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Corporate Personhood of the UFC and its Treatment of Fighters.

Recent posts in the MMA media have focused on the conflict between GSP and the UFC. This is a debate with nearly endless questions. Some of these questions even go so far as to question GSP's sanity. What's lost in recent discussion is how many other fighters have left the UFC on bad terms. A corporation is a legal entity that theoretically and legally has the same rights as individuals. Corporate Personhood is a legal concept that defines the rights of corporations as human beings. The Supreme Court even recently ruled that money is free-speech and corporations should, therefore, be legally permitted to contribute as much money to political campaigns as they see fit. Perhaps the UFC just needs to purchase a Senator or other politician from New York to get MMA sanctioned there.

There are two theoretical ways to break down the character of the UFC. The first focuses on individuals such as the fighters, Dana White, the Fertitta brothers and Joe Silva to name a few. The second focuses on how the UFC, as a corporation, treats its employees. Analyzing the UFC as a legal institution focuses on things like contracts, scrum and branding among other factors. For purposes of brevity, I will outline the issues former fighters have had with the UFC.

1) Georges St. Pierre. Georges' conflict with the UFC mainly centers around PEDs. I have yet to read a post where he expressed disappointment with financial compensation. There are other factors but this seems to be the most pressing.

2) Randy Couture. Couture's standoff with the UFC, while Heavyweight Champion, was well documented in the MMA media. This stemmed from a contractual dispute over money. Also, Randy Couture was campaigning the UFC to bring in Fedor Emelianenko.

3) Fedor Emelianenko's problems with the UFC were, like Couture's, primarily centered around money. In the UFC's defense, Vadim, Emelianenko's manager, was asking for a contract well into the millions. The Strikeforce contract Fedor eventually signed was in the millions. Fedor also wanted to compete in Sambo while in the UFC.

4) Ken Shamrock. Shamrock once tried to sue the UFC. Shamrock signed a two fight contract just prior to his last fight with Tito. Shamrock "retired" but maintained that the UFC still owed him money because of the second fight on the contract.

5) Frank Shamrock. Frank Shamrock claims that he retired from MMA because the UFC simply wasn't paying him enough. Nevermind that there was still MMA in Japan and Frank eventually signed with Strikeforce.

6) Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Rampage also was not happy with the money Zuffa was paying out. He also was in conflict with Zuffa's position towards sponsorship.

The recurring theme, minus GSP, in all these fighters' disputes is money. Is this why so many fighters have had fallout with the UFC? Because it's a heartless, monster corporation that underpays its fighters? Money most likely is the primary reason. Chuck Liddel was able to retire and go to work for the UFC. Perhaps the UFC should offer more retiring fighters positions in the company. Sure, UFC fighters are not the highest paid athletes. Then again, the UFC doesn't have as many people tuning in as does the NFL. Perhaps we, as fight fans, should step up and try to bring new viewers to the sport. More money coming into the sport may help alleviate the tension between the UFC and some of its employees. I've tried to apply the concept of the corporation as a legal institution with corporate personhood. I'm sure that someone out there has more insight to bring to the issue. Feel free to comment. Corrections and disagreement are welcome.

Sources:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1527402-randy-couture-and-5-former-ufc-stars-on-the-outs-with-dana-white

http://www.mmamania.com/2010/4/9/1412781/court-orders-ken-shamrock-to-pay

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