White responds to question about fighter union
November 24, 2012
As part of the ESPN duties to promote UFC 54, Dana White took part in a chat with fans. The issue of fighter unions came up again and White offered up his opinion.
When asked about whether the UFC will ever see a fighter’s union, White responded:
I doubt it. The thing about fighting is, fighting is not a team sport, it’s an individual sport. It’s going to be tough to see a day with Silva or GSP is giving up big chunks of their money to guys who won’t make two fights in the UFC. Different sports. But if it happens, it happens. I have to negotiate with somebody on the fight contracts.
In a web chat with The Seattle Times in March 2011, White said that it would be up to the fighters whether they wanted a union. In the past, White has also cited union problems in the NBA and NFL as reasons why unions may not be the answer to labor peace. This time around, we see White explaining the issue a little more.
White’s most recent explanation alludes to the fact that if a union is set up, fighters at the top of the pay scale such as Anderson Silva and GSP, would have to give up a portion of their pay to take care of fighters at the bottom of the pay scale. Without true incentive except to help fighters starting out, it would be hard to see fighters at the top of the scale concede a portion of their fight purse. Another good point made by White is that its an individual sport. Unlike the NFL or NBA, fighters fight as individuals and are not on teams. Despite being aligned with a gym or fight team, fighter pay is based on their individual performance in the Octagon.
Despite being independent contractors, the UFC has done enough to make the issue of a fighter union a non-existent issue. One of the most important is fighter insurance which has taken care of fighters under contract. Also, incentive programs offering monetary rewards such as social media bonuses and fight night bonuses. Yet, White seemed indifferent about the possibility of a union which is a little surprising. With the recent issues with fighters not taking fights, one can only imagine the issues that he might encounter with a union: pay, fight schedules and general grievances just to name a few.