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Six Likely Candidates for MMA Fighter Union President

“My thoughts concerning the state of Wisconsin repealing the collective bargaining rights of public employees? I’m glad you asked…”

Several recent, seemingly unrelated news stories in the MMA world have shared a common theme- unions. It’s the lobbying efforts of one union, Dana White insists, to blame for the UFC’s failure to gain a foothold in New York. And some pessimists credit a fear of unionized fighters–more than simple altruism–for Zuffa’s decision to provide accident insurance for its fighters. With all of the talk about a potential MMA Fighters Union, we took a moment to ponder who’s likely to throw their hat in the ring for union president…

Frank Shamrock: If you want to know what role “The Legend” has played in the history of our sport, just ask him. Never one to shy away from an opportunity to self-promote, Shamrock has been fighting for his relevancy in the sport ever since he departed from the UFC. His verbal battles with Dana are legendary, even prompting him to start a pseudo non-profit organization to call him out- that’s a devotion to hatred I can only hope to know. As a self-proclaimed champion of the downtrodden and sworn enemy of the Zuffa regime, Shamrock’s role as kingpin in a fighter union would finally balance the scales of power in his rivalry and allow him to resume his long-abandoned place at the top of the fighter chain.

Big John McCarthy: Fighter safety was little more than an oxymoron when Big John started officiating. Since those early days he’s played a leading role in looking out for the folks that put it all on the line. Outside of the cage, he lobbied to make sure that the Unified Rules were fair to fighters and fans alike. It’s no secret that Dana has had a grudge against him, which coincided perfectly with his inability to get re-licensed in Nevada.  Big John has found several ways to earn an income in the sport without donning latex gloves, including running his own gym and serving as a analyst on The Fight Network, so maybe an opportunity to protect fighters in a new capacity would be of interest to him as well.

Chael Sonnen: What is there to explain, really? The guy has an addiction to corruption. He’s shown a clear desire to hold office, but remarkably proved too shady for a job in politics.  Chael is never afraid to take the bully pulpit and hammer out a firm stance on a controversial topic, and when pinned down to a losing position he’s willing to say whatever is necessary to weasel his way out the hole he’s dug. He’s no stranger to cutting corners and skimming money from the top, which makes him a natural to head up a union. If he was willing to involve his mother in a real estate scheme, there’s little doubt he’d throw his “Uncle Dana” under the bus for a quick buck. Unless he seriously considers ditching a couple of his more nefarious personalities, he’s unlikely to glove up for awhile, and with his numerous other careers on hold this seems like a perfect fit for his unique set of morals.

Randy Couture: A true icon of the sport, “The Natural” has been involved in many of the UFC’s most memorable fights both inside the Octagon and inside the courtroom. Together they’ve made a lot of money, but following multiple break ups they’ve always seemed more reluctant bedfellows than chummy business partners. We’re only a few weeks into his latest retirement and Couture is already investing in new MMA ventures. With a stable of fighters at his side and as an obvious leader in our community he could no doubt foster support for a union throughout its ranks. He was willing to fight Zuffa in court to gain freedom from what he considered to be an unfair contract, and was very vocal about what he considered to be a lack of appropriately large paydays; maybe the time has come for him to walk that road once more.

Tito Ortiz: Even when it seemed suspiciously like he was simply looking out for himself, Tito always made it clear that he was actually fighting Dana White for every fighter’s rights. With his career in the UFC teetering on extinction, even Tito must realize his days as a fighter are numbered. He’s talked about the need for a fighter’s union—and his desire to run it–for years now, and with no other organization able to afford his hefty price tag his options will be limited. So what characteristics would you look for in a fighter union president? Eloquence? Check. Strong business acumen? Check. A trustworthy circle of friends to form his cabinet? Check.

BJ Penn: With the many turns that his career has taken, it’s clear that he’s unlikely to achieve the ambitious title of “greatest fighter to ever live”, and that may be a tough pill to swallow for a megalomaniac like Penn. Throughout his entire career, BJ has sought to dictate the terms. When Joe Rogan attempts to get his thoughts after the fight, he directs you to go to BJPenn.com to get his take. Before conducting an interview with him, you have to confirm that you do indeed like him very much. He even sued the UFC after vacating his belt to stop them from crowning a new champion. Penn is already a legend in this sport, but if he wants to rise to demigod status with the rest of the fight world serving as loyal subjects, this is his best shot.

