What a messy week for mixed martial arts. Between GSP’s free agency/contract dispute, and the several high-profile UFC executives being released, we’re finally feeling the ramifications of the WME-IMG purchase, and so far it’s not looking pretty.
The layoffs were expected, unfortunately. ny new regime is going to run things their way, and although looking at who was let go may give a clue regarding future international plans, it’s still too early to determine the impact.
The GSP thing kinda came out of the blue. For months, there’s been plenty of speculation regarding his return, led by GSP himself stating his desire to compete again. And we knew negotiations had been ongoing simply because of Dana White’s media campaign questioning GSP’s motivation, which is how he always lets us know something’s brewing.
But what we didn’t know was how far GSP was willing to take this and, apparently, he’s willing to take it to court, or at least the court of public opinion. Like Dana, GSP brought his negotiations to the media, and now we’re all scrambling to figure out what’s really going on.
My gut reaction was to cheer GSP for knowing his worth and standing up for the fighters.
Upon further thought, however, I just don’t see him fighting anywhere else, which means GSP, just like WME-IMG, simply wants to get paid.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s far from being the guy who’s willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of the other fighters. If that were the case, GSP wouldn’t be asking out of his contract, he’d be ripping up his contract on TV and pleading the rest of the UFC roster to do the same. He’d be trying to organize fighters. He’s be calling for a union in public.
He’s not, though. He’s talking a good game to get support, but ultimately he really just wants a new contract, not for everyone, just for himself. Do we really think he would fight in Bellator? Or ONE? Or RIZIN? No way. GSP isn’t looking for a paycheck like our buddy Chael. He wants to see if he’s still the best. And right now, the best fighters fight in the UFC, plain and simple.
For how much longer, we shall see. While the UFC still holds most of the cards in the MMA deck, it’s no longer the Fertttas’ and Co. playing the hand. WME-IMG clearly has their own strategy, and you can be sure all of the fighters are paying attention to how this all unfolds. Perhaps if GSP doesn’t get a new deal, we’ll see him switch gears and actually do something to shift the power structure and facilitate better conditions for the fighters. Until then, it’s all just talk.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: GONZALES: The UFC is a-Changin’ – From C.M. Punk to Greg Hardy to Ben Affleck to Conan, what’s in store for UFC fans in 2017?
(Frank Gonzales is a new MMATorch contributor. Look for his column once a week here at MMATorch. Follow him on Twtter @frankieagogo.)