One of the hallmarks of collective bargaining in major league sports in North America is the accessibility of athlete contract details. The reason is simple. When athletes know the market rate for their services they can leverage that information to negotiate a deal in their best interests. Simply put knowledge is power. You would be hard pressed to find a certified agent in major league sports saying athletes should be kept in the dark when it comes to market rates.
Enter the bizarro world of MMA. In what I can only describe as a perplexing position, a recent declaration was published (h/t Paul Gift) by one of MMA’s most prominent managers arguing, not on behalf of fighters but on behalf of a promoter, that fighter contracts should remain secret.
The context is a lawsuit involving the UFC. The Court was tasked with deciding whether a fighter contract used in the litigation should be sealed. The UFC managed to wrangle a declaration from a fighter manager who argued that if fighter contracts were published that would somehow harm fighters exposing them to the risk of kidnapping, extortion and requests for loans from friends and family. More bizarre, the manager suggested that if contracts were a matter of public record that would give a “strategic advantage to MMA promoters in negotiations with fighters“. How that could be is difficult to imagine but in any event below is the declaration
This flies in the face of the UFC’s own arguments in support of confidentiality, namely that if contracts were a matter of public record it would harm their ability to negotiate with fighters as evidenced by the below excerpt –
In other words the UFC is saying contracts should remain secret because it would harm their ability to negotiate yet a manger, who owes a fiduciary duty to get the best deal for fighters, says its fighters that would be harmed.
I invite any certified sports agents in collectively bargained sports to share your views as to whether there is any merit in this declaration.