Blog Entry

UFC cuts Fitch, Wellisch, more possibly to come

Posted on: November 20, 2008 10:35 am
Edited on: November 20, 2008 10:49 am

The UFC has cut top welterweight Jon Fitch from his contract over a dispute regarding the rights to his name and likeness, several outlets reported on Wednesday. Christian Wellisch has also been cut by the UFC, reportedly over the same issue.

The dispute began over the UFC's attempt to get its fighters to sign over the lifetime rights to their names and likenesses for use in video games as the UFC saw fit -- a deal AKA management, under Bob Cook, advised its fighters not to sign.

Fitch appeared on Hardcore Sports Radio's 'Road Rage' on Wednesday to give his side of the story. In a story posted on on Wednesday, Fitch was quoted as telling the radio show that the UFC cut fellow AKA fighter Wellisch first, "I think as kind of a scare for me and (Josh) Koscheck and Cain (Velasquez)."

Fitch believes both Koscheck and Velasquez will be cut over the rights dispute as well, but since both are on winning streaks -- and since Koscheck recently bailed out the organization by fighting Thiago Alves on less than two weeks' notice, and is slated to headline against Yoshiyuki Yoshida on Dec. 10 -- neither can be cut immediately.

“I guess Cain Velasquez wouldn't sign under his contract and they were saying that after his fight he was done and they weren't going to re-up his contract," Fitch said, as quoted by Sherdog. "I think the same thing goes for Koscheck. I think they would drop him right now too, if he wasn't fighting on the 10th, if he wasn't headlining that show -- so they can't drop him."

Fitch had no problem with signing over his likeness for the game, but the details -- the fact that it was a lifetime deal, that the fighters got no compensation at all for the deal outside of the exposure of having their character in the video game -- were too great to overlook. Fitch recently turned in his signed bout agreement to the UFC for a fight with Akihiro Gono at UFC 94. But since he would not agree to the licensing deal, the UFC terminated that bout agreement, along with his UFC deal, Fitch said.

"They basically kicked the door open, guns blazing, pointed it in our face and said, 'Sign this or you're going to pay,'" Fitch said.

In a story published by Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday, UFC president Dana White said he was done working with the AKA.

"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. "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."

White further explained to USA Today's Sergio Non that the problem isn't with Fitch, or any individual fighter, but with the AKA management itself.

"They knew exactly where this was going, and now they want to run around and cry and say, 'Oh, these guys are bullying us,' or whatever their claim is out there. ... Those idiots know exactly what happened and exactly why we're in this position right now," White said, as quoted by Non.

White added that one AKA fighter -- Mike Swick -- personally contacted him to pledge allegiance to the UFC in light of the dispute with AKA.

"Any of the fighters can come and talk to me one-on-one. ... Mike Swick called me 10 minutes after it happened and said, 'I'm with you.' " has requested to speak with White numerous times within the past two months, but has received no response from UFC officials.

Fitch was on an eight-fight win streak in the UFC leading up to his five-round decision loss to Georges St. Pierre in a welterweight title fight at UFC 87 on Aug. 9. The streak was a UFC record.

Now, one of the UFC's recent success stories finds himself looking for work.

"I never wanted anything more than to fight in the UFC and be a UFC champ," Fitch said on Hardcore Sports Radio. "I put a lot of blood and guts and sweat and tears into this. This is my reward, I guess."

Since: Apr 3, 2007
Posted on: November 25, 2008 2:34 pm

UFC cuts Fitch, Wellisch, more possibly to come

Is this the way it works for other sports video games? I can't imagine players unions would allow represented players to get stiffed. In the absence of a union the individual must do what they think is best and face the consequences. I don't fault Fitch one bit. It's pretty petty of White to cut him over a video game...hell I thought he ran a fight organization and Fitch is damn good fighter.

Since: Sep 28, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2008 10:19 am

UFC cuts Fitch, Wellisch, more possibly to come

Well......I think its pretty obvious why Dana is doing this.  He does not want anyone to go to other organizations.  It might  cause backlash, but as long as he can keep people locked in before competition comes in(affliction etc) then he locks those other organizations out.  Not saying I like it, but I understand what he is doing.  More fighters will deflect.  Its like anything else.  As competition increases share decreases.  Dana has only one way to go........and thats down because of this.  Hes nervous of Affliction and is doing everything he can to lock up his fighters. 

Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: November 21, 2008 2:43 pm

UFC cuts Fitch, Wellisch, more possibly to come

UFC continues to f@&* itself because of White's arrogance and bullheadedness.Fitch is a terrific up and comer and is coming into his prime. I hope other fighters see how White is treating his employees(also possibly dumping Kos after a step-in fight) and realize that they are one wrong move from being on the streets themselves-Dana White and the UFC aren't worth their time and lost money.

Since: Sep 7, 2008
Posted on: November 21, 2008 12:15 am

UFC cuts Fitch, Wellisch, more possibly to come

I'm sorry, but this is exactly why the UFC can't sign Fedor. The "it's my way or the highway" mentality is gonna bury the UFC in the long run. They make millions but pay the fighters poorly. They won't even share Fedor with his native Russia. After agreeing to a "fight" contract with their fighters, they try to force new and un-agreed upon "entertainment and media" stipulations into the contract. F@%& him?! That's what you got to say about a guy like Fitch who's help build a fanbase for your organization, Dana? Koscheck put his record on the line to bail the UFC out and they're just gonna drop him? This is his reward? Well I say this is a good thing. Affliction has potential. Between the UFC's arrogance and sexism against female fighters, Affliction could get Fitch, Koscheck, Velasquez, Cris Cyborg, Gina Carano and maybe some other fighters. Add that onto the fighters they already have and this could provide enough of a base to attract more fighters. Dana is a jackass, flat out!

Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: November 20, 2008 11:46 pm

UFC cuts Fitch, Wellisch, more possibly to come

   The reason some guys don't want to sign a lifetime waiver is because that would be stupid. What if Fitch becomes champ and is bringing in big $$$? Well, I'll tell you what. He will receive $0 for his name in the video. Fighters don't tend to have long careers (of course there are exceptions). They, like most athletes, need to make everything they can now, while their career lasts. They don't have the 40 year career with a pension plan and RRSP's. They have 3-10 years (maybe a lot less if hurt) to make a good portion of their earnings in their profession that they trained their whole lives to build. A doctor goes to school for 7 years and he/ she will practice for 20 or 30 or more years. Still, they will not sign off on any reimbursements. Unions will sign off on raise freezes for a few years, but never a lifetime. I can't think of anyone who would consider signing off on anything forever. Can you? Would you?

   I like the UFC, but I have no sympathy for this type of business. It's not like they're broke. They rake in 40-50 million on each PPV for the last 6 or 7. Shirts and other memorabilia sales are huge, advertising and TV with SPIKE and others is pretty big, and the fighters are not paid very well (look at the posted payouts of the last few years). The UFC can afford to pay these guys better. But, to be fair, let them pay what they are, but give them their royalties on the merchandise they sell. Even a couple points. We all know that the $40 shirt they sell is made in Korea (or somewhere else similar) and shipped for a total cost of about $4. Give the guys 2-5 % on how many items with their name on it sells. Give everyone in the video game 1% of the net (after the UFC takes their reasonable piece) with a bit higher to champs and top 5 contenders and a bit less for marginal guys. Seems fair to me.

Since: Jun 13, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2008 9:53 pm

UFC cuts Fitch, Wellisch, more possibly to come

I agree I hope affliction has a shot so Dana White can't be a douchebag. I love the UFC the best fighters are there, but if he pisses enough fighters off then affliction has a shot of competing.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: November 20, 2008 6:10 pm

Hmm...a real head-scratcher.

I'm still trying to figure out why my sympathies lie with here. One the one hand, if Jon Fitch is worried about image rights and freakin' out about his face appearing gratis in a video game or two, maybe his focus isn't on getting back on another 8-fight win streak - and it's got him fired. One the other hand, it seems as though the UFC's bullishness and arrogance has cost them a pretty distinguished fighter from their roster in a highly competitive weight class. It's going to be interesting to see if this does lead to a mass culling of AKA fighters, or whether this really is just some kind of retribution against Fitch himself. I mean, what the heck have Velasquez and Koscheck ever done to the organization?

Getting rid of Fitch to make a point is one thing. Losing a fan favorite (Kos) and a future heavyweight champion (Cain) will just be madness in the extreme. I hope all three defect to Affliction, get paid handsomely, and help build that promotion into a true apples-to-apples rival to Dana's boys - because if the UFC continue to act like the bully on the block, Dana's going to need more friends than Mike Swick to help him keep his head above water.

Hell...if he dumps my boy Cain, I'm going to come and find his a$$ myself.

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