Just a Friendly Reminder That Zuffa Don’t Play

The big news circulating today centers around Zuffa dishing out pink slips to former Strikeforce champ Marloes Coenen and heavyweights Valentijn Overeem and Jon Olav Einemo – Golden Glory fighters all and teammates to the freshly-cut Alistair Overeem.  Never mind that Coenen was a titleholder five days ago, and that Alistair was a champ and coming off a win; when the axe swings, it swings, and whether the alleged dispute lies with unfavorable contracts, a conflict with management teams or threats of games of hardball, the fact of the matter is that no one is safe.  The UFC is about a brand, not about any particular fighter.  It’s always been so and likely always will.  So, lest we all forget, here are a few friendly reminders that when all is said and done, Zuffa don’t play.

Jens Pulver – “Lil’ Evil” was the UFC’s inaugural lightweight champ, and with a knockout punch and charisma for miles, he fit the role of 155-pound king perfectly.  But Pulver didn’t like the size of his paychecks when compared to rising star BJ Penn’s, so he demanded more money.  Zuffa told him to hit the road in response.  He did, and when a subsequent four-man lightweight tournament bore no fruit, the organization simply put the weight class on ice in a deepfreeze that lasted for years.

BJ Penn – With the UFC’s 155-pound division in stasis, the Hawaiian moved up to welterweight to choke out Matt Hughes and take his belt.  But he soon felt he wasn’t getting enough love from the organization (Penn’s idea of “love” was fight offers against intriguing opponents), so he signed with K-1 in Japan, who had promised him big bouts and big exposure.  The result was less than surprising: Zuffa stripped him of his championship title, and the ensuing legal battle (Penn filed suit to prevent them from awarding the belt to someone else) was pretty public and pretty ugly.

Murilo Bustamante – Hey, remember this guy?  He was a badass Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and MMA pioneer, and he sported enough power in his hands to KO Dave Menne and take his UFC middleweight belt.  Bustamante was also enough of a stud to tap Matt Lindland out twice in one fight when Lindland challenged him for the title.  Unfortunately, all that mojo meant nothing when it came time to renegotiate his contract and Bustamante wanted to hold out for more money.  Like Pulver, he too was told to not let the Octagon door hit him in the ass when he walked out.

Randy Couture – Couture established early on that he had no problems bailing, as he ditched Semaphore Entertainment Group’s UFC for greener pastures (i.e.,Japan) back in 1998.  He returned for Zuffa, though, and won titles in two divisions before retiring and returning and winning some more.  But discord once more reared its ugly head, and in a bitter, public row, issues like money discrepancies, management disputes and the organization’s failure to sign Fedor Emelianenko were tossed about like allegations in a divorce.  Zuffa fired back with both barrels, producing cashed checks and preliminary injunctions barring Couture from even appearing at other events.  So, yeah, it wasn’t a like watching a romantic comedy, either.

Jon Fitch – In perhaps the ultimate flex of muscle, when Fitch refused to sign a lifetime contract releasing his likeness to the UFC for a video game, the organization unhesitatingly canned him – and threatened to can every one of his American Kickboxing Academy teammates to boot.  It was irrelevant that Fitch had just lost a decision to champ George St.Pierre, and that he’d gotten his shot due to an impressive eight-fight win streak.  All that mattered was that he wouldn’t play ball.  Thankfully, Fitch signed on the dotted line soon after, which enabled teammate Cain Velasquez to later dethrone Brock Lesnar for the heavyweight strap.

  • Reblfh

    fuck zuffa and fuck dana white they could rott in a sack for all i care

    • I like sexy time

      Wow slow down tough guy!

  • Ed Lib

    I only think they should be more opened to negotiate the salary of the fighters. Because some deserve more than what they earn.  

    Still, I’m on Zuffa’s behalf on Alistair’s case…

  • Awwaters

    Im on the side of the fighters Zuffa, the ferttittas, and white make plenty of money while guys put their career and life on the line every time they step into the cage for sometimes as little as a couple grand. Eventually White will run his company into the ground because fighters will get tired of their thuggish mentality. The monopoly will end and then everyone can kick Dana White while hes down!

    • Steve_vacev

       I kinda agree with you. At the moment, Zuffa do whatever they wanna do, cause there are no organizations to challenge them. And yes, Dana White is a dick.

  • Awwaters

    Im on the side of the fighters Zuffa, the ferttittas, and white make plenty of money while guys put their career and life on the line every time they step into the cage for sometimes as little as a couple grand. Eventually White will run his company into the ground because fighters will get tired of their thuggish mentality. The monopoly will end and then everyone can kick Dana White while hes down!

  • aalvarez

    I wonder how many fight fans really understand what is happening. Its obvious us diehards know but I wonder about the general public. Zuffa just grimey, thats y NY won’t take them. 

  • Matt Silliman

    I know it’s easy to trash ZUFFA and Dana for what they do, but I think we all forget they are running a company.  These fighters are employee’s for ZUFFA and as employees they can be fired for any reason that company sees fit.  

    I’m not sure what kind of jobs you guys have all had, but I’ve never had a job where I go to the boss and say I want more money or I”m leaving….and then he gives me a raise. I also understand them not wanting their fighters fighting outside ZUFFA promoted shows.  What if Allistar were to lose in that Golden Glory event? That’s no different than a lot of basketball players who didn’t play in the Olympics because their team/owner didn’t want them to get hurt in the Olympics and miss regular season games.  It sucks, but its business.  

