When Dana White first heard that Jon Fitch described his experience with the promotion as a “hostile work environment,” the UFC boss had to do a double take.
After all, he and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta authorized more than $400,000 in non-contracted compensation for Fitch during his time with the promotion.
“In the time Jon Fitch was with us, we paid him $302,000 in discretionary bonuses – $302,000,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “That’s money that me and Lorenzo decided to give him above and beyond the deal that he signed. He also made $130,000 on performance bonuses for his two ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses. That’s a hostile work environment? Everything that Jon Fitch said is complete and total bull—t.”
Fitch (24-5-1 MMA, 0-0 WSOF) made his UFC debut in 2005 and promptly rattled off eight victories, earning a 2008 shot at UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87. Unfortunately for Fitch, he was soundly beaten in the five-round contest.
Fitch would rebound with another five wins, which earned him a No. 1 contender fight with B.J. Penn at 2011's UFC 127. Fitch and Penn fought to a disappointing majority draw, and neither fighter advanced to a title fight.
That draw marked the beginning of a slump for Fitch, who went 1-2-1 in his final four bouts for the promotion. Following the final fight of that run, a UFC 156 loss to Demian Maia this past Feburary, Fitch was waived from the promotion.
Fitch contends the UFC long wanted him gone and “didn’t like me or want me around,” but White said there’s a different reality.
“Jon Fitch said he was working under a hostile work environment and that he never had an opportunity and should have double the wins he had with us,” White said. “He was complaining about what he had to go through here, about people saying stuff under their breath to him and all this bulls—. Jon Fitch is so full of s–t. He’s f—ing delusional. First of all, he had every opportunity that anyone else had. After Georges St-Pierre beat the living s–t out of him, did we treat him differently or anything?
“Just to lay it out with facts, Jon Fitch lost to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87. He had an opportunity to fight for the title, and he got destroyed in that fight. He fought to a draw with B.J. Penn in a top contender fight. Then he gets a chance to be a No. 1 contender again and gets knocked f—ing dead in the first round by Johny Hendricks. What f—ing opportunities has he not been given?
“He was prominently featured on tons of UFC pay-per-view events. ‘GSP’-B.J. Penn was the main event at UFC 94, and Jon Fitch was on that fight card against Akihiro Gono. He was on UFC 100 vs. Paulo Thiago. He was on UFC 111 against Ben Saunders, and ‘GSP’ and Dan Hardy were the main event of that one. UFC 117 against Thiago Alves? That was Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen in the main event. He’s fought on all the most prominent cards. When he had a baby, we sent him an awesome baby basket. Do you do that to somebody you don’t give a s–t about? He’s 35 years old, and since 2011, he’s gone 1-2-1.”
White said the alleged tension between him and Fitch has been largely overblown. Critics have often pointed to a 2008 incident where the UFC briefly released him for refusing to sign over his likeness rights for a video game as lasting proof of a sour relationship. White contends that’s simply untrue.
“In business, you’re going to butt heads every now and then,” White said. “But I’ve said publicly many times that I have no grudge with Jon Fitch. That whole thing is overplayed.
“He was given multiple opportunities and couldn’t win the big fight. He’s trying to make it personal. It’s the furthest f—ing thing from personal.”
Of course, Fitch isn’t alone in his criticism of the UFC and its practices. Former light heavyweight champ Quinton Jackson (32-11 MMA, 0-0 BFC), who recently left the promotion in order to sign with Bellator MMA and professional wrestling organization TNA, has also berated his treatment by UFC brass and said he’s happier now that at any point in his UFC run, which ended earlier this year after Jackson suffered three consecutive losses.
“‘Rampage’ comes out and says he’s so happy – he’s the happiest he’s ever been,” White said. “Why wouldn’t he be happy? ‘Rampage’ himself, and I’m quoting ‘Rampage,’ came out and said, ‘I don’t have what it takes to compete with the best in the world anymore.’ That’s a quote from ‘Rampage.’ Now you’re fighting in (TNA) where the outcomes are predetermined. You can start winning again.
“I’m sure they’re paying him a s—load of money. Why would he not be happy? I’m happy for him, too. Good for him.”
Jackson had multiple complaints about his former employers, including unsatisfactory pay and a relationship that turned south following his 2010 role as B.A. Baracus in the feature film “The A-Team.” White said that’s not accurate.
“He’s full of s–t,” White said. “I was never the same after ‘The A-Team’? He was never the same after ‘The A-Team.’
“He lost his love of fighting a long time ago. He wanted to be a movie star. The movie star thing didn’t work out, so fighting is where he makes his money. Unfortunately, he’s unhappy about that. That’s not my fault.”
And so after two very public spats, Fitch will continue his career in the upstart World Series of Fighting promotion, while Jackson will fight for Bellator MMA and dabble in pro wrestling on the side.
That’s all fine with White, whose company remains the largest and most successful promotion in the sport. In truth, he probably could have let the comments just slide by, paying them no mind. But that’s never been White’s style, and he believes it’s important fans and pundits hear both sides of the story.
After all, both Fitch and Jackson are certainly parlaying much of the popularity they gained in the UFC into their current deals, and White doesn’t see why that’s such a bad thing, either.
“When we released Jon Fitch, I said right then that one of this other organizations would pick him up and he’d be a star there and probably hold their title,” White said. “How is that not good for Jon Fitch?”
(Pictured: Dana White)