One of the biggest issues with the way the UFC is doing business now is how they let go of so many promising fighters who end up floating their competitor’s boats. Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Joe Riggs, Jeff Monson, Ken Shamrock, Shonie Carter, the list goes on and on and on and on … and on! Half the time, when you see some recognizable names on a non-UFC card, that name came from the UFC.
Sure, you can definitely argue that the UFC is the premiere league and as such it should only have premiere fighters. But every time the UFC lets go of an established fighter who is underperforming, they’re giving ammunition to their competition.
So what to do with all these guys? You do what ProElite is doing and shuffling them around the different organizations it owns. Look at Ninja Rua … after losing to Robbie Lawler at the last EliteXC show, there wasn’t much left for him to do in that organization. But rather than drop him, ProElite has moved him over to Cage Rage where he can rebuild some momentum and be available to EliteXC when a smart matchup presents itself.
The UFC needs the same thing. And no, they don’t have the same thing in the WEC. They could, but Zuffa brass is too proud to call the WEC their feeder system and are trying to establish it as something else. What, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s true that they’re just blocking another promotion from landing on Versus, and Versus wouldn’t bite if the WEC really became a minor league for the UFC.
The UFC has proven over and over again that they’re willing to spend tens of millions on marketing but aren’t interested in investing in fighters who may just need a bit more time and experience to become stars. Or fighters who may never be able to hold the belt but are still hard working, skilled, and exciting fighters.
There’s already 1001 examples of guys being let go by the UFC who are now the crown jewel in their respective promotions. It’s only going to get worse down the road if the UFC doesn’t figure out some way to keep these guys under contract for themselves.