White to Fitch: Release from UFC was business, not personal
In Feb the UFC released 16 fighters including Jon Fitch. After a nearly eight year run with the company, despite maintaining a #9 ranking in the UFC top 10 list, Fitch had gone 1-2-1 his previous four fights, and was gone.
Fitch signed with the World Series of Fighting, and during a media call earlier today, described the UFC as a “hostile” work environment.
UFC president Dana White took exception to the characterization.
“In the time Jon Fitch was with us, we paid him $302,000 in discretionary bonuses – $302,000,” White told MMAjunkie.com. “That’s money that me and Lorenzo decided to give him above and beyond the deal that he signed. He also made $130,000 on performance bonuses for his two ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses. That’s a hostile work environment? Everything that Jon Fitch said is complete and total bulls—.”
“Jon Fitch said he was working under a hostile work environment and that he never had an opportunity and should have double the wins he had with us. He was complaining about what he had to go through here, about people saying stuff under their breath to him and all this bulls—. Jon Fitch is so full of s—. He’s f—ing delusional. First of all, he had every opportunity that anyone else had. After Georges St-Pierre beat the living s— out of him, did we treat him differently or anything?
“Just to lay it out with facts, Jon Fitch lost to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87. He had an opportunity to fight for the title, and he got destroyed in that fight. He fought to a draw with B.J. Penn in a top contender fight. Then he gets a chance to be a No. 1 contender again and gets knocked f—ing dead in the first round by Johny Hendricks. What f—ing opportunities has he not been given?
“He was prominently featured on tons of UFC pay-per-view events. ‘GSP’-B.J. Penn was the main event at UFC 94, and Jon Fitch was on that fight card against Akihiro Gono. He was on UFC 100 vs. Paulo Thiago. He was on UFC 111 against Ben Saunders, and ‘GSP’ and Dan Hardy were the main event of that one. UFC 117 against Paulo Thiago? That was Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen in the main event. He’s fought on all the most prominent cards. When he had a baby, we sent him an awesome baby basket. Do you do that to somebody you don’t give a s— about? He’s 35 years old, and since 2011, he’s gone 1-2-1.”
“In business, you’re going to butt heads every now and then. But I’ve said publicly many times that I have no grudge with Jon Fitch. That whole thing is overplayed.
“He was given multiple opportunities and couldn’t win the big fight. He’s trying to make it personal. It’s the furthest f—ing thing from personal.”
“When we released Jon Fitch, I said right then that one of the other organizations would pick him up and he’d be a star there and probably hold their title. How is that not good for Jon Fitch?”
To understand why Fitch was cut after a single loss, while Dan Hardy for example was retained after four losses, you have to understand the nature of mixed martial arts at the highest level. MMA is not an amateur sport, where winning medals is the sole goal, as is the case in for example the Olympics. MMA is the HOLY F@$%ING $#!^ business.
“… there’s the holy s— factor,” ZUFFA CEO Lorenzo Fertitta famously told The Atlantic Magazine. “Actually, they said ‘the holy f—ing s— factor.’ It happens at every fight. At least one or two times in every UFC show, whether you say it out loud or you say it to yourself, you go, ‘holy s— did that just happen?’ I mean, you might see somebody do a flip, get kicked in the head, get knocked out with a punch. At some point, you’re going ‘whoah, did that just happen? Did I really just see that?’ That’s the nucleus of what our product is.”
When an MMA fan is weighing whether buy tickets for $250 or order a PPV for $50, there is going to be a calculation, whether conscious or not, about how compelling the card is going be. And when the average fan thinks of Jon Fitch, generally speaking, their first thought is not HOLY F—ING S—.
Other sports are not like that. When Rulon Gardner beat Alexander Karelin it was for a point received when Karelin loosed his grip so imperceptibly that video review was required. But Garnder won the gold medal and became a sought after speaker, for big fees, and landed on a Wheaties box. In most sports, winning is everything. But for better and for worse, MMA is different.
White also discussed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who recently signed with Bellator MMA, and, like Fitch, directed pointed remarks at his former employer.
“‘Rampage’ comes out and says he’s so happy – he’s the happiest he’s ever been,” said White. “Why wouldn’t he be happy? ‘Rampage’ himself, and I’m quoting ‘Rampage,’ came out and said, ‘I don’t have what it takes to compete with the best in the world anymore.’ That’s a quote from ‘Rampage.’ Now you’re fighting in (TNA) where the outcomes are predetermined. You can start winning again.
“I’m sure they’re paying him a s—load of money. Why would he not be happy? I’m happy for him, too. Good for him.”
“He lost his love of fighting a long time ago. He wanted to be a movie star. The movie star thing didn’t work out, so fighting is where he makes his money. Unfortunately, he’s unhappy about that. That’s not my fault.”