Online reports have suggested that contract negotiations between game publisher THQ and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have contributed to high profile fighter John Fitch and many of his teammates leaving the organization.
Reports from Sports Illustrated and other mixed martial arts weblogs suggest that Fitch refused to sign a lifetime contract for his likeness to be used by THQ in its games.
The move apparently came after earlier complaints by a majority of UFC stars over another lifetime and ancillary rights agreement.
Regarding the THQ contract specifically, Sports Illustrated quotes Fitch
as saying: "We thought that was kind of crazy. Why would you sign anything away for your lifetime?"
Fitch was allegedly told to either sign the contract or leave the UFC and he eventually choose the latter. Other fighters leaving the UFC at the same time include Josh Koscheck and Cain Velasquez, also from the American Kickboxing Academy, although the stable's Mike Swick has agreed to the contract.
"To have this happen is crazy," said Fitch. "This sport is definitely not about fighting anymore. It used to be about finding out who the best guy was, what the best style was. It's not about that anymore. It's about the top company making the most money."
THQ announced its first UFC game in June
, with UFC 2009 Undisputed
due to be released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and mobile devices next spring.
The game is part of an exclusive, worldwide agreement
signed with the UFC in January, to publish games based on the brand until 2011.
: According to a Fighters.com news story
, "fifth-ranked welterweight Jon Fitch (17-3) has resolved his dispute with the UFC and will return to the promotion... Fitch decided to sign a licensing contract for a UFC video game and will be back in the Octagon to face Akihiro Gono (30-13-7) at UFC 94 in Las Vegas 31 January."]