In what some are calling a historical move for mixed martial arts, today the Professional Fighters Association has announced their formation. You can read a release from the organization on their website. This is a topic that has been discussed at length for years, but this is the first concrete move toward such an organization in fighting sports. The organization seeks to duplicate the efforts of players unions in other sports such as the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball.
The organization has specifically targeted UFC as the athletes they intend to work with. UFC has not commented on the formation of the group as of this writing. Their stance for a long time has been that, much like major professional wrestling such as WWE, their fighters are independent contractors and not employees of the organization.
Initially, the staff of PFA includes veteran sports agent Jeff Borris, economist Andrew Zimbalist, labor lawyer Lucas Middlebrook, and administrator Callie Mendenhall.
The release stated:
“The Professional Fighters Association (PFA) has been established today to represent the collective interests of the fighters employed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It is the goal of the PFA to organize these hard-working athletes so that they may collectively bargain their terms and conditions of employment pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The PFA will not only be a union of fighters, but it will be governed solely by fighters. It is the fighters who will control their own futures.”
“The scales have been tipped in favor of the UFC for too long. It is time for the fighters – the one’s (sic) responsible for the UFC’s success – to receive their equal share.”
Other pro sports players union leaders, such as DeMaurice Smith (NFL), Donald Fehr (NHL), Tony Clark (MLB), and others have pledged support to the new union, and provided quotes to the organization for use in the news release.
One of the apparent initial topics the PFA intends to address is revenue distribution. They showed graphics on the website illustrating that UFC retains 85% of their revenue with only 15% going to fighters. This is a vast difference from the 50-50 splits of the NHL and NBA, 43% player share in MLB, and 48% player share in the NFL.
Obviously there will be much more to this story as it continues to unfold.
Information from MMAJunkie.com was used in this piece.