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Professional Fighters Association - my thoughts

Discussion in 'UFC Discussion' started by johncola, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. johncola

    johncola Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    I was gonna post this in an existing Union thread, but it got big enough that I thought I'd make my own.

    I'm gonna go through the list of things that PFA "needs", giving my thoughts on each item. We all want good things for fighters. We want them to be taken care of as much as possible. But we don't want that to come at the cost of hurting the sport or business of MMA. I'll be going through the list with that philosophy in mind.

    Categories and explanations in italics are taken from the PFA website; my comments are in spoiler tags.

    Revenue split
    In the four major sports that have unions, the revenue split is approximately 50/50 whereas the UFC, which has no union, has an inequitable share of the pie (estimated to be 85:15).
    Just because other sports have a 50:50 split, doesn't necessarily mean the UFC should too. The business models are entirely different, as are the structures and schedules of sports themselves. Revenue figures of course have nothing to do with expenditure. For one company revenue could be 110% of expenditure. For another, it could be 300%.

    Now, I'm not saying that fighters should be paid based on profit instead of revenue. If that were the case, fighter pay would vary depending on how much the UFC spends on marketing, for example.

    What I am saying is that the owners need to make a big enough percentage of the revenue that the company can survive. It's theoretically possible that if there was a 50:50 split between the UFC and the fighters, the UFC wouldn't make enough money to survive, and thus the business and sport would die.

    The 50:50 ratio should only be used as a benchmark. If the PFA wants to close the gap on the revenue split, it should do it gradually and cautiously.

    Pension
    In the four major sports, if you play a certain number of years you become eligible to receive a pension (a regular payment after an athlete’s career) when you retire. In the UFC, no matter how long you’ve fought or how many fights you have on your record, you get nothing. Every working individual is entitled to plan for his or her retirement – you deserve this.
    This is the item I'm strongly in favor of. I don't know how financially feasible it'd be, so I'm just gonna talk about why I'm in favor of it.

    Going by the philosophy I laid out earlier; that I want to give the fighters as much as possible without hurting the sport; a pension would be a good thing. As you'll see if you read later into my post, I'm against fighter wage, as I think it'd be particularly harmful to the UFC where it isn't to the NFL, NBA, etc., due to the difference in structure and scheduling of the sports. But a pension wouldn't hurt the sport, as it wouldn't reduce fighter activity. In fact, it might help it...

    Fighters' pensions could go up based on the number of fights they take. This would encourage fighters to fight often when they're healthy and able, while they'd also be comfortable in knowing that they'll be taken care of when their careers are over.

    Dana White himself has spoken positively about the idea of pensions before, back in 2011:
    “If we can figure out something for a fighter pension, that’s something we’d love to do,”
    “We’re trying to prevent a situation where guys retire and they retire with nothing,”
    “So it sounds like a great idea, and it sounds like something to do, but it’s a lot harder than people think.”

    Minimum guarantees
    The four major sports in America all have minimum salaries, and so should the UFC. In some cases fighters are forced to pay for their own fights out of pocket. This is unacceptable.
    I'm against the idea of fighter wage, because I think it'd significantly damage the sport. Basically, I'm against the idea of fighters getting paid for not fighting, for 2 major reasons:

    First is that fighting isn't a game. Fighters can't safely "play MMA". This is unlike other sports, which can be played recreationally. I play soccer because it's fun, not because I get paid. Fighting isn't the same. Fighters generally don't want to fight if they don't have to. Fighters would avoid fighting if they had a wage to fall back on. This isn't the same for regular sports, as they're just playing a game they enjoy.

    Second is the schedule. Because of reason #1, fighters can't fight regularly. Every fight they have is an event itself. It has to be this way, for health reasons. There's no way around this. Depending on injuries, layoffs can vary from between a few weeks to over a year. Wages are for regular, consistent, reliable jobs. Regular sports are that, at least to a much greater extent than MMA is. Since every MMA fight is a one-off event for a fighter, they should be paid in such a manner. On a side note, this is the same reason I think the PPV model is going nowhere. The very biggest (financially) of those one-off events only happen once to a few times a year (e.g. Conor/Ronda/Mayweather/Pac/Brock/GSP fights), and thus work better as one-off PPV events than as part of some sort of TV package.

