"Strikeforce fighters have been kicking ass in the UFC recently. They have been fighting their hearts out and everybody thinks it's because they are afraid and trying to make an impression to keep their jobs
nah, it's because they can fight. If you watched Strikeforce, most of those guys went out there and put it on the line, which is why Strikeforce was as successful as it was," stated world-renowned manager Mike Kogan, who talked more about the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator, and much more. Check it out!
PC: The UFC released 16 fighters at once and basically said up to 100 fighters will have to be released. What does that say about the company and their plans moving forward?
MK: Well, I think that whole situation is just unfortunate because you can't fault an organization for cutting some of the fighters off of their list if they have too many. The UFC is a business. They are not a charitable organization that can just keep 500 people on if they don't need them. It's the same in every sport. If the average NFL team has 110 players, eventually they gotta get that down to something like a 55-man roster. They not gonna keep all of those players just because they feel bad for a guy because they have nowhere else to go. But at the same time, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on these kids, and not just fighting, but to perform. I mean, you can win a really boring decision and be put on the blacklist or the next loss and you're out of here. And at the same time, you can go out there and fight your heart and lose and they might keep you, and then again, at the same time, they might not. They might say, "You have lost 3 fights. We are gonna cut you." It's really sad, but ultimately, I don't think you can point the finger at the UFC and say, "Hey, how can you guys do that?" It's just a really vicious sport and no other sport are you this close to losing your job.
Now, the unfortunate part is you almost have nowhere else to go. If you are a mediocre NFL player and you get cut by one team, there is a very good possibility that you will get picked up by another team. You would still make your NFL minimum even if you're second or third string; at least you will have a job. Here, if you get fired you, have Bellator to go to if they are interested. And Bellator has already made it clear that they are not the dumping grounds for the UFC rejects. So you would have to be some gangster fighter or somebody that really fits into their format and what they are trying to do. If not, then you are out on the road; we're talking World Series of Fighting or smaller promotions like RFA, XFC, or wherever. They can only hold so many and a lot of these regional shows are ticket sales oriented, so unless you have a name, they won't consider you either, so you could really be out of a job. For a normal person, it would be like losing your job and no one else does what you are doing. There is nowhere else to go and it's terrible, but it's one of the realities of life and there is just nothing you can do about it. You can't force the UFC to keep every fighter on roster.
PC: Well, the question I have been getting, and it kind of goes with what you said is, if they had too many fighters and they don't need bodies, why would they purchase Strikeforce and continue to do The Ultimate Fighter series, which adds fighters to the roster as well?
MK: They bought Strikeforce because Strikeforce was gaining too much momentum. It's just something you do when you are in a business that we are in. when someone gets too much momentum, you buy them. They didn't sit around and say, "Oh my God, what's going to happen to these poor guys from Strikeforce when we buy 'em and we don't need all of 'em?" They were like, "Strikeforce is gaining a whole lot of momentum and we gotta shut it down before they gain too much momentum." Don't forget, Bellator didn't get on Spike until this year. The buying wasn't done until some point last year. Well, the UFC knew that they were gonna leave Spike before. They had a year to renew and then they kept negotiating over the deal and then they started talking to FOX. You and I didn't know, but the UFC knew. If you are the UFC and you go, "If we get off of Spike and Strikeforce gets wind of this and they get on Spike, we are gonna be in a serious battle. We need to start buying them now before all of this shit gets out." That's why they bought it, but they didn't buy it with the intention of keeping all of the fighters happy. They absorbed as many Strikeforce fighters that they could and actually, Strikeforce fighters have been kicking ass in the UFC recently. They have been fighting their hearts out and everybody thinks it's because they are afraid and trying to make an impression to keep their jobs nah, it's because they can fight. If you watched Strikeforce, most of those guys went out there and put it on the line, which is why Strikeforce was as successful as it was. They bought 'em, but they gonna keep as many as they can. They are not just cutting all of the Strikeforce guys; they also letting some of the UFC guys go too. It's an unfortunate and sad situation, but at the same time, it's not something that you can point your finger at and say, "How dare you do that?" They can't just keep people around forever for no reason!
PC: Were you surprised by the release of Jon Fitch?
MK: You know, I actually was because I think what they did with Fitch was they never liked his fighting style. That was never a secret. When he was on a 14-fight winning streak, they had to take to him and he had a name and he was ranked. If you are gonna send a message to your fight roster that nobody is safe, what better way to do it than to cut a name like Fitch. Fitch became a sacrificial lamb. They can live without him and it wouldn't be a major setback. I mean, 15 other fighters got canned too and nobody talks about any of them except for Fitch. If you are sort of a star in the UFC and they see Fitch let go, and he was ranked #9 on their rankings and they let that guy go, it's like, "Holy shit, nobody is safe. We all gotta step it up." So no, I'm not that surprised. I think it makes sense. It sucks for Fitch, but it does make sense.
PC: And something you just mentioned was the success that former Strikeforce guys are having in the UFC. It has been a trend of those guys coming over, and in the Ed Herman/Jacare situation, Herman went over and got finished.
MK: The fans that have been following mixed martial arts with an open mind knew this could happen to begin with. That's why Strikeforce was gaining the momentum and having great success because people realize those guys can fight. I think the fans that only follow the UFC or only listen to what Dana says, they are always gonna believe if you're not in the UFC, then you're not worth a damn. But that's just straight marketing. There is a big contingency of fans that understand an exciting fight is an exciting fight, no matter where it is. That's evident by Bellator's recent ratings on Spike. I think they are doing tremendously well and obviously that shows you that there are a large number of MMA fans that are not brainwashed and just want to watch exciting fights.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]