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Collective bargaining would be untenable in the UFC

Discussion in 'UFC Discussion' started by Alpha_T83, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    With the recent thread(s) about the UFC's negotiation tactics with fighters, I once again see people suggesting that fighters should unionize. There are a litany of reasons why this wouldn't work, but the biggest reason is as follows:

    Any UFC union would require the biggest PPV stars to sign on. Although a union would absolutely increase fighter pay overall -- earning fighters 50% revenue sharing -- the highest paid athletes would likely lose money from unionization.

    But why would unionization cost PPV stars money? When you look at leagues like the NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB, basketball has the largest ratio of highest to lowest paid athletes at roughly 100-fold. Any UFC union would almost certainly not exceed this ratio.

    In short, there would be a maximum athlete salary.

    This means that guys like Conor McGregor would legally not be allowed to earn more than $10 million per fight if the lowest paid UFC athlete was making $100k per fight. Even if you do revenue sharing per event, the UFC would have to pay the lowest paid athlete on the PPV card $500k for Conor to make $50 million. That's never going to work.

    The best hope for MMA athletes to earn more money is to extend Boxing's Ali Act to MMA, which creates a maximum contract length of 1 year. This gives athletes more freedom to work with other organizations, fostering competition.
     
  2. DeathStroke

    DeathStroke Blue Belt

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    I agree with just about everything there. The allure of a big payday far outweighs the safety of a few small ones.
     
  3. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Thanks!

    Yea, even if I'm over-estimating the earnings loss of PPV stars, I still don't see them being willing to take that risk. As you said, once you've made it and you're earning the big payday, it just outweighs any risk to help up-and-coming fighters.
     
  4. Gamer007

    Gamer007 Brown Belt

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    Extending the Ali act to MMA is certainly the first step. As soon as fighters aren't tricked into having their contracts extended, more bidding wars will take place thus forcing the UFC to start treating fighters better. If every fighter can be gone within a years time that would be huge for the sport, management will think twice about insulting fighters.
     
  5. Sausage_Carius

    Sausage_Carius Blue Belt

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    There's no more big paydays. It died with the Entertainment Era. Welcome to the ESPN era where a fucking double champ has to beg Dana for money publicly.

    How fucking pathetic is this.

    The UFC is currently telling everyone and every manager to take a pay cut or pound sand while they shelve them. It's why so many fights were announced and why the UFC doesn't seem to have as much problem with fighters turning down fights atm.

    But this is also why the UFC can't get big draws to show up anymore and has problems with minor draws. They are used to mid upper pay and are all told to take a paycut. Even having a belt is no longer a route to a big payday. Not even when you hold two.

    The UFC is a joke.
     
  6. AP_RESURRECTION

    AP_RESURRECTION Gold Belt

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    Correct, better rules on contracts and maybe even fighter pay transparency would be the goal. You dont really want to kill the free market part of it, as better earning fighters should make way more than commodity fighters. However, the ability to squeeze fighters on the lower end should maybe be managed better.
     
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  7. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    For sure.

    I agree with you that just more transparency would be a huge step forward. If fighter salaries and bonuses (backroom or otherwise) were made public, and all contract terms and extensions were made public, then the UFC would face more immediate scrutiny for their actions.

    When stuff like this becomes public years later, the UFC don't really care too much. But more immediate public backlash (or even backlash from other fighters) would put a lot more pressure on them.
     
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  8. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Probably WME-IMG-Endeavor (and whatever new name they're calling themselves to dodge legal issues) need to pay off their investment in the UFC, which has had somewhat disappointing returns compared to expectations.

    Usually when acquired companies are struggling, the first step is to cut salaries and lay off as many people as possible. If that doesn't work, the company is usually sold. That seems to be what we're seeing right now, because we're seeing all of this information come out as a result of audits. This also means that private sale of the UFC seems to have failed, as private audits aren't made public like this. This kind of information comes from audits for an IPO.

    I guess they're hoping public investors will overpay for UFC shares to help offset their losses.
     
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  9. dipstickjimmy

    dipstickjimmy Black Belt

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    I think you are oversimplifying the concept. It doesn't have to be a union where all are paid the same. A Professional Fighters Association could collectively negotiate things like minimum number of fights ( for example 3 fights) without the right to cut at anytime. All fighters paid their "Show Money" even if their opponent pulls out so long as they make weight. Retirement benefits, Health Insurance, and so on. Level of pay per fight and PPV bonuses can be something negotiated as they are now with a Min salary per fight.
     
  10. mkess101

    mkess101 Not the hero he deserves, but the hero he needs

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    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but the days of big ppv stars holding huge sway over the UFC are over (at least assuming the new ESPN model is here to stay--where the org takes a bunch of $ up front in exchange for allowing a network to have exclusivity for ppv's and including a paywall that requires a ppv buyer to enroll in their service).

    It hasn't made ppv #'s moot, but nor are they the main driving force behind all the business decisions the UFC makes. The business model has changed.

    In addition, there is nothing to say that a fighter's union would have to operate in the same capacity that a team sports union does. Collective bargaining doesn't have such hard and fast rules that it can't morph into something that fits MMA better. I'm not saying I have the exact answers to what that is either, I'm sure it would take a lot of work and cooperation to figure it out. And, quite frankly, why would the UFC be interested in doing that? In short, they would have zero interest in pursuing that because it does nothing but take away leverage from them and give some to the fighters. Hardly something the UFC's ownership group would want.

