(The relevant ranting starts around the 20 minute mark, but scroll back to the 12:40 mark if you want to see White basically have a mental breakdown when discussing Jon Fitch.)
When the UFC announced that their latest batch of mass firings included none other than former #9 ranked welterweight Jon Fitch, the MMA community responded somewhat alarmingly to say the least. When Dana White stated that the decision came as a result of Fitch’s price tag being too high — at a paltry 66K no less — it revealed a bigger problem that could be looming on the horizon for the UFC: Overspending. As BG pointed out, multiple television deals and decreasing pay-per-view buys could at least be partly to blame for the UFC’s recent string of…let’s just call them frugal decisions.
But as it turns out, Fitch & Co.’s departure is just the beginning. Oh yes, a great deluge of firings is headed our way, Potato Nation, one consisting of up to 100 UFC fighters. And if you think the first name that Dana White would place on the potential chopping block would be one of the Shane Del Rosarios, Keith Wisniewskis, or Leonard fucking Garcias* who are currently winless in the promotion, well you just don’t know how The Baldfather thinks. Believe it or not, former WEC champion Urijah Faber was the first to be mentioned as in danger of losing his job with a loss at UFC 157. When asked if his “down the ladder” argument in relation to Fitch applied to guys like Faber, White was characteristically frank (24:50):
Could be Saturday [that he's cut]. You never know, There’s over 100 guys. We’re heavy.
The argument to cut Faber instead of Fitch already makes sense when considering both fighter’s records in the promotion (Fitch: 13-3-1, Faber: 2-2), and that argument only gains more momentum should Faber lose to Ivan Menjivar — who he is currently a 3-to-1 favorite over — tomorrow. But from a business standpoint, releasing as hot a commodity as Faber (or fighters like him) into the arms of “Viacom MMA” seems like promotional suicide, does it not?
Sure, Faber’s on the downside of his career and is far from the most consistent fighter in the UFC, but we’re talking about one of the WEC’s biggest stars here, one who has only dropped decisions to the bantamweight champion and, well, the other bantamweight champion. We’d like to argue about the significance of Faber’s placement on the UFC’s official bantamweight rankings list (he is currently ranked #2), but that debate belongs right up there with “has _____ earned his title shot?” on the list of pointless arguments to be had in today’s MMA landscape.
While we understand the UFC’s need to cut back financially in the face of falling profits, their justification for cutting or keeping a fighter could not be any more nonsensical. I say this with all due respect to the fighters I’m about to mention, but you mean to tell me that it makes sense to cut guys like Faber and Fitch ahead of guys like George Roop, Matt Grice, Nam Phan, and Tiequan Zhang?
Although Bellator has stated that they aren’t interested in Fitch (which we’re calling bullshit on right here and now), they’d have to be insane not to snatch up a name like Faber were he to be released. And while Faber may not be at a championship level in the UFC anymore, the combination of his name and some of Spike TV’s relentless UFC counter-programming could easily snatch up those viewers who don’t feel like shelling out fifty dollars every other weekend for a UFC PPV. For a guy that prides himself on devouring the competition, White/the UFC would be doing just the opposite with a move like this.
Then again, Dana White runs the biggest MMA promotion in the world and I am currently eating a leftover ham sandwich in my underwear, so what the hell do I know?
*I understand that Garcia holds victories over Nam Phan and Allen Berube, but the former was the result of horrendous judging and the latter happened in 2007. So yeah, winless.