Just My Thoughts: The Stripping of the Champs


By Mike Sloan May 27, 2004
Zuffa has just stripped yet another of their champions. Is it madness or genius?

Well, folks, it has happened yet again; Zuffa, the owners of UFC, have done the dastardly deed by stripping newly-crowned welterweight champion BJ Penn of his title. Penn, who had recently signed on with K-1 to fight in that organization’s inaugural MMA event to face off against Duane Ludwig, wasn’t given the chance to defend his crown inside the Octagon.

Dana White, the president of UFC, stated simply that, “I am looking forward to moving on and crowning a new champion.”

That’s it? No explain-all statement? What gives?

Naturally, yours truly will be trying to land a quick one-on-one with Mr. Prez as well as Penn as soon as possible, but until then, I’ll just spew my thoughts on this topic. Without having been able to sit down with White as of press time, I’m not going to sit back, badger the guy and shout obscenities for no reason. So for argument’s sake, let’s get the facts first and analyze the situation before White is the victim of a senseless witch hunt.

Penn waltzes into the Octagon a few months back and easily manhandles defending champion Matt Hughes, eventually sinking in a rear naked choke to end the fight in the first round. Hughes is finished and the UFC crowns its first new welterweight champ in over two years. Penn then can’t decide whether he wants to defend his new gold-plated belt or slip back down to lightweight for “unfinished business.” From there, Penn is in limbo.

Penn eventually signs on with K-1 to fight in this past weekend’s MMA show in Saitama. I don’t know the exact details as to what Penn was offered from Zuffa and how much was dangled in front of his face from K-1, but it doesn’t take a bloody rocket scientist to figure out that the K-1 offer was substantially greater than Zuffa’s. Like all good businessmen, Penn bolted for the better payday.

Zuffa, in turn, immediately strips Penn of his welterweight title and pretty much bans him from the UFC, stating that he “will no longer compete in UFC events.” So there we go all over again; a fighter becomes a new UFC champ, and then within months is stripped of his title. At some point, this nonsense has to end. Everybody can blame Zuffa for this and rightfully so.

Or can they? Let’s examine all sides of the cube.
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