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We just mentioned that Jon Fitch’s management was a bit crazy to risk the nuclear option over something as small-fry as video game rights when Fitch’s contract includes a bunch of other shit that’s way worse. But here’s a revelation: AKA *did* blink. It was Jon Fitch’s decision not to budge on the lifetime clause:

But Fitch’s most intriguing revelation came when he said that his management actually advised him to sign away his likeness and that it was his decision and his decision alone not to ink the deal.

“He tries to blame this and put this off on management but my management was telling me to sign this video game deal. But out of principle, I didn’t. It’s on me, not on my management.”

Fitch has been pretty good at keeping his mouth shut over a lot of the bullshit he’s had to endure over the years with the UFC, but it seems like he’s right pissed off over the current situation:

While White has stated publicly that he has nothing against personal against Fitch and that the decision to release him was a business move against AKA and Zinkin, Fitch feels otherwise.

“It’s 100 percent personal,” the former welterweight title challenger said. “They are making an example of me because I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m the perfect example of what a UFC fighter should be; someone who goes out there ad lays it on the line (and) fights their ass off. I never say anything negative about the company. I always put a positive light on everything and anything that has happened to me. Even the s— (about) getting left at the airport from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter; not being shown on the main cards; (and) not getting some of the best fights-“

Up to this point there’s always been an easy deflector for the beefs Dana has had with fighters. Randy was greedy. Tito was washed up (and an asshole). Frank Shamrock was a diva. Tim Sylvia was boring. Josh Barnett was a steroid user. Roger Huerta was all hype. Fabricio Werdum was a fatty. And on and on and on. But Jon Fitch is A-1 legit and tamer than tame … if you told me yesterday that he’d be on the wrong end of Dana White’s crosshairs I’d have told you to lay off the angel dust.

I’m not gonna comment on the other shit that AKA’s management team have put Dana White through. It’s their fucking job to get the most out of the UFC as possible. But it’s pretty clear here that everyone was willing to be very reasonable except Dana White and the UFC. And in firing Jon Fitch, a guy who is universally respected across the sport, I think Dana has finally revealed that anyone can end up on the wrong side of a very nasty dispute with the UFC.

Here’s Akihiro Gono talking about the UFC sending him bonus money for his awesome dance number and his attempt to speak English UFC 89. Note that this is translated by Japanese blogger Gryphon, who also attempts to write English. I give him a spiritual bonus for trying hard … his translation made my day:

UFC send me “FIGHTER BONUS”………………..ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

this bonus has letter too.

“Dana White and Rorenzo give you bonus for your promotion and effort”

it probably means entrance performance,but If it include my English talking,i am glad

but,to say the trush, I wanted to tell you “WINNER interview”,it is prepared paerfectly. I am sorry.

My Winnertalk could heat up house………

but,This bonus is valuable as much as WINNER bonus for me.

because not only winner or loser,

An asian fighte GONO AKIHIRO is known as totalpackage character.i feel

my motivation is up and up,

and UFC offer me!

absolutely OK!!

Rorenzo. Classic.

Michael Rome has a unique take on the current UFC / AKA showdown:

I think the topic of whether the UFC’s deal is morally deficient has been discussed to death.   Personally, I feel it is unnecessarily heavy handed.   However, the real issue for Fitch and other AKA fighters is their representation.   It’s mind-boggling to me that anyone would advise a fighter not to sign away video game rights when it could cost them their entire MMA career.

To be honest, losing one fight in the UFC will cost Fitch more than he will ever make in a video game.   He made over $250,000 for his fight against GSP when you include sponsors, and $169,000 from the UFC alone.   How much is he going to make off video game rights?   Not to mention the contract is highly questionable and likely unenforceable anyway.

Rome has a point: while I think we all agree that the whole situation is insane, the key thing is the UFC putting their foot down and AKA calling their bluff. Only the UFC wasn’t bluffing, and now AKA is out on it’s ass. Sherdog is reporting that both parties are talking again so there’s a chance this whole thing will blow over in the next week or two.

Sure, it’s scary that the UFC is using it’s position to play the hardest game of hardball yet. But it’s also insane that these fighters’ agent had the UFC point blank tell them it was sign or go, and the agents said they’d rather go. If you’re gonna stand up to the UFC over some unfair shit, why not stand up for something meatier? Accepting all the release clauses and sponsor restrictions is already akin to getting fucked in the ass. And now they’re crying because Dana came on their back and they think that’s disrespectful?

To get away from all this AKA bullshit for a bit, let’s talk about something else. Perhaps part of the reason Dana White is having a mega-period is that his PPV numbers aren’t looking as awesome as he was expecting them to. Boxing is way the fuck down on their numbers, and Dave Meltzer has released the numbers for UFC 90 with Anderson Silva vs Patrick Cote: 300,000. Steve Barry has more:

Yeah, that’s pretty bad, and actually lower than past events featuring Silva. Apparently, the “pound-for-pound” tag didn’t pay off quite like they hoped it would. But in this instance, maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Maybe it’s better that not that many people saw Anderson Silva’s performance against Patrick Cote. Newcomers might never want to see him fight again if so.

The question now is, why? Are people just not that interested in Anderson Silva? Was it the match-up? Or perhaps more alarming, contrary to what Zuffa has said, is the abysmal economy adversely affecting pay-per-view buys?

If it’s the latter that may not be a good sign. Dana White told anyone who would listen including ESPN that UFC 91 was going to do 1.2 million pay-per-view buys. What if that number only comes back at 500,000? Between you and me, I’d probably get a little chuckle out of it for having egg on his face, but honestly, that would probably be a pretty bad sign for everyone.

If you ask me, UFC 90 did shit because the main event was a foregone conclusion. The big fights tend to be the ones where you don’t know who’s going to win. The only people who thought Patrick Cote was going to win that night were in Patrick’s corner. Add onto that an undercard that didn’t exactly sizzle and bam: 300k only.

I still don’t believe the whole “Anderson Silva doesn’t draw” bull … I just think he hasn’t been put up against names that would draw big views. Aside from guys like Chuck Liddell (and yeah, even in his case), who you’re facing matters. That’s why Affliction has all those names but keeps failing: they won’t match the fighters up that we wanna see scrap. If Dana White wants Anderson to draw big bucks, he’s gotta set up some big fights. If the rumors of Chuck / Anderson are true (and Anderson’s agent says they’re sitting down next week to set up his next fight), that will be a good start.

Midsy has a list of the 14 guys he thinks have leverage when dealing with UFC management:

  • Michael Bisping
  • Randy Couture
  • Rashad Evans
  • Forrest Griffin
  • Matt Hughes
  • Rampage Jackson
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Chuck Liddell
  • Frank Mir
  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
  • B.J. Penn
  • Anderson Silva
  • Wanderlei Silva
  • Georges St. Pierre

In a pinch I’d say the UFC would still bitchslap the large majority of the rest of these guys if they happen to disagree over something of importance. Hell, you’ve already seen it with Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture, and BJ Penn.

Also, don’t forget some of the other guys who used to have ‘leverage': Tito Ortiz, Andrei Arlovski, Brandon Vera, and Roger Huerta. And sure, while Brandon Vera lost his leverage via shitty performances in the cage, the UFC did a good job of showing Andrei and Tito who’s the boss. And Roger Huerta? That uppity boy got put in his place too, didn’t he?

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