is back in UFC”

  1. Ivan Trembow says:

    From an editorial that I just wrote about this:

    “It would be naive to think that the lifetime merchandising agreements are going to be the final legally ridiculous thing that UFC fighters are going to be forced into signing in the coming months and years.

    The attitude of, “Where else is he going to go?” combined with the lack of a fighters’ union or any form of collective bargaining will ensure that the fighters can’t, as Fitch put it, “stand up for their rights” without permanently crippling their careers. And as long as that’s the case, the UFC is going to continue to prey on that.

    The fact that this has been horrible P.R. for the UFC doesn’t appear to matter to them. They have sent a strong message to any fighter or manager who is even thinking about refusing to sign anything that the UFC orders them to sign in the future. The UFC got what they wanted, and they got it the same way that they often get what they want in contract negotiations: Through fear, intimidation, and making examples out of people.

    It was about a year ago that UFC president Dana White said in an interview that the most important thing for him is to be able to know that his kids don’t have a “sleazeball promoter” for a father. It’s not clear if that’s the case anymore.”

  2. b.d.w. says:

    what happened to fitch and his strong “principles”? what a lark! that fitch is a rock alright! fitch isnt acting stupid, he just came to his senses.

  3. Chris says:

    Well said Ivan.

    Fitch touched on something in his statement that I’m curious about. In the event of a fighters death, would the UFC be legally obligated to pay royalties to surviving family members. If not, then that’s just one more reason why these Zuffa licensing deals
    are unfair.

  4. dave2 says:

    b.d.w, you have to really have balls to stand up on principle to the UFC. When Zuffa uses strong arm mafia tactics of fear, intimidation and making an example out of fighters, most fighters are going to give in. Fitch knew that he was going to lose 75-80% of his sponsorship monies (his words, not mine) if he left the UFC to go elsewhere and Affliction isn’t sticking around for more than one more event. I think Strikeforce would compensate Fitch handsomely but the huge loss in sponsorship revenue and exposure would hurt him. His income was going to take a big hit and that’s why he caved in. Of course on principle, I think that this clause is absolutely absurd and I don’t think anyone should sign a contract with one. But I can understand why Fitch gave into the pressure.

  5. Chuck says:

    Shit, reading that God-awful cloumn at totalMMA, does everybody have the Robber Baron though process of the turn of the last century? Jesus H. Christ! If it wan’t for people stamding up for their rights, then there still wouldn’t be worker’s rights nor unions or benefits or anything of the like. I don;t really blame Fitch for caving in like he did. The man has bills to pay.

    And about douchebags saying “this is America!”. Yeah, it is. But I think these retards are confusing America for China…

  6. Jim Allcorn says:


    Like I said in my earlier post about this situation, Fitch & AKA lost this particular battle ( & without putting up much of a fight apparently, but then neither he nor AKA were prepared for one at this point in time ), but I still believe that there’s a lot more battles to come & down the line we’ll see who wins the war.

    Also, with these things getting so much press & attention, how much longer will it be before someone in the government decides to do a really thorough examination of how exactly Zuffa does business & what’s legal & what’s not? Careers & reputations have been built on less …

  7. Darceyou says:

    I’m sickened by Dana’s behavior. Fitch is an awesome fighter and good for the sport. I always blew off the comments about Dana. Not any more. That dude’s a pathetic little mafia puss.

    I’m no longer excited about watching each UFC via PPV with a bunch of my buds.


  8. EJ says:

    All of this could have easily been averted if only Fitch and his management would have used their brains. Look at the track record for people who go up against Zuffa and see where they are now. I’ll say it once and i’ll say it for a million times, if you want to play in Zuffa’s yard you play by their rules or you don’t play at all.

    The crying over strong arm tactics and whinning about unions have been repeated over and over again and nothing changes. Wonder why that is?, just like the NFL the UFC has learned that the only way to truly be successful is to run their business with an iron fist. You might not like it, but in the end as long as the UFC continues to try to make the sport more mainstream and legal in all states/countries this is the way it has to be for now.

  9. Ivan Trembow says:

    Chris— No, I don’t believe they would, based on Fitch’s statements to Yahoo Sports.

