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Rant: With Top Fighters Leaving The UFC, How Long Until The Promotion Is No Longer High Level?

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So lately we’ve been seeing a whole bunch of changes as far as the UFC is considered. Fighters are retiring and leaving the organization at a rate that seems pretty unusual considering the companies reputation as housing the greatest fighters in the world. The old saying is that if you’re not in the UFC you’re not fighting the best in the world. But with the company’s recent sale for billions of dollars, the fighters under the UFC banner are beginning to undergo a shift in thought process. The endeavor is called prize fighting for a reason and fighters are figuring that if they aren’t going to be paid what they’re worth then they’re going to explore their options.

Rick Story is apparently prepping to become a firefighter, something that most fans are finding to be at once alarming and fitting. He fought out his contract and ended up suffering a KO loss at the hands of Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. The loss likely harmed his chances at negotiating a better deal for himself. So instead of rush back to the cage, Story is thinking about the second phase of his life outside of fighting. Not everyone can be Conor McGregor after all.

So what exactly does this mean for the promotion that touts having the best fighters in the world?

It means that in order to keep their high level talent happy and coming back for more, they have to design contracts that are going to help them keep food on the table and build an adequate enough nest egg so they can ride off into sunset with confidence that their future is secure. In reality that’s a lot to ask. But these days, now that the fighters know what the brand is worth, they’re not willing to get brain damage for pennies.

This issue is also why I believe Kyoji Horiguchi decided to leave the organization for Rizin.

2017?4?16? ?????? ???? vs ???? #RIZIN2017 #RIZINFF #MMA #MMAJP #yokohamaarena @kyoji1012 @yuki.motoya

A post shared by RIZIN FF STAFF (@rizin_staff) onFeb 22, 2017 at 5:06am PST

While you can argue the fact that Horiguchi may have wanted to compete in a promotion that was closer to home, the evidence is pretty clear that before Zuffa was sold all the Japanese standout cared about was becoming the best in the world. Of course there can be other issues at play, but that doesn’t change the fact that one of the promotion’s top flyweights has found himself signing up with another organization. It’s all speculation for now, but you have to wonder if Rizin gave Kyoji Horiguchi an offer he couldn’t refuse. If they were willing to bring him the money he requested then why not take the offer.

So what exactly is my point?

Phillipe Nover retires, Valerie Letourneau is cut, and now Kyoji Horiguchi is with Rizin. If you can’t see that there’s a pattern here then you’re clearly blind. The UFC is facing a bit of a conundrum. They were able to resign Georges St-Pierre which is definitely a big win for them. That means potential pay-per-view events that will bring in higher buy-in rates. But while the company may be able to show Georges St-Pierre the money, fighters like Rick Story and Kyoji Horiguchi are going to feel inclined to look at their options outside of the promotion. While it’s up to the fighters to build their own brand in order to generate more money for themselves, you have to think that if a competitor feels like he isn’t being given what their worth that they’ll seek employment elsewhere. For the promotion that claims to have the best fighters on the planet under their roof, the more we see departures of solid high level talent like Story and Horiguchi, the less that claim seems true. The UFC has trouble brewing on the horizon and if they don’t stop the bleeding now then things are only going to get worse.

What do you think about the current landscape of the UFC?

Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.

Source: Fox Sports

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