Sports by the Numbers MMA
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Only a day after UFC President Dana White threw Jon Fitch and pretty much the rest of American Kickboxing Academy out the window, we learned they were all let back in. Fitch shed a little more light on the situation. The agreement never was really a big deal. It was Dana's approach. Fitch said, "...We felt that Dana was a little hotheaded and was threatening us right off the bat..."

 

So it would seem that White, yellow eyes, horns, pitchfork, and all, swooped in, licked his dry lips with his forked tongue, and demanded Fitch give away his soul, a lifetime "video game contract." The devil White promised riches in return, just a signature and he'd make it happen. Fitch, a hard-working young man from Indiana didn't like the devils approach, asked to negotiate, and was done away with by the fire-spitting White.

 

And then an Angel appeared, thin graying beard, rugged yet handsome in his Armani suit. The harps played, and his gorgeous name danced off his tongue with such grace, such beauty. It sang to Fitch's very soul...Lorenzo...Fertitta. He put a consoling wing around the banished Fitch and made him see the light. The contract, as it was presented by the pitchfork-wielder only a day before, was signed. Jon Fitch was back in the UFC and his soul would be immortalized in the form of THQ's video game, UFC Undisputed 2009.

 

Fitch, in an interview with MMArated.com said, "After talking with Lorenzo, it's not a big deal...it's not like I've got video game companies knocking down my door to do video game deals with me. So a lifetime exclusive is not a big deal...Lorenzo gave us his word that it's not a permanent thing. If we ever did want to leave, there's a possibility that they would allow us to leave and do something else."

 

It would seem that Dana White's brashness and quick trigger finger caused quite a serious issue. And it would also seem that the apparently much more business-savvy Lorenzo Fertitta came in to quell the storm.

 

Then again, a conspiracy theorist may delve into these exchanges and come up with a real hum-dinger. The devil and angel in this little scenario do indeed work side by side. They wanted the same thing. Could it be that they understand the public's perception? Could it be that they wanted to stir the pot. The ordeal definitely served up a little free advertising. After all, White himself brought up how dark these days are financially.

 

Maybe they didn't sit in an office and hash out this diabolical plan, but they have decided to play their roles in a way that is advantageous to Zuffa and the UFC. These guys are smart. In what has proven to be a business that is hostile to newcomers, they have not only survived, but flourished to the point of becoming synonymous with the sport.

 

In playing their roles in this situation, they have warned others that they mean business.  Contracts will be signed or harsh consequences will be doled out. Sure this one ended hospitably, but if Fitch didn't sign, it would have been decidedly unfriendly. And in the process, everybody is talking about the video game. Everybody now knows UFC Undisputed will be coming out shortly. And they know that they will be able to find just about all their favorite fighters on it.

 

Seems like a cherry of a deal for the promotion, especially when at one point it seemed MMA fans were ready to storm Zuffa's offices, baseball bats and torches in hand.

 

Of course those who aren't so inclined to believe in conspiracies will claim that it should be taken at face value. Dana White, the face of the promotion, is as the head of this type of business needs to be, bold and a little reckless. He has a man working beside him who is able to calm the waters. And in business, employers and employees don't see eye to eye all the time, but they usually work it out.

 

Either or, the whole emotion-filled situation was interesting and may not truly be resolved. The 24 hours that stretched between November 20th and November 21st, 2008, may one day be looked upon as significant for the sport. Or it may be nothing more than dip in the roller coaster that is the business of Mixed Martial Arts.

Check out more articles like this and statistics/stories on numerous events at my blog, Sports by the Numbers MMA.

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