Former top-ranked contender Fitch rejoins UFC a day after termination
Jon Fitch and UFC parted ways briefly due to a marketing-rights dispute
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta orchestrated the truce between the parties
Less than a day after welterweight Jon Fitch was released from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the former No. 1 contender is back with mixed martial arts' top promotional company.
Fitch told SI.com that his return to the UFC, first reported by MMARated.com, started when co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta joined the discussion on Thursday.
UFC President Dana White on Wednesday released Fitch, currently ranked among the top five 170-pounders in the sport, and threatened the same for other American Kickboxing Academy fighters including Josh Koscheck and Cain Velasquez, over a dispute stemming from ancillary image rights.
Fitch said White gave him an ultimatum: Either sign over his name and likeness in perpetuity for a UFC-licensed game produced by THQ, or accept his release.
When Fitch declined, he was out. The fighter and his management criticized the deal as too restrictive, and expressed their stance was a response to the "strong-arm" tactics used by White. Fitch also said he was being made an example of to "scare the rest of the fighters into signing."
After signing Thursday following discussions with Fertitta, Fitch said his hesitation "was never about the video game deal. It was how they presented it and how Dana talked to us. We were able to talk things out with Lorenzo."
The 30-year-old Fitch, a former wrestler for Purdue University, Ind., will fight under the same agreement he signed prior to his short-lived free agency, and is set to face Akihiro Gono at UFC 94.
AKA trainer Bob Cook, who represents several of the gym's fighters under Zinkin Entertainment, a sports management company based out of Fresno, Calif., said the gym, which has produced many known fighters, will continue its relationship with the UFC.