Several of the UFC’s highest ranking staff members have been laid off this week, as the company’s new owners WME-IMG make swingeing cuts to the workforce.
The highest profile exec heading for the exit door on this occasion is Chief Global Brand Officer, Garry Cook, the former Chief Executive of English soccer club Manchester City, who was originally employed by the UFC as VP and Managing Director of Europe, Middle East and Africa in 2012.
Cook became an influential figure at UFC HQ, with Dana White once describing him as, “a rock star”, leading to him being promoted to Global Brand Officer and Head of International Business Development in 2014.
“This has been a magnificent experience with one of the greatest sports enterprises of the modern day. I am thankful and proud to have played a part in their brand story working with Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White, Lawrence Epstein and all the talented individuals at the UFC,” a statement from Cook read. “With the new leadership from WME/IMG the next era of continuing to redefine the global sports landscape is very exciting. I wish them well delivering on their vision for success.”
Marshall Zelaznik is another key figure behind the scenes who has also been shown the door by the new regime at Zuffa.
Zelaznik has been with the UFC for 10 years and initially served as the UK President, before moving on to a new role as Chief Content Officer in 2013.
Also on the way out is General Manager of Asia, Ken Berger and Senior VP of Global Content, Jamie Pollack.
In addition to that it’s also been confirmed that other staff members including Social media director Shanda Maloney, senior vice president of technology Ed Muncey and controller Brad Smuckler have also been let go in recent days.
Add to that the fact that CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, Vice President Of PR, Dave Sholler and UFC Brazil VP Giovanni Decker also left the company recently, along with chief matchmaker Joe Silva (though in his case he made the decision to leave after earning millions from the UFC’s sale), and it becomes clear that the central core of the previous incarnation of Zuffa has essentially been completely stripped out apart from UFC president Dana White.
In total it’s been reported that WME-IMG intend to reduce the total Zuffa workforce by 15%, equating to around 60-80 jobs in total, covering all aspects of the company including licensing, public relations and productions.
However, despite the cuts the UFC’s new owners have no plans to reduce the UFC’s event schedule.