By Curtis Clontz on Oct 20, 2008
The free agency market plays a key role in almost every professional sport in America. Think about some of the players that have changed hands due to this monetary free for all. Roger Clemens, and even Alex Rodriguez are considered to be some of the most prevalent free agents in MLB’s recent history. When a player becomes a free agent it can be for several reasons such as money, respect, or a chance to win. In MMA there are some key names on the market; types of athletes that are guaranteed to generate tons of attention and money for their parent company once they are signed. Tito Ortiz and Antwain Britt are two that are sure to make a splash once they are signed, but for all different reasons. Additionally not every organization is right for both of these fighters. We will now look at each one and see which is the perfect fit for these great fighters.
Any young American fighter at this time has a handful of choices when it comes to fighting. The top organizations are the UFC, Affliction, and EliteXC. Each one of these groups have their own share of pros and cons. Affliction is the 2nd best group on our half of the world. If a fighter called them home, they would be greeted with a decent upside, but also a downside. Affliction started as a clothing company but turned MMA organization seemingly overnight. They assumed that if they threw tons of money toward the fighters they would flock to them. They landed the biggest fish in Fedor, as well as Barnett, Sylvia, and Arlovski.
The bad news is they seem to be having some internal problems. Josh Barnett wants the money promised as well as better fight scheduling. Speaking of money, rumor has it that this jump start org. is struggling a bit, and that if their next card doesn’t end in the green then they may be in real trouble. For a young fighter this is what I would call medium risk. If they won two or three fights they would be in the title hunt if not the champion. If they want to have gold around their waist very fast then this is a real choice. However, they would never be considered the top dog in the world and with the rumored problems they could be in for a job search win or lose in the future.
Another option that could be at the disposal of a fighter could be the step toward the Elite XC. First off, negative publicity is still publicity. Think about how many times you have talked about Kimbo or Gina Carano in the past 2 weeks. Elite XC is not going to go bankrupt in the next month. However, if you are an up and coming fighter do you want to be in a place that is carried by a heavyweight that is making 500,000 a fight but can’t beat any top 15 big guys, and has to have his opponents hand picked to fight? If a 205 fighter was to come in and dominate he could be the next face of Elite XC. He could be the guy to add excitement into the cage and outside of the circus. Another positive note would be the television time; prime time CBS on Saturday night. If placed on the Carano vs. Cyborg card, or Kimbo vs. Petruzelli rematch they would receive tons of hype and views. It could open other job opportunities and put some cash in their pockets.
This organization is also lacking in depth. They have no current 205 pound champ and they may be looking to fill that void. One or two wins over their best equals a title. The problem with the Elite XC is that they are also having their share of problems. They are one large conviction by anyone with a badge on the Kimbo loss to being in very hot water. If it comes out that they have fixed or influenced fights they will be all but over! Realistically nothing is going to happen and there will be a fine, but if Kimbo takes another loss they may lose viewers and start to struggle to make money.
It is no question where the best place to be in MMA is. The UFC is the best, deepest, and safest bet. If a fighter signs with the UFC then their stay is determined by two things, wins and losses. If they win, they stay. They would be in the mix with the best fighters in the world, no question. It seems like the champion in every weight division is at least in talks to be the best in the world at that weight. Penn, GSP, Silva, Forrest, and Nog/ Randy are all beasts! Imagine the names of fighters that are at least 1 fight out of contention such as Chuck, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, and Wand and more. If you are worried about the longevity of an organization this is one that you can rest easy about with the UFC. They are not going anywhere. They are not going bankrupt nor do they have any problems with paying the bills. They have at least 1 event every month and has the most upside of every organization in the world!
If there is a bad side to the biggest group in the world, it would be the payment. At present time they are not paying their fighters what they are worth. Kimbo Slice made $500,000 in his very short loss a few weeks ago. Anderson Silva is the best fighter in the world and isn’t making that… In time the UFC will begin to pay their fighters better, but for now they just aren’t paying like the others are. Another thing to think about is the relationship with the UFC and their fighters. Some athletes have said that the UFC can be hard to work with just as Chuck or Tito.
Looking at two different fighters in Antwain Britt and Tito Ortiz, they should go to different places. Tito needs to go somewhere that is going to pay for Tito Enterprises. They need to be able to pay for Tito himself in the cage, but also help promote his Punishment line. Tito is more a business man than fighter at this point in his career. He may only have 2 or 3 fights left. He needs to make the money and ride off into the sunset. If he signs with Elite XC and gets the title he should ride off into the sunset and become a coach. The money he makes from those few fights can help him establish his gym and help it to grow and possibly rival those of Team Quest, Extreme Couture, or ATT. On the other side of the house we have up and coming superstar Antwain “The Juggernaut” Britt. You may have seen him fighting on The Ultimate Fighter, but an unfortunate injury left him training back in VA Beach without a place to call home in terms of a major MMA organization. If he was to fight in the Elite XC and he really is the type of fighter many believe, he could walk through the competition and get a belt within a year. He would make good money and have no problems. That is until he got at the top. Once their then he may stalemate. He would be considered to be the best they had to offer, but would never be considered to be the greatest in the world by many. Plus, if they fold or have financial problems it could hurt the star. Realistically it is all about goals. If Tito wants to have a few fights, dominate once again and roll out he can pretty much sign anywhere minus the UFC. If he wants to truly establish himself once again his options are very limited. The same applies for Antwain. If he wants to be the best 205 pounder, fighting against the toughest opponents, in the deepest division on the planet then he waits for the call from Joe Silva. That could be a slower road to the fame and money, but if that is something he wants fast then he could sign with the Elite XC now, show just how dominant he can be, then he can call Joe Silva and say I want in. Both of these fighters are going to do well anyplace they go. They are both beasts in their own ways and will put people in the seats. This is just the start of the MMA free agent market. In the future we may have names such as Roger Huerta, Lyoto Machida, or even Anderson Silva become free agents. The markets are open, in the future there will be huge free agent changes!
MMAOpinion will continue to cover this market and the moves of each one of your favorite fighters! If you have thoughts about this article, free agency, or anything MMA email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and stay tuned to the site.
About the Author: Curtis works as an associate editor for MMA Opinion. He is the old man of the bunch at 28. Like many of our viewers he is a U.S. Military vet. He has spent almost 9 years in the U.S. Navy. The Aviation Rescue Swimmer spends his time engulfed in the world of MMA. He has written for over 9 different websites and online magazines in all. He helps out with ESPN Radio 1310’s The Fight Zone on a regular basis. Curtis is a sports enthusiast and loves Duke basketball.