    Jim— I hope you’re right for the fighters’ sake. We may soon find out if the SI report is accurate about Monte Cox “likely” advising his fighters not to sign over the lifetime rights to their own likenesses.

  10. bfd says:

    really what’s the big deal. it’s a video game for crying out loud that people will buy regardless if Fitch is in it or not. You don’t see NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB players crying over it. It is good for the fighters to be involved with such a project. And lifetime for the game?… again, big deal. Athletes, even the really great ones are around for 10 – 15 years tops. Get the exposure while you can. You don’t see Jerry Rice or Barry Sanders in Madden ’09 do you?

  11. ilostmydog says:

    I don’t see how you could call Lambert’s comments ‘kissing ass.’ He sounded honest and fair, not like he was trying to please anyone.

  12. Zack says:

    Papa Lorenzo saved the day. BLAF is grounded.

  13. Ivan Trembow says:

    Zach, to answer the question that you asked in your earlier post about “exclusive” vs. “non-exclusive,” the answer is that the original merchandising agreements that Zuffa tried to pressure fighters into signing was a lifetime contract but it was also non-exclusive.

    On the other hand, the video game contract is both a lifetime contract AND an exclusive contract. Dana White openly admitted in the USA Today interview that the video game deal is both lifetime and exclusive.

  14. 45 Huddle says:

    Papa Lorenzo didn’t save the day.

    He is a smart businessman. If he had a problem with the way Dana White deals with the fighters, he would have sat him down a LONG time ago.

    It’s good cop / bad cop. White does the grunt work, and if fighters get mad, they come to Lorenzo. At the end of the day, they still do the same thing, but Lhe is just nicer about it.

    This has happened with Jon Fitch. It has happened with Randy Couture. And it has happened with Tito Ortiz. There is a trend here.

    The UFC has to realize that these types of things only increase the chances of a fighter’s union.

  15. cyph says:

    I laugh at all who think this is a good cop/bad cop thing. They could have solved the same thing by being nice the first time, why should they drag their reputation through the mud like they did? Dana White cemented his reputation even more by acting like a douche bag. Is that worth it for what they’re trying to do? Is this Lorenzo’s master plan to make Dana White the ultimate douche? No, I think Dana White can handle that all by himself.

    Eventually there will be a union down the road. However, until the UFC stomps out all competition and becomes a national sport, I believe that time is far, far down the road.

  16. Grape Knee High says:

    And about douchebags saying “this is America!”. Yeah, it is. But I think these retards are confusing America for China…

    You really don’t understand what socialism is, do you?

    The Total-MMA column was completely, 100% right.

  17. Grape Knee High says:

    Actually, let me add that I think Total-MMA was maybe not 100% right. Maybe 90% right.

    I do think Dana was acting like a douche, and I do wish more fighters stood up to some of Zuffa’s hardball tactics.

    However, negotiations are at the heart of the matter here, and like I stated yesterday, Jon Fitch unfortunately has no leverage. He is not a marketable fighter.

    There is a lot of gray areas in this topic that most idiots out there refuse or are incapable of comprehending.

  18. dave2 says:

    It’s pathetic to see American Top Team kiss The Dana’s ass like that. AKA caved in but I think Monte Cox may have the testicular fortitude to put up a fight. Also if GSP ever got into a dispute with the UFC, his mega sports agency would eat Zuffa for breakfast. Zuffa is bush league compared to the major sports leagues that GSP’s agency regularly deals with.

    It disappoints me that Zuffa is willing to drop a fighter over not signing a n exclusive lifetime video game contract. Barry Bonds and many other athletes have opted out of just being put into a video game and they are still in their respective leagues. A premier sports organization shouldn’t be cutting athletes just because they won’t sign a video game contract. Tactics like this make Zuffa bush league and makes the UFC into more of a shoot version of WWE rather than a mainstream sports organization.

  19. 45 Huddle says:


    I disagree. Dana White can’t be a push-over. He just can’t. Not even a perception of being a pushover. With so many fighters and camps, they need a “hard a$$” doing the majority of the contract talks. This prevents these fight camps from trying to get exceptions (which over time is bad for the company). And when those straight arm tactics don’t work, Fertitta is there to make good on things.