    Back on topic, the above two paragraphs explain why I don't think fighter wage is suitable for MMA, and thus why it'd hurt the sport. It'd encourage fighters to not fight. I want fighters to have security, but it shouldn't come at the expense of the service they provide us. There's other ways to get them security. A fighter wage isn't a must.

    Health care
    Unlike the four major sports, the UFC does not provide its fighters with comprehensive medical and dental insurance. Comprehensive medical and dental insurance, what was once thought to be a human right, the UFC withholds from its fighters. This is of vital importance — especially in a sport such as this one – where you risk your health every time you step in the Octagon to generate more revenue for the UFC.
    I don't have a strong opinion on this one. It's more of a general employment law issue. I'm not educated on the subject. I did find these stats insightful though. In 2013, 49.9% of prviate companies in offered health insurance to their employees. That might be common knowledge to Americans, but I didn't know it.

    As of 2011, the UFC has had a health insurance plan in place. It pays for fighters' injuries suffered in fights and training. That's obviously different to a regular healthcare plan, but it shows that the healthcare plan is about regular health problems, not fighter-specific ones, which are already covered. Whether or not the UFC's health insurance plan could be improved upon is a separate issue.

    Grievance procedure
    Currently if there is a dispute with a fighter, the UFC unilaterally determines the fate of said fighter. This current system can and has cost fighters millions after one oversimplified decision by the UFC.
    I need more information. What sort of disputes? This might be another employment law issue that I'm not gonna have a strong opinion on.

    If it's anything to do with matchmaking, I don't like it. Fighters themselves shouldn't have the power to pick and choose their opponents, as that'd obviously hurt the sport. One of the good things about the UFC's setup is that they're generally able to make whatever matchups they want, and thus they can put on competitive fights rather than tune-up fights, and the best can fight the best. Fighters should obviously always have the ability to turn down fights, and request certain fights, but the lion's share of the decision-making should be done by some sort of authority, whether that's the UFC or a different governing body.

    Disability benefits
    In the four major sports, when an athlete gets put on the disability or injured reserved list, he still gets paid. This is not the case for UFC fighters – they receive no compensation as they recover in order to fight another day for an organization that works against them.
    This is a complicated issue, and it's connected to the fighter wage issues I presented above. In regular sports, players want to play. They don't want to sit out injured. But if a fighter were to get paid whether they fought or not, then they'd often choose not to fight. If the UFC were to compensate fighters for pulling out of fights, any fee would have to be minimal, or else we'd start seeing lots and lots of fights falling out all the time. The next section will be about paying fighters for training expenses, which is linked to this issue.

    Also, remember that fighters' medical costs for injuries suffered in training are paid for by the existing UFC health plan mentioned earlier.

    Physical therapy and training
    In other sports, the cost of training is covered; but in the UFC, the fighter pays for 100% of his or her camp. Sometimes the cost of a fighter’s camp is more than the actual earnings from the fight.
    Currently, fighters pay for their training expenses with their upcoming fight purse in mind. Training expenses just aren't officially separated from regular fighter pay. If they were, it'd be a bit like hotels charging customers for rooms, and then adding "resort fees" on top of that. In a way, this idea is just a way of fighters asking for more money, just packaged differently. I don't have a strong opinion on that subject.

    As I'm against the idea of fighter wage, I'm against the idea of fighters being paid for training expenses before they actually fight. If they were to be paid specifically for training expenses, it should be attached to the fight purse. For example, after fighting, fighters would get Appearance fee + Win bonus + Training expenses + Sponsorship + Whatever else.

    Like I said earlier, this issue is linked to the idea of disability benefits. It's a thing that'd pay fighters for not fighting. Paying fighters for training expenses could actually serve as an alternative to paying them disability benefits. For example, if a fighter had to pull out of a bout injured, they'd still receive a fee for their training expenses.

    Basically, both disability benefits and training benefits are things that'd cause fighters to pull out of fights, thus hurting the sport. It'd allow fighters to get paid for not fighting. Of these two ideas, training benefits are the lesser of two evils, as they'd at least be paid for actual work put in.

    Agent supervising
    As it stands now in the UFC, anyone can be an agent and there is no certification or educational process for agents to go through. Just like in the other major sports, there needs to be a governing body of these agents to ensure that fighter interests are protected.
    I have no knowledge or thoughts on the subject.