- Chris Colemon

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dranokills- May 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm
Raises hand. I am against it...fuck you very much!
wet_noodle- May 22, 2011 at 11:35 am
Whoever is against the Union can fuck themselves. Or Jenna.
RwilsonR- May 22, 2011 at 12:19 am
Drano gets it. Any time you artificially set a price, you are ultimately going to hurt that industry. No matter how noble your intentions to help fighters, the likelihood is a union would result in fewer fighters being employed, more barriers to entry, and ultimately less opportunity for fighters. And this is the history of unions. Almost every major gain unions claim is historically inaccurate, as most of those worker benefits were a result of companies competing for labor and voluntarily giving out those benefits. Where unions have historically made gains for workers, it is usually short-lived, as it makes those companies no longer competitive. If a company is coerced by a union to artificially inflate wages beyond what the market dictates, the only way for that company to remain competitive is if the entire industry is compelled to adhere to similar artificial standards. And compelling an industry to adhere to something beyond market forces has two major problems. The first is loss of freedom, which should be discouraged in nearly all cases. The second is that a government can only compel an industry within its borders, and someone outside of their jurisdiction will move to fill the void, leaving those in the non-competitive union run areas out of work.
dranokills- May 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm
KarmaAteMyCat Says:

Sat, 05/21/11 - 11:03

As a fighter I think for this Sport to go any further it needs a union it will be one of the few things to keep Zuffa in check because obviously nothing else does. The Health insurance and fair pay situation has always been an issue for many fighters trying to make their way into the upper echelon of the sport. When you train a sport that involves kicking,punching and slamming you are bound to shake up a few things on your insides or tweak a joint here and there and thats just the minor things. Most people can’t afford health insurance in general so what do you think someone who quits their job and commits to MMA full time is going to be able to afford? All I know is that the Fighters need this. End of subject and you can’t relate the UFC to the NFL situation COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Please refer to SpicyMeatball’s post.
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no.....no man I am going to disagree with you. YOU, and all fighters made a choice at an early stage in your life to fight. You got a kick out of it...a thrill, a release if you will. Nobody made you become a fighter. If you decide you want to gamble your body for fame, glory, or money, then you are responsible for yourself, and your choices. Nobody needs other people dictating to a company what they can or cannot do, or provide for their employees. I don't care how many people seem to be envious of how rich owners get, no group o people should ever have the power to dictate how a business runs itself. It's none of anyones business, not even the fighters. If Zuffa doesn't want to cover second tier, or less fighters, then that's their choice. they want to invest in their top guys , thats THEIR choice. forcing them to treat all fighters equally when it is obvious that not all fighters are equal, is fucked up.
If you don't like the pay,or the risk, then don't fight....someone will step up and take your place. I trust ZUFFA to police themselves and do the best for their fighters, those that aren't happy need to move on.
I will give you an example: If I'm a millionaire, and you cut lawns, you aren't going to get any more than 50 bucks from me, which is the same price you get from the guy down the street who makes 50K a year. What I'm worth doesn't dictate your value to me, and if I hire you, I'm not paying you 10 times your worth or offering health bennys. A union would put ZUFFA in a position that they would have to cut a whole bunch of scrubs. Unions interfering in shit they have NO clue about is piss poor business, and even worse for a sport.
I worked for Boots and coots, a firefighter oil rig specialist company. they were worth multimillions when I worked for em, but I knew the risks going in, and there wasn't no overpaid workers, and there was no union. you get hurt, your done. I got lucky, i didnt stay long and I never got hurt. I never complained that the business made multiple thousands per day, and I was making twice minimum wage. I thought wow, double the pay...fuck yeah lets do this!
Lesnarischamp- May 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm
this seems like a position and standing tailor-made for couture.

