Since the new UFC owners have taken over control of the company, the WME-IMG owners have sparked quite a bit of controversy as they have fired numerous high-level executives, including most of the UFC Canada office. Their most recent firings however, saw none other than UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes receive their walking papers, much to the dismay of the MMA community.
Both men had been with the company behind the scenes for many years following their retirement from fighting, with Liddell serving as the UFC’s Executive VP of Business Development for over 5 years, while Hughes served as the VP of Athlete Development & Government Relations for three years.
During a recent interview on UFC Unfiltered, UFC President Dana White explained why both men were fired, saying:
“When another company takes over another company, it’s absolutely normal for them to come in and especially at the executive level, to let guys go. They have guys that they are going to bring in that will fill those positions. Some of those people that have been let go, they have their own people ready for those positions. It’s their company, they roll in and they put in their people, it’s absolutely normal. A lot of our executives were let go, a company as big as WME-IMG, they have a ton of people for these positions.”
“The Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes thing, during the ZUFFA era, those were my guys,” he said. “I wanted them to retire, I respected these guys. They helped build this company when I was growing it and I told them both, I said, ‘Unless I drop dead or it comes to a position sometime where I’m not controlling how much money is being spent and all that stuff, you guys will get a paycheck until that day.’ And that day came. The thing with Matt and Chuck, it was a loyalty thing for me. It was my gift to them or being the guys that they were when me, Frank and Lorenzo, when it was our money.”
Liddell has maintained radio silence on the matter since it was revealed that he had been fired, while Hughes released a brief statement on the matter, which read:
“The UFC has been great to me,” Hughes said. “Times change, and I understand the decision that was made. I will move on. My family and I are fine.
“I do love adventure, and who knows what’s next for me.”