Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang says UFC is exploiting its fighters
Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate, said he had been an MMA fan "for years, maybe even decades". He said he had his bachelor party at an Ultimate Fighter Finale in Las Vegas.
But Yang said that the UFC are exploiting their fighters and that they should earn three or four times what they currently earn.
Yang, who publicly supported Jorge Masvidal on Twitter and said fighters should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, said the UFC had also made it difficult for fighters to organize and form a union.
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UFC President Dana White did not return any messages on Monday to respond to Yang's comments.
"The best estimates assume that [fighters] will generate 15 to 16 percent of the sport's revenue, which is three to four times lower than what athletes get in other major sports," Yang told Yahoo Sports. “Most major sports have athletes who reach about 50 percent. It is objectively the case that mixed martial arts fighters are exploited to generate much, much less than they are worth and much, much less than they generate.
"You should get three to four times more depending on what you're generating, and I think it's impossible to argue with." I would enjoy it if [parent company] WME and UFC disclose everything fighters do, because you will find that this is only a very small part of what athletes in major sports get paid for. "
Both Jon Jones and Masvidal are trying to renegotiate their deals after just one fight with new eight-fight deals they signed recently. Yang said that such long deals routinely work against the fighters by restricting their bargaining power.
Andrew Yang says the UFC is exploiting its fighters. (Photo by Scott Eisen / Getty Images)
The majority of the big fighters compete against each other twice a year, so an eight-fight contract effectively keeps the fighter tied to the UFC for four years. Yang said a lot of changes during that time. The fighters would benefit from shorter deals, he said.
He made a comparison with the NBA when there was no player association.
"Imagine the NBA had no union," he said. "And imagine if you are an NBA player and you were told," Hey, to play this season we will sign you, but we will actually sign you for several seasons. And there is no other league that pays you anywhere near what we will pay you. It is not a real negotiation.
“To fight once, you have to sign these all-around contracts. There is no real bargaining power on the part of the fighter. The fighters, many of them have to fight or starve in many cases. So this is not a real negotiation. "
Yang, a populist whose platform campaigned for the government to pay Americans $ 1,000 a month for what is known as "universal basic income" during his candidacy for the Democratic President's nomination, also accused the UFC of making it difficult for the fighters to organize.
He said that not only the UFC wants to benefit from the popularity of a fighter. He insisted that he wasn't against promoters who made a profit, but said he refused to allow fighters to be exploited by getting a fraction of the total revenue.
Several attempts to form militant unions failed, and Yang was asked whether it was not the fault of the militants that there was no common ground and that they could come together.
"It would be a more legitimate argument if the UFC did not systematically suppress organizational attempts," said Yang. "I am sure the fighters have noticed that anyone who breathes the words union or association will either be fired or released. You can tell. Leslie Smith was fired when her opponent missed the weight. They notice that Kajan Johnson is sent to Daegestan or wherever the hell [actually Moscow] to fight whoever and then released as soon as possible.
“If you're a fighter, look up and say, 'Well, if I stink about it, I'm going to be fired too, and can say goodbye to a career I've had for years. "It's one reason why the only thing you see are star warriors who assert themselves at the top because the bottom fighters have no clout, no bargaining power, and no organizational skills."
Smith was paid for her show on April 20, 2018 and won money. She was not re-committed after her opponent Aspen Ladd missed the weight. Smith, who was trying to form a fighter association, was 3-1 in her last four UFC fights when she was released.
Johnson, an outspoken union attorney, was cut after consecutive casualties. Before these defeats, he had won four times in a row in the UFC.
Yang said that all the news is not bad for fighters who want to improve their situation. He said they are finally leveraging what has to do with the UFC TV deal with ESPN.
"Fighters look up and realize:" Wait a minute: I'm underpaid. We are all underpaid, "said Yang." I think you see this for a moment because I think the UFC has a sense of despair. There is certainly a sense of desperation on the part of the UFC to meet its broadcasting obligations under the ESPN deal.
"This deal is worth hundreds of millions a year and you see that the UFC is desperately trying to fight these fights. There is no live goal. You are doing it to fulfill your contract. If you enter the numbers and hundreds of millions of dollars received per year for the fulfillment of the broadcast contract, you’re watching millions of dollars for every event, so if you’re a fighter fighting in this empty arena or on an island with no audience, the fighters’s leverage is unprecedented. ”
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