    It’s not like most of the UFC fighters aren’t making plenty of money…Even the low level fighters make around 8-10K a fight with the option for a win bonus, fight of the night, KO of the night, sub of the night, sponsor money.  If they fight 3-4 times a year and they win only once. they will make over 35K a year not including sponsor money or fight night bonuses.  That’s not bad money for someone who does what they love for a living. 

    I will agree that Dana seems brash, and they do seem to use fear as a tactic to keep control.  But it’s business and it can’t be easy running a business of that size. 

  • Matt Silliman

    I know it’s easy to trash ZUFFA and Dana for what they do, but I think we all forget they are running a company.  These fighters are employee’s for ZUFFA and as employees they can be fired for any reason that company sees fit.  

    I’m not sure what kind of jobs you guys have all had, but I’ve never had a job where I go to the boss and say I want more money or I”m leaving….and then he gives me a raise. I also understand them not wanting their fighters fighting outside ZUFFA promoted shows.  What if Allistar were to lose in that Golden Glory event? That’s no different than a lot of basketball players who didn’t play in the Olympics because their team/owner didn’t want them to get hurt in the Olympics and miss regular season games.  It sucks, but its business.  

    It’s not like most of the UFC fighters aren’t making plenty of money…Even the low level fighters make around 8-10K a fight with the option for a win bonus, fight of the night, KO of the night, sub of the night, sponsor money.  If they fight 3-4 times a year and they win only once. they will make over 35K a year not including sponsor money or fight night bonuses.  That’s not bad money for someone who does what they love for a living. 

    I will agree that Dana seems brash, and they do seem to use fear as a tactic to keep control.  But it’s business and it can’t be easy running a business of that size. 

    • The_heat_

      but if your boss fired you for asking for a raise, would it make sense to fire your friends/co workers just because they train/work with you?

    • Big pipe

      I don’t know what job you have but these fighters negotiate* their contracts every so often so they can argue their point as to how much money etc they want. Low level fighters can make about 3k. Which doesn’t cover the cost of your personal trainers, healthy food, equipment, or the cost of your gym membership. Without those things you can’t expect ho have many fight of the nights if your opponent like yourself still has to run off to work after training. Also most fighters fight twice a yr. That’s one if the problems overeem had with zuffa.
      The UFC does put on a great show because it has the best fighters. They need to pay the lower guys a bit more.

      • Matt Silliman

        I agree they should pay fighters more. They should have a minimum salary for UFC fighters.

        I understand that my job doesn’t entail me negotiating a contract every so often. But the end of the contract is not much different then me being up for a review to see if i deserve a raise.

        Its not like the UFC is being sneaky about how they run their company. Everyone knows and yet fighters still try and get signed by them. If it’s so difficult to make it financially as a fighter then you obviously aren’t good enough. It’s no different than any other sport. Minor league athletes don’t make much money either. Hell, there are MLS player that hold down another job during the off season. It’s not easy to make it as a professional athlete.

        If not for Dana and the fertittas what would all these fighters be doing instead of pursuing their dream? They risked a ton of time and money to make this UFC thing work so as difficult as Dana seems, I trust that he has an end game.

        • Ed Lib

          Man, without Dana or the Fertittas there would be another event instead of them.
          The fighters deserve to review their pay checks and ask for more money when they deserve…that’s actually why it’s called CONTRACT – needs two mutual consents to be signed .

          The fighters should gather themselves to pressure those kind of politics, because, in fact, they are the ones who run the show! 

          Still, Dana is a good guy to be headlining   that… got  some sort of love me or hate me deal, and that sells. 

          But I got really pissed after putting Dominick Cruz on one stupid night to defend his belt and Faber on UFC 139… as fan, who doesn’t actually give a damm for the fighters salary, that sucks!

      • sandman

        Hold up! It was like squeezing water out of a rock to get Overeem to fight in Strikeforce. He found every way to stall or excuse himself from a fight, so don’t start with him not going to the UFC because he wouldn’t get the fights….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Berezansky/1666465349 Jacob Berezansky

    I’d just like to point out that I am a huge, huge fan of Zuffa; I do acknowledge they don’t always have the kindest business ethics, but I just really like the objective stance from which the article was written. Very factual and very, very low personal bias. I dig it.
     

    • jim genia

      Thank you, sir.

  • Imamason

    fighters just dont how how to work tgether man thts all they have to do they can start they own bussiness they dont need sumone who never fought in there lifes run it

  • sandman

    When you work for somebody else, or a business, you play by the owner’s rules. We all have jobs that require us to do bullshit stuff that we don’t agree with, but we gotta remember how we’re putting bread on the table….

  • http://profiles.google.com/highdollarstl Bill Schumer

    Get real, it is a business. The fighters work for them, and wouldn’t if they didn’t like the terms. You guys think they should pay a guy on the undercard more money just because he wants to fight for a living and it’s tough? Just being in the UFC means you have the potential to make a ton of money…but you have to earn it. If they do their jobs well they receive much more from the UFC than a paycheck. They get exposure, which leads to sponsorships, commercials, movies – so many different avenues of money for these guys that they would have never had.  Zuffa has gotten the UFC to where it’s at by doing business the way they do it…and they do it the best, period. They pay what they can pay their pool of fighters and be successful, and disperse it how they see fit.  If they give a minimum salary it’s going to come from somewhere, and I personally don’t want the PPV’s going up again.

     Remember:  The dog wags the tail, the tail doesn’t wag the dog.

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