Mixed martial artists are among the most highly trained athletes in a dangerous sport, and the UFC is a multi-billion dollar business with a broadcast partnership with ESPN. Meanwhile, fighters are left fighting for pennies on the dollar–they receive only 10-15% of revenues versus 50% with other sports–and they live by arbitrary rankings and are fired if they breathe the word ‘union.’ We should apply the Ali Act to MMA and enable fighters to organize and unionize. It will be good for the sport long-term by attracting higher-level athletes and giving the fighters more opportunities to train for more sustainable careers. If you’re going to be a major league sport, you need to act like it.
Problems to be Solved
- Mixed martial arts fighting doesn’t have a strong private sector organization to establish uniform ethical standards or business practices.
- MMA fighters often end up in exploitative contracts, resulting in dangerous situations.
- Any attempts to unionize or organize have been met with firing or retaliation (See Leslie Smith).
As President, I will…
- Work with Congress to extend the Ali Act to mixed martial arts organizations.
- Have the National Labor Relations Board treat MMA fighters as athletes and employees as opposed to independent contractors as consistent with the law.
- Empower MMA Fighters to organize into an association or union.
- Point out the hypocrisy of William Morris Endeavor, whose celebrity clients are now shareholders of the UFC (Conan O’Brien, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Affleck, Cam Newton) while it engages in union-busting activities to exploit MMA fighters; at the same time, those clients are the enormous beneficiaries of union membership in their respective industries.