    Share in licensing, merchandising, and media revenue
    Currently, the UFC has full control of how much–if any–revenue from licensing, merchandising, and media goes to the fighters. In other major sports, the revenue is usually shared amongst the talent (the backbone of the industry) and their respective organizations.
    My thoughts on this are similar to my thoughts on training expenses. I don't want fighters to get a wage. Aside from that, this is again just a way to repackage fighter pay, segregating different fees they receive. And as I said above, I don't have much of an opinion on that subject.

    Federal law protection against retaliation from management
    Once the Association is certified by the National Labor Relations Board, it is unlawful for the employer (the UFC) to retaliate or discriminate against any fighter for his or her participation in the Association. In addition, federal law guarantees that in any meeting with management where discipline is possible, the fighter is entitled to a representative from the Association.
    Isn't this just standard union stuff? I don't know enough about unions in general.

    Uniform fight contracts
    There's no description given for this need. But I guess it's about fighters having a say about uniforms/sponsorship? Yet again, I don't have a strong opinion on the subject. In a way, getting paid sponsorship money is just repackaged pay. I do think that if the fighters are getting paid to wear certain items, then it makes theoretical sense that they'd have a say in the process of choosing what they wear. The idea behind sponsorship is supposed to be about representing brands or ideas that one agrees with. That's obviously not the case if everyone just has to wear Reebok regardless of their opinions and preferences.

    Life insurance
    This goes hand in hand with fighter pensions, doesn't it? If that's the case, then I approve.

    Ranking system
    A description of this need would have been helpful. I don't fully know what the PFA wants.

    My opinion about rankings in general are that they're only ancillary. Certain fans and even fighters treat ranking as the MMA equivalent of a league table. I don't think that makes sense, for reasons similar to those I listed in the "Minimum guarantees" section of my post. MMA is inherently different to other sports. It isn't and can't be the same. It can't have the same schedule. Every fight is a one-off event. Thus, league tables don't really work. Fans should stop trying to fit a square peg into a a round hole by trying to make MMA fit into a regular sport structure. Rankings are just an ancillary tool for information and promotion. It's a side feature, and not the be-all and end-all. To go along with this, a merit system wouldn't work in MMA, for example, tournament structures, clearly-defined #1 contendership fights, hierarchies. The scheduling is too unpredictable for any of that to work properly. We just need to embrace the idea that MMA is naturally spectacle-driven, rather than trying to fight it.

    Drug policy
    I guess this is about wanting a say on drug testing. For example, fighters would get a choice in who tests them, what they get tested for, when they get tested, how they get tested, and also the punishments for failing tests. This is yet another subject I don't have a strong opinion on, but on the surface, I don't see any problems in giving fighters a say on this issue.


    They are my thoughts. I don't know much about unions but I have some unique opinons about the sport and wanted to share my view on some of these specific subjects. I'm open to the possibility that I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about so feel free to tell me how I'm wrong.

    TLDR: I want fighters to get paid as much as possible and receive as many benefits as possible, without hurting the sport. I like the idea of a fighter pension. I don't like the idea of a fighter wage. My belief that the structure of MMA is inherently different to regular sports, forms a large a part of my reasoning.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  2. Sonny Qc

    Sonny Qc Gold Belt

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    You did a great job.
    You make valid point.

    But you can't compare UFC with the 4 major sports.
    It's not a team sports.
    You don't have 30 different owner with 30 different market.

    apple and oranges.


    Inb4
    "didn't read lol"
     
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  3. Sonny Qc

    Sonny Qc Gold Belt

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    The fertita's sure sold that thing at the right time.
     
  4. P0rkchop

    P0rkchop Black Belt

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    A revenue split of 50/50 does not make sense to me. People need to remember that revenue does not mean profit.

    If the PPV company takes 50% of PPV revs and the fighters take 50% of all revs, throw in overhead and production costs, advertising, expansion, etc and that doesn't leave much left if anything at all

    Any how this is just my opinion
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
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  5. Kinger85

    Kinger85 Gold Belt

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    I am tempering my expectations. So many hurdles this has to go through yet. I am not going to get excited about this for a long time to come.
     
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  6. P0rkchop

    P0rkchop Black Belt

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    We also had no idea about the money the UFC is making but what we learned from the sale, it was less than we expected.
     
  7. TheIrishPsycho

    TheIrishPsycho Whiskey Belt

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    Thanks,

    I was waiting since the announcement for your thoughts, random Sherbro.

