More than a few heads turned earlier this week when the UFC decided to send Jon Fitch (24-5-1) off to free agency rather than retain the services of one of the sport’s Top 10 welterweights. Though Fitch was coming off a loss, the 34-year old (who celebrates a birthday this weekend) held an impressive record in the Octagon with wins over a number of notable foes. However, his style left a lot to be desired, opening the door for UFC President Dana White to hand Fitch a pink slip.
White fielded questions about Fitch’s release along with fifteen other fighters during the pre-event press conference yesterday attached to this weekend’s lineup for UFC 157 where he was unapologetic about the move despite the negative reaction from fans.
“This isn’t a case where Jon Fitch was ranked No. 9, No. 7, No. 6, No. 4, No. 2 and then we cut him. He was ranked No. 1 – fought for the title, then he was ranked No. 2, 3, 6, 7 and now he’s 9. That’s called the downside of your career,” said White. “He’s lost two fights, one draw and won one fight. ‘Oh, it’s ’cause he beat Erick Silva – he beat (Dana’s) guy in Brazil’ and all this other sh*t. Who the f*ck has Erick Silva beat? That was Erick Silva’s first real fight. It was a great fight – he won Fight of the Night. He won a bonus for it.”
MMAJunkie was on the scene and able to capture the conversation.
The outspoken executive went out to compare Fitch’s situation to an NFL team cutting an underperforming veteran, offering advice to other fighters on the roster finding cause for concern based on the UFC’s new approach to employment.
“What you should do is go out and try to be the best in the world, and you should try to whoop everybody’s asses impressively. It depends on how much money you want to make. Do you want to go around and lay on guys? How many people are beating down the door to see any of those guys fight again,” asked White rhetorically, making it clear the organization would be rewarding a certain style of competitor.
And, in White’s opinion, Fitch simply isn’t the kind of fighter worth $66,000 to show – his salary at UFC 156 where he fell to Demian Maia on the scorecards.
“The response that Jon Fitch has had is awesome. I’m glad that many people are behind him and support him. That’s not a bad thing. Good for him. But I can tell you this: Jon Fitch isn’t cheap,” ranted White, looking at Bellator as a potential landing place for Fitch’s services. “Viacom MMA has some money, so he can go out on the free market right now and find out what he’s worth.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC