Last week, the new head honchos over at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) -- WME-IMG -- decided it was best to relieve Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes of their front-office duties.
Chuck -- the former light heavyweight champion of the world — served as UFC Executive Vice President of Business Development while Hughes — the ex-welterweight kingpin — worked as Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations.
Two jobs the new regime felt its "own people" could probably do better.
A few days removed from the firings, promotion president Dana White — who won’t be let go from his duties for at least another five years — appeared on the UFC Unfiltered podcast with Jim Norton and Matt Serra and touched on the recent mass firings within the company and explained how even though Matt and Chuck were "his guys," it was all business.
"When another company takes over another company, it’s absolutely normal for them to come in and especially at the executive level, to let guys go. They have guys that they are going to bring in that will fill those positions. Some of those people that have been let go, they have their own people ready for those positions. It’s their company, they roll in and they put in their people, it’s absolutely normal. A lot of our executives were let go, a company as big as WME-IMG, they have a ton of people for these positions. The Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes thing, during the ZUFFA era, those were my guys. I wanted them to retire, I respected these guys. They helped build this company when I was growing it and I told them both, I said, ‘Unless I drop dead or it comes to a position sometime where I’m not controlling how much money is being spent and all that stuff, you guys will get a paycheck until that day.’ And that day came. The thing with Matt and Chuck, it was a loyalty thing for me. It was my gift to them or being the guys that they were when me, Frank and Lorenzo, when it was our money."
Indeed, a company like WME-IMG that is responsible for getting deals, movies, jobs for some of the biggest actors and entertainers around the world aren’t short on having qualified executives on its roster.
Plus, they forked over $4 billion to acquire UFC, so they can do as they please.
Some, like UFC Matchmaker Joe Silva and Senior Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler, set sail long before they were axed (details here and here). But it seems these two other longtime employees could be getting a pink slip somewhere down the road.