Despite the grit of combat sports athletes when facing each other in the ring or cage, few have similar nerve in standing up for themselves and demanding contractual reform. One sided contractual terms are common and are rarely challenged through the judicial process. Fighters fear the pen which can be mightier than the sword. Fighters also should not hold their breath hoping legislatures will fix ‘oppressive’ MMA contracts any time soon.
This week the UFC / Reebok uniform sponsorship numbers were leaked and these revealed a significant income cut for many of the UFC’s fighters.
The reaction from fighters has not been positive with many voicing displeasure:
So what can fighters do about developments such as this? As Mitrione points out, standing out from the crowd makes a fighter a target. Few are brave enough to take the hit if it means sacrificing much needed pay.
The solution is strength in numbers. If a critical mass of fighters band together (hint a MMA Fighters Association) it would not take much to stand up and demand minimum reforms to create a better playing field between MMA fighters and promoters.
Minimum terms can be demanded such as limits on contract length, elimination of contract matching clauses, elimination of champions clause contract extensions (ie – preventing free agency when an athlete is at their most valuable), allowing athletes to have limited rights to their fight footage for self promotional purposes (take a look at Bas Rutten’s YouTube Channel to see the value in this) and less restrictive sponsorship terms.
This can be achieved. It just takes will and action. Imagine if enough fighters were on the same page and refused to take further fights unless sensible across the board contract terms were required going forward? A promoter can’t force an athlete to fight. Imagine if a promoter could not fill a fight card? Change would come quickly.
Instead of tweeting displeasure MMA fighters should work together for common reform. Its in their own interest and in the interest for the long term survival of the sport. Fighters, you have more power than you think. If you work together you don’t have to fear the pen, you can pick it up and use its strength as your own.