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Vitor Belfort discusses the need for a fighters' union and what should change in the sport

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UFC 187 photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Several MMA fighters’ associations were created in the United States recently, and longtime veteran Vitor Belfort feels that a fighter’s union could be the answer for the athletes' problems.

Associations like MMAFA, MMAAA and PFA have different ideas and focuses, and Belfort, while admitting he doesn't know what any of them is specifically fighting for, points to a union as the solution.

"I’m a smart guy, and the smartest thing in the world is to not side (with something) if you don’t know who's the leader and what are his motivations,” Belfort, who is pointed constantly by fellow Brazilian fighters as one of the best men to lead an entity, told MMA Fighting of the existing associations.

"I’m glad that fighters that are part of the history of the sport see me this way, but it’s important for fighters to realize that it’s time to have a fighters’ union. There’s unions for everything, there’s an union even for prostitutes, and we won’t have one for fighters? It’s time for the athlete to have his union.”

Belfort says that MMAFA, MMAAA and PFA haven't reached out to him to share their ideas or invite to be part of the entity, and says that the main goal should be to fight for fighters' rights, not to start a war against the UFC.

"For me to be part of something, I have to be in the leadership. If you just want to use my image, I won’t let anyone do that,” Belfort said. "I don’t think we have to go against the UFC. We have to be together and work together. You have to remember that the same way we want to fight for our rights, we have to understand their rights, too. You need to know that."

"And it’s not only the UFC,” he continued. "There are several promotions. People talk about the UFC, but it’s wonderful for the sport. We are grateful, but there should be a law that benefits every combat sports athlete."

With the UFC recently sold to WME-IMG for more than four billion dollars, “The Phenom” suggests a few changes in the organization under the new ownership.

"I think there should be a health insurance for fighters, they should allow sponsors like the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) does, and they should create a league of legends, to bring back fighters fans love. Those would be my three changes,” Belfort said. "And get rid of elbows so there would be no blood. Big companies want to be associated with fights if there are no bloody fights."