The great thing about MMA news is that eventually, all truths come to light. A story will change 50 times over the course of it’s development, but in the end you get to know what happened if you know where to look. Case in point: a few weeks ago we were wondering where the fuck Andrei Arlovski was. Well, now we know: Zuffa’s benched him until he signs a new contract.
For those not familiar with the UFC’s brand of contract negotiation, let’s revisit Cut Throat Business Tactics 101. You sign a guy to a two year, four fight contract. That guy fights three times in 14 months. Now is the time that you want this fighter to re-sign with you.
But geez whiz, why now? This guy still has a fight left on his contract! Why don’t we wait till his contract is over before renegotiating? Because this is fucking ‘Cut Throat Business 101’, not ‘I Wanna Be Your Best Friend Forever Business 101’. If you wait until the contract is over, you have to compete with other promoters to re-sign your guy. But if you’ve got 8 months left on his contract, you can bench him until he re-signs with you. No new contract? Then he doesn’t see the light of day until his current contract is up.
This all serves a few purposes: You no longer have to compete with other promotions for the fighter’s services. This keeps prices low. If a fighter waits long enough for his contract to expire, the lack of exposure has probably done a number on his popularity too. This also lowers the price he can get. Finally, if a guy really doesn’t want to re-sign with you, you can stuff him in a dark match with a professional blanket to make him look bad on the way out. That’s always a good old fashioned ‘Fuck You’ to throw in at the end of a business relationship.
Now some people may call that evil, but others just prefer to call it ‘smart business’.