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It's an Ugly Business

The near monopoly of UFC/Zuffa in the worldwide MMA biz is taking its toll. Some great fighters are getting the squeeze.

Fighters like Andrei Arlovski:

The big Belarusian is currently on the UFC sidelines because he has only one match left on his contract. As we know (see Brandon Vera), the UFC doesn't make key bouts with a fighter who could be on his way out of the organization. After talking with Joe Silva last weekend, that's actually a possibility.

While the UFC matchmaker stopped short of saying the organization doesn't need the former heavyweight champ, comments such as "where else is he going to go" and the contract "has to make sense for us" send a clear message as to who has the upper hand in the ongoing negotiations. The UFC won't book Arlovski until the contract issue is resolved.

The light heavyweight sensation Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou who tore through the best competition in PRIDE earlier this year and is now cooling his heels:


BZ: With your two most recent knockouts putting you near the top of the Light Heavyweights, who is next in your crosshairs? Who do you have the most desire to fight?
RTS: At this point, I don't really know. I'm not tied down to anyone or any organization. I wanted Shogun, but as of now, no one is lined up. I don't have a job, man! (Laughs) It's hard to call anyone out when you don't have a job.

BZ: In your words, what happened with the EliteXC deal?
RTS: There were too many changes on the contract. And I guess the details were never hammered out. Man, I'm not a lawyer and they hand me some 20 page contract for me and Parsons to look over, but that's not my job. My job is to fight. We had a lawyer check it out; I don't know exactly what happened but we chose not to sign. I just want to train and get ready instead of dealing with contracts.

Zach Arnold breaks it down:

On paper, UFC's calculation makes complete and total sense. It's the same song-and-dance that we are currently seeing in the American pro-wrestling scene with WWE. The main rivals for UFC are undergoing major problems (HEROs is completely disorganized, IFL is bleeding massive amounts of money, and Pro-Elite admitted that they don't even have their accounting practices in order according to their latest 10Q report) and fighters have little-or-no negotiating leverage. That was certainly cemented when PRIDE died earlier this year.

Zach goes on to elaborate on the Ed Fishman lawsuit against PRIDE and makes some assertions that seem a bit hyperbolic to me, but then again, Zach's been right before.

The main thing of concern to me as a fan is -- will the great fights happen? Again, Zach isn't optimistic:

I still don't understand why hardcore MMA fans and online writers continue to demand that Fedor sign with UFC. The rhetoric that `he needs UFC, UFC doesn't need him' is silly. Fighting is a business and Fedor has made plenty of money being the best heavyweight in the world. He has nothing left to prove to anyone. Besides, if I'm his agent, I'd much prefer to get him signed to a deal with K-1 in Japan or work out a series of fights in Russia. That is where Fedor's marketability lies and where he has the best shot of making money. You don't see ad agencies like Dentsu clamoring to sign up UFC fighters, do you? The only fighter left that could provide a challenge to Fedor is Josh Barnett, and I have my doubts that we'll ever see that fight in America. The only location that fight can happen at is in Japan.