    The Ali act I completely agree with. And given that it's a piece of legislation and not something that needs to be collectively bargained, the fighters don't need the approval of the UFC to get it done.
     
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  11. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    The thing is, unions in the United States have very specific rules. With 50% revenue sharing, a Union would eliminate private backroom bonuses. All fighter bonuses would be legally required to be publicly disclosed and counted towards the revenue sharing. If the UFC gave Jon Jones a $500k car, that would have to count towards revenue sharing.

    And the UFC would have the power (and in fact be legally obligated) to hold certain fighter pay in escrow. If they then decided to pay Conor McGregor $100 million and the UFC's revenue share went under 50% revenue sharing, all of the other fighters would end up paying for Conor's bonus pay.

    This may sound crazy, but this is actually how the system would work according to the law. As a result, the fighters would demand 1) minimum salaries for low and mid tier fighters, and 2) maximum salaries relative to the lowest paid fighters. If the UFC fighters actually formed a union, every fighter gets an equal "vote" in the union. There's no way the average fighter is going to vote to allow guys like Conor to make $50 million, while their minimum salaries are only 25k.
     
  12. Lint2

    Lint2 jmp dword ptr [ebp+8]

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    Tell you what: Fire USADA, good times will be back. BOOM!
     
  13. JabToucher

    JabToucher I don't put anyone on ignore!

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  14. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    I definitely agree that the new ESPN+ yearly PPV revenue sharing has reduced the "bargaining power" of most PPV main event fighters. The UFC can now more easily achieve their 70/30 PPV revenue split for the year. However, the big PPV stars that can sell 600k+ PPV buys still have huge pull. This is where the UFC make most of their PPV buy numbers to reach their yearly quota.

    Jon Jones has almost single-handedly outsold the rest of the UFC in terms of PPV buys since December. He sold 700k and 650k vs Gustaffsson and Smith, and probably sold at least 400-500k against Santos* (assuming the ESPN+ numbers were lower, as expected). None of the other events are selling very well. UFC 234 and 236 sold 175k and 100k, respectively. Yikes.

    So the PPV bonus pay for guys like Holloway, Usman, and Cejudo are going to be worse than before. But the biggest stars like Jones, McGregor, and presumably Khabib, will still have huge pull for PPV bonuses.

    Agreed -- but athletes can essentially impose a union on their employers. If they meet the legal requirements to form a union, then they are afforded certain protections until the employer (the UFC) agrees to collective bargaining terms. The UFC would be in serious violation of Federal laws if they attempted to intimidate fighters once the legal requirements to form a union have been met. They'd basically have no choice but to negotiate with the fighters -- and 50% revenue sharing is the de facto legal standard. They wouldn't really have a choice.
     
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  15. dredd57

    dredd57 Silver Belt

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    You take away the right to cut and guarantee a certain number of fights and I think you would see a much smaller pool of talent make it to the UFC as the selection process would become much tighter since they would have to commit 3 fights and not want to get stuck with an underperformer, or someone they deem "boring."
     
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  16. Dbreiden83080

    Dbreiden83080 Danger Zone

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    It's a tough game but honestly all the guys that perform well, and have long careers make plenty of money.

    You have stars like Jones, GSP, DC, Anderson made millions and millions in the UFC..

    Lower tier guy but still top flight fighters like Cowboy, Bisping, long careers and made plenty of money.. Lots of sponsors as well..

    For the low end fighters, that only make 10/10 for example that never bothered me. The stars all at one time were making that little money as well..

    As far as the UFC extending deals unfairly. Yeah okay but where else do you want to go? The UFC is the big leagues. That is where the star power and money is..

    The flip side is you have guaranteed deals in leagues like MLB and the NBA, with players that signed rich deals when they were pretty good.. Then fell off but you still owe them the rest of that rich deal.. UFC you want to earn the money. You gotta fight. And win.
     
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  17. Dbreiden83080

    Dbreiden83080 Danger Zone

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    I don't know about bidding wars with no competition. It is the Pro and Con of the UFC having all the top guys under one roof. In boxing you have a thousand promoters, so it makes a big fight coming together often problematic. But in the UFC they can just make the fight. But they have no competitors. It is like saying one day the NFL will have competition. They tried it with the USFL and the XFL.. Huge failures.
     
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  18. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    On one hand I feel that many UFC fighters are egregiously underpaid ... however, I must admit that I'm guilty of being happy the UFC can make any fight happen.

    As you said, putting fights on between top boxers can be challenging. Sometimes one doesn't want the fight, or they argue over money, or who gets top billing, or where the fight takes place ... but in the UFC, the organization picks the matchup and the location, and then each fighter independently bargains for their compensation.

    I must admit I do like that aspect of the UFC :S
     
  19. TheRassler

    TheRassler ---- L E G E N D A R Y --------- p4p GOAT poster

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    they need to unionize to get rid of that "independent contractors" title and become actual employees of the UFC.
     
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  20. Dbreiden83080

    Dbreiden83080 Danger Zone

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    Exactly well said. Floyd and Manny one of the issues was Bob Arum. Floyd hated his guts, and he promoted Manny.. And yes other factors are problems as well, as you noted..
     
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