Former number one UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch was today handed his walking papers for refusing to sign an agreement that would give the promotion exclusive lifetime video game rights to his name and likeness, MMAmania.com can exclusively confirm.
Christian Wellisch — who also didn’t ink the paperwork — was also released. Others who do not sign the agreement could also be let go in the future.
Fitch and members of his camp were not immediately available for comment on the startling development.
While the full details are a little murky at this time, Fitch was apparently approached about the issue when he turned in his signed bout agreement to fight Akihiro Gono at UFC 94: "St. Pierre vs. Penn 2″ on January 31. And when he and his representatives attempted to negotiate the video game deal it was all or nothing.
He didn’t sign it and was terminated shortly therefafter.
It is simply unethical to ask someone to sign away their likeness in perpetuity. Period. And "others" can only mean other fighters at AKA and fighters from other camps who also don't sign the unbelievably heavy-handed paperwork.
This is an issue I've been harping on with very little attention paid. Now one of the top welterweights on the planet is without a fight or a job. More on the problems with what how the UFC treats ancillary rights here, here, here and here.
UPDATE: from Dave Meltzer, via the members only section of the Wrestling Observer website:
[UPDATE] by Nick Thomas: Dana White no longer wants to work with American Kickboxing Academy fighters:
After a blow-up over the merchandise contract between UFC President Dana White and Duane Zinkin and Bob Cook of Zinkin Entertainment, which represents a slew of UFC fighters, mostly out of the American Kickboxing Association gym in San Jose, the UFC cut Jon Fitch and Christian Wellisch today...
The argument stemmed from Zinkin and Cook advising their clients not to sign the UFC’s merchandising agreement, which gives the company lifetime merchandising rights to the fighters.
While not cut yet, without a resolution, White will be cutting Cain Velasquez, the heavyweight who many considered the future of the division, as well as Josh Koscheck. Koscheck will not be cut right now because White felt that by Koscheck saving the company by taking the fight with Thiago Alves on 10/25 on less than two weeks notice, they owed him at least one more fight. Plus, it would be difficult to replace him since he is scheduled for the main event, against Yoshiyuki Yoshida, on 12/10 in Fort Bragg on the next Spike TV “Fight for the Troops” special.
"We’re looking for guys who want to work with us and not against us, and frankly I’m just so [expletive] sick of this [expletive] it’s not even funny. Affliction is still out there trying to build its company. Let [Fitch] go work with them. Let him see what he thinks of those [expletives]. [Expletive] him. These guys aren’t partners with us. [Expletive] them. All of them, every last [expletive] one of them…. I’m not a douche bag and I do a lot for these guys, a lot more than any of you will ever know.
We’re in a horrible time in the economy now, and every guy with two nickels to rub together is making a run at us. We’ve worked too hard, given too much, to let certain guys come in and [expletive] with that."