Couture's name alone would grab enough headlines for it to take flight. And considering his past history with zuffa, it actually seems possible (barring some retirement agreement that couture has with zuffa).
fatbellyfrank- May 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm
If a union sticks to it's charter, there's no drama, it's when they perceive they can convince the voters to vote one way or another, and use this for political gain that makes things ugly. I would vote for Big John McCarthy. Main problem with this is theres no unilateral governing body, so it doesn't matter how many unions you have, the used car salesman putting on a fight card in Bumfuck Idaho is NOT gonna check medical records, ensure all fighters have insurance etc, and the fights will be a distant memory when some union official tries to check on the event.
nickyroose- May 21, 2011 at 11:42 am
"business killing ideas"?

Terrible. Anyone who is anti-union needs to learn a little more about the history of this country. Seriously look up George Pullman, Henry Crick, and more modernly Henry Loeb. NOt to mention Nestle and Dole and hundreds of other places that are horrific to workers. Not to put Uncle D with those guys but when a guy makes 6,000 on a fight that is televised and they can only do so 4 times a year and have to pay fro training an all that you're looking at a 24,000 a year income if you consider training and ad money canceling each other out (which I doubt) then there is no way you can believe this sport will go up.

I always laugh when people talk how much NFL, MLB players make when you look at the owners. A treasury agent once showed me how much every single major sport team owner makes simply through the tax write-offs. It's incredible I suggest you sit down and figure it out. when a team "loses money" it's really saving the owners millions. When it balances out the UFC makes more for the fertittas as a casino write-off then they could ever live gate.

if Anderson Silva made 200,000 for a fight to show, and he is arguably the most dangerous human being who ever lived at 185 I do side work for a guy who makes 200,000 a month and is not even widely known as especially good.
KarmaAteMyCat- May 21, 2011 at 11:23 am
^+1RWR
RwilsonR- May 21, 2011 at 11:10 am
I really hope there is no union in this sport ever. For every small good thing it would produce, it would probably produce another ten bad unintended consequences. And this sport is still too young, and not strong enough to survive some of the business killing ideas that a union would have.
That being said, I nominate Clay Guida - the only fighter I know of currently sponsored by a union. Either that, or Tito Ortiz or Frank Shamrock, since it would then fail faster than WAMMA.
KarmaAteMyCat- May 21, 2011 at 11:03 am
As a fighter I think for this Sport to go any further it needs a union it will be one of the few things to keep Zuffa in check because obviously nothing else does. The Health insurance and fair pay situation has always been an issue for many fighters trying to make their way into the upper echelon of the sport. When you train a sport that involves kicking,punching and slamming you are bound to shake up a few things on your insides or tweak a joint here and there and thats just the minor things. Most people can't afford health insurance in general so what do you think someone who quits their job and commits to MMA full time is going to be able to afford? All I know is that the Fighters need this. End of subject and you can't relate the UFC to the NFL situation COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Please refer to SpicyMeatball's post.
Spicymeatball- May 21, 2011 at 10:39 am
@MMAinmyblood

I don't see what you don't get about the NFL Labor issues. The Players Union did not strike, the Owners locked them out. They had a deal set in place for years after this year, and 2 years ago the owners opted out. The Players want to play and make a living this year, even if it means playing under the CBA that still heavily favors the owners, who want a new one and take even more money and rights away from the players. This labor situation is completely the fault of the owners, and has nothing to do with the NFLPA. Really shitty of NFL players who want to make sure that while they are hitting each other into early graves that the NFL should take care of said players.
McMonkeyBoy- May 21, 2011 at 10:35 am
No Joe Rogan or Rick Franklin?
dranokills- May 21, 2011 at 10:14 am
fuck a union.
Pen Fifteen- May 21, 2011 at 10:01 am
Let me tell you how you're feeling right now
MMAINMYBLOOD- May 21, 2011 at 9:58 am
As a fan I hope there is no union.. I dont want to see what happened in the NFL happen here too.. being part of a union I can say it would help the fighters allot.. but this is not a team sport so I dont see it happening..
frndlylion- May 21, 2011 at 9:37 am
OH Its got to be Chael!
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