There is little debate that UFC fighters would enjoy benefits from forming a meaningful union or players association. The benefits are so obvious that the UFC’s own lawyers, in court filings, essentially mocked fighters for their low pay arguing that absent a union the UFC’s roster should not expect a revenue split similar to that enjoyed in major professional sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.
So why has the UFC roster been so slow to organize? Some point the finger at fighter managers, some of whom discourage their clients from joining labor organization efforts.
Given the presumed legal and financial advantages to organization, why would some managers oppose these efforts? It may be that they are putting their own interests ahead of their clients. One hallmark of players associations is the imposition of quality control measures on managers and limitations on compensation for managers.
For example, the NFLPA requires managers to certified. They must have a degree from an accredited college or university and their fees are capped at 3%.
The MLBPA requires that agents only charge fees on salaries negotiated over and above the league’s collectively bargained minimum.
The NBPA requires agents to be certified and requires agents to have a degree from an accredited university or college. The association also lists prohibited conduct by agents, a breach of which can lead to stripping of certification.
The NHLPA requires agent certification and requires that a player pocket at least the league minimum collectively bargained salary after the agent takes their cut.
If the UFC’s roster was to organize it is not a stretch to imagine similar restrictions on management pay being imposed. It does not take a deep thinker to see why some managers would be opposed to an MMA players Association or Union.
This is where things become legally troubling. If agents are placing their own interests over those of their clients they are in breach of a fiduciary duty.
A fiduciary duty is a the highest legal duty between people. It is imposed in the agency relationship. In short it means agents must act in their clients best interests, not placing their own financial interests above their clients. If agents breach this fiduciary duty they can be exposed to a suit for damages for harming their clients interests.
If you are an active roster UFC fighter and your manager does not want you joining union/association efforts ask why not? Get all the facts on the table. From there make an informed decision about whether organizing is in your best interests.