WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST 10/19: UFC corporate cutbacks described as “purge,” Jose Aldo-UFC meet, GSP drama continues

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

Jose Aldo (photo credit Gary A. Vasquez © USA Today Sports)


The dreaded inevitability of corporate cutbacks at UFC headquarters began Tuesday as several high ranking executives were let go in what has been described as purge of up to 15 percent of UFC office staff at all levels.

Notable departures on Tuesday included Garry Cook, who was UFC’s chief global branding officer, chief content officer Marshall Zelaznik, and Asian and Latin American heads Ken Berger and Jaime Pollack.

The firing spree continued on Wednesday with much of the UFC Canada office in Toronto being let go including Tom Wright, the former Canadian Football League commissioner. Wright, aside from heading up operations in Canada, was also responsible for the Australian and New Zealand territories. He came on board in 2010 and helped have the sport regulated in Ontario, which led to UFC 129 in Toronto, setting the company’s live gate record that still holds up to this day and the attendance record which was only broken last year in Australia, Wright’s other territory.

There is no indication when or where the firings will end other than a statement from UFC indicating layoffs would total less than 15 percent of the total workforce. Ariel Helwani had tweeted that the mood around the Las Vegas office was comparable to that of a morgue.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: This is unfortunate as it’s likely been very stressful for office staff since the takeover occurred to have the threat of layoffs looming for the past couple of months. There was likely a lot of distrust as well since employees were lied to about the sale until both sides went public with it this summer. It’s a harsh reality of corporate takeovers these days that these types of cutbacks are all too common. It must sting for the Toronto office as they are in the midst of an on-sale push for UFC 206 and there was the possibility of it being a very big show at one point as well. It will be interesting to see how WME-IMG restructures going forward as many of the regional heads have been let go. Will they appoint new people to those positions or will they amalgamate many of these territories, or will they focus less on being global and promote more domestically? Surely, WME-IMG has a direction in mind, let’s hope it’s more than just saving money.


-Georges St-Pierre’s legal team is holding their stance that his contract with UFC is terminated. They told Brett Okamoto at ESPN that the main reason for termination of the contract is that they didn’t offer a fight to GSP by the end of 2016. In speaking to MMA Fighting, his team compared the one-sided wording of the contract to “something out of the 1940s” and something that is “unheard of in professional sports.”

-Jose Aldo met with Dana White in Las Vegas today. Outside the headquarters, he told reporters that nothing has changed, that he still doesn’t want to fight but ruled out a lawsuit.

-”The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is ready to return to the UFC after taking three years off to fulfil military obligations in South Korea. He last fought in August 2013 losing to Jose Aldo in a championship fight. He is requesting a fight with B.J. Penn. (SOURCE LINK)

-Enrique Marin has been cut by UFC after his UFC 200 loss to Sage Northcutt. Marin was the runner up of TUF Latin America Season 2.


-Alexis Davis vs. Sara McMann at the TUF Finale on Dec. 3 from Las Vegas. Davis is returning after having a baby earlier this year.

-Urijah Faber vs. Brad Pickett, Scott Holtzman vs. Josh Emmett, and Sultan Amiev vs. Bojan Velickovic at UFC on Fox on Dec. 17 from Sacramento.

-Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny, and Brandon Thatch vs. Sabah Homasi at UFC 207 on Dec. 30 from Las Vegas.

-Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez vs. Sheila Padilla at Bellator 165 on Nov. 19 in San Jose. Taylor-Melendez is married to UFC fighter Gilbert Melendez and is making her professional debut.

-Chael Sonnen vs. Tito Ortiz is official for Bellator 170 on Jan. 21 from Los Angeles.

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 10/18: Not so fast, GSP – UFC says he’s locked in under contract and isn’t a free agent, Rousey-Cyborg hype (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)

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