The Jon Fitch debacle.

I thought I’d weigh in on this whole UFC-Videogame-Affliction-Jon Fitch controversery.  For those of you haven’t been following it goes like this: UFC dropped Jon Fitch and other AKA fighters because of their unwillingness to sign away their lifetime rights to use their likeness in the videogame UFC:Undisputed.  I’m not sure if these lifetime rights only encompass this videogame, all videogames, or all merchandising.  Then, only a day later Fitch did end up signing the deal, and was re-instated in the UFC.

I have a number of problems with this, and almost everything has to do with the ridiculous crap UFC president Dana White said and his actions. White implied that Fitch “owed” the UFC because he has been well-compensated for his fights, and that he doesn’t understand what White wants to do with the UFC as a sport. White also said that no one has worked harder than he has for UFC, and that Fitch and other AKA fighters will learn that its tough to make money in a bad economy. He also said that none of the other fighters are complaining.

For his part Fitch has said, that his main problem with the deal was the lifetime rights aspect. He was willing to negotiate a shorter term deal. His big bugaboo was that in the event of his death, the UFC could continue to use his likeness and not pay his family a dime.

Nearly everything White said is irrelevant. How many hours he worked for the UFC has nothing to do with a fighter signing a bad contract. That likes a car salesmen asking you to give a break because he needs to support his family.  Fitch doesn’t owe the UFC anything other than his best fighting skills.  White seems to want to control everything the UFC, and make it into a brand, not a sport. His actions make it clear he wants control over his fighters like Vince McMahon controls his in the WWE. NFL, NBA, and other professional athletes are not treated like this. The Player Associations in those league would never allow it.

My biggest problem with White actions are the control issues. If Fitch doesn’t want to sign a merch contract that’s his prerogative.  It shouldn’t effect his standing in the league one iota. Nobody ever said to a NBA player if you don’t sign this merchandising deal we’re going to bench you. It’s ludicrous. Fitch’s standing in the UFC should be based solely on his fighting skills and how entertaining his fights are.

White claims he wants to make the UFC a mainstream sport. These kind of actions are going to prevent it from becoming one. He really needs to be careful in the way UFC is being presented, it can’t start to look like wrestling. We already saw the Elite XC fold after the Kimbo Slice incident. Accusations of  the Elite XC fixing or influencing matches to keep their superstars winning took away any credibility that league had left. White’s actions have severely tarnished the image of the UFC as a sport. Perhaps its time for him to step down as president and stick to what he knows -promotion.


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