UFC Layoffs: Is MMA Giant Going Out Of Business?

UFC layoffs were inevitable.

A company spends more than $4 billion to purchase a property, they probably want to run it in a way that is specific to their vision.

That seems to be the case with the world’s most successful mixed martial arts organization. On Oct. 19, MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported that Canadian executive Tom Wright had met with the axe courtesy of the new ownership.

Wright was the Executive Vice President and General Manager for Operations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Formerly of the Canadian Football League, Wright had worked at the organization since 2010.

Wright’s firing is the next in a long line of executives losing their jobs since WME-IMG purchased the company earlier this year.

While UFC Head Dana White continues to fulfill his duties for the new owners — and has signed a five-year contract to enhance the company’s stability — it’s not hard to envision a future where UFC layoffs claim him as well.

And one cannot help but think it’s the beginning of the end for the company.

When you think about how far White and the Fertittas took the UFC — they purchased it for $2 million less than two decades ago and were able to grow it into a billion-dollar global brand — the idea that a new batch of owners could come in and continue to grow the brand in the same manner seems a bit ludicrous, especially when the overlords have no experience whatsoever in MMA.

Ridding themselves so quickly of the very team that made such gains possible is short-sighted at best, and if the UFC layoffs continue, they are liable to show immediate repercussions.

Given that standing, what happens to Ultimate Fighting Championship in a post-Fertittas world? Here are two outcomes you can expect sooner rather than later.

Firstly, UFC layoffs will lead to opportunities for competition.

The UFC is already up against a formidable opponent in Scott Coker. Coker is now overseeing the growth and development of Bellator on SpikeTV. He has expanded the brand into kickboxing only and given fighters the ability to cross over from MMA to kickboxing and vice versa.

He also has a long track record with success. His PKA Karate created one of the first lucrative exclusive deals with ESPN in the 1980s. He would later grow Strikeforce to a legitimate brand, finding many of the UFC’s current top talents, including Ronda Rousey.

Coker built up Strikeforce with the goal of selling at a profit, and he did — to UFC.

Now he’s back at Bellator and providing a more fighter-friendly environment. He allows endorsement deals, multiple ways to earn, and understands the balance between showmanship and competition better than the new ownership.

Secondly, the rise of Bellator and other organizations as a result of the UFC layoffs will empower fighters.

Empowering fighters sounds like a great thing, and it is — to an extent. But the other edge of that sword can be seen in the boxing world. Many fighters duck tough fights, protect their records, and pick-and-choose when and who they fight based on preference.

That hasn’t been good for boxing, and it won’t be good for MMA, long-term. Fighters will earn more, but many of the big exciting fights UFC makes will be harder to make moving forward because fighters will become “businessmen.”

With UFC layoffs continuing without reason, it’s hard to see if the new owners have a clear vision for the company. But what do you think, readers? Sound off in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons/Resized and Cropped/CC BY-SA 2.0]