    Finally, I can sleep at night.
     
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  8. johncola

    johncola Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    Thanks,

    I was waiting since I made the thread for your thoughts, random Sherbro.

    Finally, I can sleep at night.


    Why don't you just go into every single thread posting that?
     
  9. TheIrishPsycho

    TheIrishPsycho Whiskey Belt

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    That's more or less what I do.
     
  10. BuckyBarberFanClub

    BuckyBarberFanClub Gold Belt

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    In the four major AMERICAN sports that have unions

    Can assure you in many other sports with unions, soccer in the uk (PFA) its not the case.

    There is also one huge flaw in the 50/50 revenue share argument whenever people raise it. All of the sports they compare with, NFL, Baseball, Basketball, Ice Hockey etc all have one thing in common. THEY ALL OWN (OR LEASE) THEIR OWN VENUES.

    This has a massive impact on income in that UFC have to pay out for every venue, a well as paying out a cut of ticket sales, but they also have the logistic expenses of moving from city to city. Add to that for each event they do not have a guaranteed attendance, sales are incredibly volatile, whereas with say a soccer team, they know at the start of the season they will sell 20,000 season tickets, you dont get that in the UFC.

    Thats not to say the fighters couldnt be paid more, they certainly could, but its not a matter of "its 50/50 in baseball, nfl, nba so it should be in the UFC" when they are two completely different structures of company.


    Only the American athletes would need healthcare, rest of the world ha their own healthcare services. BUt if you are going to give the American athletes free healthcare then you need to compensate the other athletes from outside the US with some other equivalent reward/bonus
     
  11. NicholasJBasile

    NicholasJBasile Hoping to fight some day...

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    Very good synopsis TS, much more realistic than most people's expectations (including my own, admittedly). I'm just curious though -- you referred to one of the contracts as "uniform" fight contracts. I've been told that the UFC refrains from calling them "uniforms" as to prevent using rhetoric that would be used as if fighters were UFC employees and not "independent contractors". How do you feel about UFC fighters being considered independent contractors? I'm not knowledgeable on the subject and would like to read your (or anyone else's) opinion on the matter. Thank you TS, great thread.
     
  12. johncola

    johncola Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    Thanks, I'm glad my post wasn't TLDR for everyone.

    "Uniform fight contracts" is the term that the Professional Fighters Association uses at this site. My post basically goes through that web page responding to each of the needs that the Association lists, uniform contracts included. Everything I've said is in direct response to that website, so that's why I use that term.

    I've heard the same thing as you regarding the UFC's wording of "uniforms" aka "fight kits". I know as much (or less than) you about the difference between independent contractors and employees.
     
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  13. HIMBOB

    HIMBOB Steel Belt

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    If you cant work for other companies you are an employee imo.

    Dont agree on a revenue split arrangement copied from another sport.


    But good list and i agree with most of it.
     
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  14. NicholasJBasile

    NicholasJBasile Hoping to fight some day...

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    Okay, thank you. I do like how the website uses the term uniforms as it is more transparent than calling them "fight kits". Things are seemingly about to get interesting in the world of MMA...
     
  15. AliBagaooteenov

    AliBagaooteenov Imagine a Prime Yoel Romero Poundin yo Old Lady Banned

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    Hes right, compare it to Boxing
     
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  16. ChopToTheButt

    ChopToTheButt Blue Belt

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    Well thought out and said. Thanks for posting TS. Enjoyed the read and thoughts.

    I liked your thoughts on why it can't be a 50/50 split and actually agree with you reasoning now that I've seen something reasonable put out there. Interesting to see what they come up with for a fair split (if they indeed end up having to). They've got their work cut out for them on that one. Like any labor dispute, I assume that'd be one of, if not THE, major sticking points.
     
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  17. johncola

    johncola Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    bumping this because I don't think many people saw it, and Jeff Borris is on MMA Hour later
     
  18. JohnyBrabo

    JohnyBrabo Mackin & Stackin Belt Platinum Member

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    I agree, but 85/15 makes even less sense lol. These guys are taking it dry.
     
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  19. P0rkchop

    P0rkchop Black Belt

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    Ya. The reason you can't do profit is because how dishonest owners have traditonally been. Hopefully they can find the proper medium
     
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  20. BobsyaUncle

    BobsyaUncle Brown Belt

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    Definitely the most well thought out post I've seen on this topic. Well done.
     

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