    I don’t disagree that Dana White is a douche bag in many cases. However, if he wasn’t doing his job as Lorenzo wanted him to, he would have lost his power a while ago and only been a talking head for the company (which typically he is still good at).

  20. cyph says:

    Don’t forget that Lorenzo has just recently been full time with the UFC. All those other cases you cited when Dana flew off the handle before was when Dana White ran the thing full time. Did they do good cop/bad cop when Lorenzo was still running Station Casino? I find that hard to believe.

    There is nothing out of the ordinary with Dana White to think that this is all acting. He is who he is. Besides, what did the UFC gain from this by going this route? They just created a public spat that diminished UFC management in the public’s eyes, and while they put the fighters’ management on notice, it’s not in a good way. Now more than ever, the fighters’ management are distrustful of UFC management. This has been a PR disaster. Good cop/bad cop scenario is so stupid that it does not compute. Lorenzo is a smarter man than that.

  21. Chuck says:

    “You really don’t understand what socialism is, do you?

    The Total-MMA column was completely, 100% right.”

    Of course I know what Socialism, Communism, Marxism, etc. other wealth spreading -isms are. I was getting at more about workers rights and lack of benefits over type of government.

    Could you even call China Socialist anymore? Because I don’t think making Barbie dolls and Sony products for less than an American dollar an hour for foreigners is very “Socialist”. Wouldn’t a more “Socialist” position be to make Chinese products FOR Chinese people, working under Chinese companies?

  22. Grape Knee High says:

    I have to agree with cyph here. I don’t think it is an intentional good cop/bad cop scenario.

    The problem here is that the MMA hand-wringers — thanks for the term, Total MMA — think that whenever Zuffa does something “bad” it is intentional because they already are disposed to thinking of Zuffa as the devil.

    Any of you who have ever employed or managed people at their workplace (and it is obvious that this number is extremely small amongst MMA fans), then you’d know the position that Lorenzo is in.

    The Fertittas provided the capital and the political connections, but Dana is the face of the UFC and is the primary driver of its success. Regardless of his faults, Dana made the UFC into what it is today and Lorenzo takes the good with the bad.

  23. Michael Rome says:

    My guess is the main problem with comprehension is a bunch of people analyzing business decisions as moral decisions, and having no idea how large companies are run.

    Fitch and his management played hardball and got slapped. Real dumb to play hardball when you have no leverage.

    End result: Fitch signs away his rights, all other camps bow in fear, and no risk in the future of guys not signing.

    The “pr nightmare” is limited to hardcore messageboards.

  24. Michael Rome says:

    “Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports told ESPNRadio1100 in a radio interview on Thursday that during a telephone interview with White on Wednesday, Fertitta was just as impassioned and could be heard in the background backing strongly exactly what the very angry White was saying about Fitch.”


  25. dragomort says:

    Zuffa has the power to make or break fighter careers and doing tactics like this will provide Zuffa with more leverage and power for a large gain with little short-term cost. I can see why they’d choose to do it from that perspective. However, just because they can and will try to do such things it hardly makes a case for us having to accept it on any level. Also, knowledge of business matters and disgust at ethical violations involved in those decisions are not mutually exclusive by nature, only by our own rationalizations.

  26. Jeremy says:


    GSP’s deal with CAA has nothing to do with MMA. They only work to secure him endorsement deals and do no work regarding his MMA contracts, his manager still does all of his contract work.

    A question: Why does ATT’s statement mean they are kissing ass. Is it not pos they simply have no issues with this?

  27. cyph says:

    Why does the UFC need to play good cop/bad cop just to get Fitch to sign? The UFC doesn’t need Fitch, but Fitch needs the UFC. To think that there’s this elaborate scheme just to sign Fitch is ridiculous.

    Fitch backed down, and Lorenzo being the voice of reason, gave Fitch the chance to save face because Dana came on too hard because things were said. Lorenzo could have very well not sign Fitch, and AKA would have still fell back in line.

    Should we not credit Lorenzo for being the voice of reason or do we say he and White concocted this big PR scheme with with all the theatrics just to get Fitch to sign? The simpler explanation is always best.


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