After a tumultuous 24 hours, during which he was abruptly terminated, former number one contender Jon Fitch is back on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) roster after a discussion with Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Feritta.
MMAmania.com spoke to Fitch, who described the conversation as, "good, really good."
He also added this via MMARated.com shortly after getting the good news:
"Communication kind of broke down with Dana (White) so we talked with Lorenzo. (I) just got off the phone with him and we came to an agreement. We’re going to move ahead and I’ll be back in the UFC. We’re going to sign off on the video game and I’m back. It was never even about the agreement or the contract. It was the approach that we felt Dana was being a little bit hot-headed and was threatening us right off the bat. It didn’t seem like a professional way of doing things."
White and the management team at Zinkin Entertainment, which represents several of the fighters who train at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) where Fitch is stationed, had an explosive falling out over business-related agreements just yesterday.
In short, White made it clear that the fighters at AKA needed to sign a video game agreement that would give the promotion exclusive lifetime rights to their likenesses or risk losing their jobs. It was the "your either with us or your not approach."
So when Fitch's management team attempted to negotiate the terms, which were nonnegotiable, White escalated the situation and cut ties with the camp, terminating the promotional contracts of Fitch and stablemate, Christian Wellisch, shortly thereafter.
The move sent shockwaves through the entire mixed martial arts community, which was made more alarming when the president of the company indicated that others could be next who did not want to be "partners." He indicated that the AKA contingent was historically the most troublesome when it came to the business side of things and that, essentially, he no longer wanted to work with them ... and their fighters.
That included Fitch, who is tied with Royce Gracie and Anderson Silva for the most consecutive wins in UFC history (eight). He even just recently lost a gutsy unanimous decision to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87: "Seek and Destroy" on August 9.
The message was clear: No one (at AKA, anyway) was safe.
Fitch today took to the airwaves to please his side of the story, saying that his management team, in fact, eventually encouraged him to sign the the deal. But based on the way he was treated and the way the situation was handled, Fitch stood his ground and worked to find a solution to a situation that probably should have never happened.
That solution, of course, was Lorenzo Fertitta. He spoke with Feritta directly (he never spoke to White throughout the ordeal) to hammer out a resolution.
He signed the video game agreement and was reinstated shortly thereafter. In fact, he is once again scheduled to fight Akihiro Gono at UFC 94: "St. Pierre vs Penn 2" on January 31 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
So in the end, cooler heads did indeed prevail. Now the focus can hopefully shift to what is really important, which is fighting ... inside the Octagon.
THQ -- the acclaimed video game development company -- is scheduled to release "Undisputed" sometime in early 2009.