The sale of the UFC to private investors WME-IMG for $4 billion is the biggest story in MMA this year. Not just for the fact that Zuffa, the company who stewarded the UFC from near bankruptcy to global brand icon, purchased the company for $2 million only 15 years ago and generated a 200000% return on investment, but also because of the story lines created as a result of the sale. The biggest of these is undoubtedly the renewed push by fighters and outside actors to unionize in a significant manner.
On Thursday, one of the fighters who has been actively involved in the fighters association agenda previously, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le, spoke with FightHub TV about the sale of the UFC and the reinvigorated talks surrounding a fighters organization.
"There's two unions. One's been around for ten years. I'm with that one. MMAFA. Behind Rob Maysey. I'm behind MMAFA. The other union, they just came on. Why did they just pop up? They haven't been doing ten years worth of work. MMAFA is for the fighters and for the Ali Act. The other union, they don't care for the Ali Act because eventually they want to have certain control on fighters. That's what I believe.
"They haven't been around. They haven't been pushing the Ali Act. All I know is, you're only as good as what your actions were yesterday, or your previous actions. MMAFA is always cranking and I'm part of it."
The MMA Fighter Association is headed by Phoenix based attorney Rob Maysey and has been calling for collective bargaining with fighters for nearly a decade. Primarily, they seek to extend the Ali Act to cover MMA. The MMAFA is currently embroiled in an antitrust lawsuit with the UFC and has the support of a limited, but well known group of fighters including Jon Fitch and Randy Couture.
The new group, the Professional Fighters Association, is headed up by well known sports agent Jeff Boris and labor attorney Lucas Middlebrook and has received the support of the 5 major sports league's players associations. Their goal is to create a full tilt union, but doing so would require a legal challenge to the "independent contractor" status currently held by fighters.
The relationship between the groups is not the most amicable, as evidenced by Le's remarks. The MMAFA seems put off by the sudden emergence of a new player seemingly spurned on by the fiscal opportunity presented by the now $4 billion dollar company. PFA notes that the MMAFA has yet to accomplish anything substantive since 2009. But despite the contentiousness, the two groups have similar goals: to use collective bargaining to advance fighter contracts and even the playing field, something Le says is inevitable.
"It's just a matter of time. It has to happen. You can't have promoters take advantage of fighters. That's just wrong. The UFC sold for $4 billion - 4.2 sorry - and Dana White's made more than all the fighters in UFC history combined. That's just wrong. Good for him but it's not right."
White made roughly $360 million from his 9 percent stake in the company. He also signed a deal with new ownership paying him 9 percent of net profits per year for the next five years to continue on as UFC President, a fact which rubs Le the wrong way considering his own compensation from the company.
"Everything I do I work hard. Whether I get paid like shit which - Ultimate Fighter China, I wasn't a coach. I was the Dana White over there. I held it down. You see Dana White talking on ESPN News that if it wasn't for me that show would have went under, belly up. I got paid like shit."
But it's not just the lucrative earnings of White and the Fertitta brothers that bothers Le; it's the fact that he feels he played a role in the company's ultimate price tag.
"If you think about it, with my effort and what the UFC China crew did out in China, we created enough awareness to have a Chinese investor bid for $4 billion and that's why William Morris came on and outbid them for 4.2 [billion]. If I was never in the picture, if all these different shows would have never happened, what kind of outcome would have happened for Dana and for the Fertitta brothers. They wouldn't have had this outcome."
Le left the UFC on poor terms. After failing a post-fight drug test for elevated levels of HGH after his bout with Michael Bisping, the UFC suspended Le for 12 months. Then, after discovering several flaws the the testing process used at the time, the UFC rescinded Le's suspension. However, after the incident Le no longer wanted to continue fighting for the UFC so he asked for a release from his contract. He was denied. Le then joined the antitrust suit filed against the UFC and ultimately retired from all combat sports in January of 2015.
S**t or get off the pot. Georges St-Pierre says that "all the stars are aligned" for his UFC return in Toronto.
Perfection. Nate Diaz says he's waiting for the UFC brass to show up at his house to "see how obsessed I am" after UFC 202.
Dagum millenials. Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson agree that the UFC needs to "stop coddling" Jon Jones.
Commitment. Despite dropping to featherweight, Anthony Pettis says he is "definitely not done" at lightweight.
Risk vs reward. Demian Maia says it would be "too risky" to sit out and wait for a title shot like Tyron Woodley.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
Zangief. The Russian MMA Union is regulating street fights per Karim Zidan of Bloody Elbow.
Here is a promotional clip of a documentary that I think looks interesting. And given the recent Jon Jones things, his quotes here are worth a listen. (Below is the promotional blurb by the guys who gave me the clip)
"Directed and penned by Vlad Yudin (GENERATION IRON, JEREMY SCOTT: THE PEOPLE'S DESIGNER), helmed by Yudin and Edwin Mejia of The Vladar Company with Oscar® winner Jim Czarnecki (FAHRENIHET 9/11, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE), THE HURT BUSINESS is a documentary about the evolution of MMA through the daily lives of fighters like Rousey, Holly Holm, Jon "Bones" Jones, Rashad "Suga" Evans and more. The film opens at the end of September."
I know, I know. Another Cowherd segment. But this one has real purpose in that Dana says Ronda's return will be the biggest PPV in UFC history. Do you think he's right?
Wonderboy about to get his acting career on.
Fun video of Krzysztof Soszynski dodging punches from regular people.
Conor's last 202 video.
Randy with Yves Edwards
Picking @nickdiaz209 to jump in Vegas is like winning the evil lottery.— Cesar Gracie (@CesarGracieBJJ) August 25, 2016
Watching someone who isn't particularly good at trash talk trying to talk trash about a guy who colded him in 13 seconds is really painful.
Um, dois, três, vai correr mais uma vez...— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) August 26, 2016
One, two, three, again he's going To flee...
Wow. Just wow.
Playing free agency is a very dangerous game to play. The only people who can suffer is the fighters I hope everyone knows what they doing— Ali Abdelaziz (@AliAbdelaziz00) August 25, 2016
Incoming Twitter exchange.
@VenezuelanVixen This isn't up to me, sweetheart.— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) August 24, 2016
@Amanda_Leoa make it happen "champ"!— Julianna Peña (@VenezuelanVixen) August 24, 2016
What if every champion just refused to fight the trash talkers in the division?
@VenezuelanVixen Everyone knows I'm the champ. Proving yourself as the "challenger" is all on you.— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) August 24, 2016
So I guess you can get pink eye from eating booty with your eyes open— Derrick Lewis (@Thebeast_ufc) August 25, 2016
8 fight contract is basically a 1 year contract extension for Cowboy.
Guess I'll be fighting again soon pic.twitter.com/V0TBA1lrTV— Cowboy Cerrone (@Cowboycerrone) August 25, 2016
Kid got hops.
My journey is my own and I'm excited to add to it. I was a TUF finalist at 22, by my 25th birthday I was a veteran of a top organization. I have experienced extreme highs and lows only to grow into the Martial Artist I am today. At 28 years old I'm signing with World Series of Fighting to continue my journey #WSOF #MMA #TeamNijem
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.