As recently discussed there is a race for control of Mixed Martial Arts fighter organization efforts with the longstanding Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association expressing concern about the Professional Fighters Association bursting onto the scene after the UFC’s $4 Billion sale.
The MMAFA has now published the below press release urging for fighters to join their organization. The one thing clear from recent developments is that a rift appears to exist in organization efforts and promoters, not fighters, benefit from this reality. As previously discussed, if fighters are going to enjoy any success in organizing, Big Tent politics will be key. Stakeholders must be on the same page to ensure the best representation of fighters interests and hopefully efforts to do so are going on behind the scenes.
August 15, 2016
Statement from the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA) Organizing Committee
My brothers and sisters, fellow professional mixed martial artists, you’ve probably noticed great changes coming to the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) over the past few months. The question we all have is whether these changes will serve to benefit fighters or not. The MMAFA is actively engaged in ensuring these changes benefit fighters and the time has come to ask you to join us to make sure that happens.
Over the years, the MMAFA has been involved in lawsuits against promotions including KOTC, Pride, and the effort to free fighters from EliteXC. Each of these efforts were resolved successfully in favor of the fighters. Currently, our members are the Plaintiffs spearheading the antitrust lawsuit against the UFC in an effort to restore competition to the market and to provide damages to all proposed class members.
The MMAFA is also leading the charge to change federal law by enacting the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act, which will extend protections already enjoyed by boxers to all combat sports. We have appeared numerous times on behalf of our fellow athletes in front of the Association of Boxing Commissions and individual state commissions to support improved conditions for fighters. We have also supported various state efforts seeking changes in laws favorable to fighters. We aggressively utilize the tools and resources at our disposal, and have been laying the groundwork for improvements for all fighters for more than 10 years.
We do not seek to destroy, nor are we anti-promotion. We are vigorously pro-fighter in our actions and campaigns. We are learning, complaining to press or on social media will not lead to effective change. We are organizing to effectively respond to our current condition as professional MMA fighters in the most effective way possible and in business like fashion. Our successes will enable all aspects of the MMA industry to thrive, leading to better equipped, healthier athletes competing in a more competitive marketplace.
Our record speaks for itself—we have been paving the road for improvements for all our fellow athletes for years. We have an experienced and dedicated executive team that has provided incredible support to our efforts for years. We cannot thank them enough, and we thoroughly trust their advice and counsel. The MMAFA, however, is a democracy, comprised of member fighters and trainers who can change the direction of MMAFA and/or replace executive committee members. We, as professional MMA fighters and trainers who are members in the MMAFA determine our own fate.
With our success and news of the UFC’s sale we are likely to see others offer to assist in organizing a “fighter’s union.” Of course they will not have similar knowledge of the industry, nor will they have much of a track record looking out for MMA fighters. But they will still be offering their assistance . . . for a price. Further efforts to organize fighters only lead to delays. In the coming days and weeks, you will likely receive lawyer solicitations, union solicitations, and solicitations from your own agents to get involved in organizing efforts. We urge you to politely decline all such requests. Together, in one unified movement, we will succeed.
To all agents wishing to get involved in organizing the MMAFA, we urge you to encourage your fighters to contact the fighters involved in our effort, or any member of our executive team. We have learned from the examples of other sports who have successfully organized, and who prohibit agents from involvement in the operations of the players associations. Agent efforts to organize and agent involvement in association operations suffer from two fatal conflicts. First, agents vigorously compete with each other, creating divisions preventing successful formation and operation of the association. Second, agents appropriately view all issues through the lens of “my clients.” Association efforts, on the other hand, must be viewed through the lens of all member fighters.
Agents can greatly assist in our efforts moving forward by supporting our efforts to enact the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act, H.R. 5365, by signing our petitions and voicing your support for needed changes in the sport we are all involved with together. When we succeed, the agents will benefit greatly as purse levels and endorsement opportunities will dramatically increase leading to increased earnings for our agents. As professional fighters, our careers are short, in contrast to an agent’s career that can last decades enabling our agents to reap the benefits of our successes long into the future.
Please join all of us and the MMAFA. Together, we will succeed in securing desperately needed protections for our fellow athletes, and also enable our sport to reach its natural potential.
MMAFA Organizing Committee