clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Donald Cerrone says he’d gladly be face of a fighters union: ‘I’m not afraid’

New, comments

LOS ANGELES — Donald Cerrone believes that UFC fighters need a union and he doesn't mind being the one to speak out on it publicly.

"Cowboy" has been adamant about fighters needing some kind of representation for months, but now he has taken it up a notch. Cerrone said at a UFC 205 media lunch in Downtown LA on Wednesday that he'll gladly be the vocal champion of the cause.

"I'll gladly put my head on the chopping block and say I'll be the front face of this mother f*cker," said Cerrone, who fights Kelvin Gastelum on the huge card Nov. 12 in New York. ... "I've paid my way, man. I've earned the right to sit here and speak. I think there's a lot of people that are scared and not willing to step up and do it. It's gonna take a couple of us and it needs to be done."

Talk of some kind of an organization for fighters — whether it be a union or association — increased after the UFC was sold to Hollywood powerhouse WME-IMG for more than $4 billion in July. The number was an eye-opener for a lot of people. Reports have stated that fighters only get around 15 percent of the UFC's revenue. Cerrone believes now is the time for change.

"I'll be the guy," Cerrone said. "I'm not scared. All I'm saying is we need a fighters union 1,000, million percent, especially with the new owners coming in and I think now is the time."

"Cowboy" said people from different organizations trying to unionize fighters have reached out to him and he has engaged them in a dialogue. He said he has calls scheduled for after his fight against Gastelum.

"I want to know their point of view and how they want to attack the whole situation," Cerrone said. "Because I don't know. There's a lot of things that I don't know."

Pay increases are not the only thing important to Cerrone. He would like fighters to have things like full-scale health coverage and a retirement fund. These are things that unions in other sports have fought for from leagues and "Cowboy" doesn't think the UFC should be any different. There also isn't a true grievance process for UFC athletes if they get fined or suspended by the promotion.

"We have no direction," Cerrone said. "We have no one to stand up for the fighters' rights. If something bad were to happen, no one backs him and it's just him alone and everything gets washed out. We need people to stand up and fight for it."

Cerrone, one of the longest tenured and most active UFC/WEC fighters in the organization, said he has a friend who drives a bulldozer in Las Vegas. If not for the union, "Cowboy" said, the guy would be making "like nine bucks an hour."

The Professional Fighters Association (PFA), led by baseball superagent Jeff Borris and lawyer Lucas Middlebrook, is the most prominent group attempting to organize fighters. The PFA is looking to name a nine-member executive board of fighters.

It is believed that more public faces for the movement are needed. Cerrone agrees.

"I'm not afraid," Cerrone said. "I'm not scared to put my neck on the line."