Jon Fitch and Jacob Volkmann Talk UFC Fighters’ Union During WSOF 3 Media Call
Just one week before Jon Fitch and Jacob Volkmann are set to debut for the World Series of Fighting against Josh Burkman and Lyle Beerbohm, respectively, the two fighters spoke to the media answering questions about their recent departures from the UFC.
During the questioning, Volkmann announced that he had intended to speak to Jon Fitch after the media call to speak with him about issues with the UFC. In a rather unorthodox turn, it became fighter interviewing fighter- and quite candidly. Below is their interaction:
Volkmann: I don’t know if I’d call it a weight off my shoulders, it’s a new thing, that’s for sure. I did have a question for Fitch too, after this thing. I was wondering if Fitch wanted to get a fighters’ union started for UFC to see if we could get a union started so fighters could get a little better pay, a little more leverage in their contracts.
Fitch: That’s something that I’ve been talking about a lot lately. I wouldn’t so much go after the pay necessarily, but there are some things that I would go after right away, which would be just giving fighters a voice, you know, because we don’t get a say in rules, we don’t a say in TRT use or marijuana use or anything that commissions decide. Everythign is left up to promoters and commissions. The fighters need a voice somewhere. Our rights need to be represented, and our feelings need to be represented somehow.
Volkmann: Well you were mentioning there was some kind of job security you were afraid of. I have a new idea about changing the contract that would ensure job security for the fighters so they don’t have to worry about getting fired after every fight.
Fitch: Yeah, job safety, that would be something that would be worth talking about also.
Volkmann: Well I would change the contract where it’s not four fights but you can get cut after one fight. I would make it a two-year contract minimum; a minimum of two fights per year, and a minimum pay. I would definitely change the minimum pay to be around $15,000 per fight, so that at least you get paid $30,000 per the minimum for the fighter. They can afford it, they have big pockets obviously, everyone knows they have big pockets because they’re buying out Strikeforce and buying out all their competitors, trying to bully them out. It would help the competitors like the World Series to survive if the UFC actually had a focus on paying the fighters better.
Volkmann: That is the hardest part. Right now I’m going to try to contact the NFL’s Players’ Association, I treat some of the NFL players. I can’t say who, because it’s against HIPPA. But I’m going to try to get a hold of the NFL PA and see what I need to do. I have all the contact information from all the fighters in the UFC, so that’s the hard part. I just need to call them all.
Fitch: Having support from other unions also, I think, would be important, because if you have union support from people who host the shows, the people who run the events, the people who sell concessions- all those people are on board, then you have a lot more power.
Volkmann: Well, yeah. I don’t like when the UFC says they treat the fighters so well, and I think everyone- not everyone- the majority are fighting just to make the next fight. And they don’t treat them well, there’s no benefits.
Fitch: For me it was a hostile work environment. The biggest thing for me, I noticed that if you had good management, they were automatically not your friend. If your managers were doing their job, you were put in a bad corner.
It was at this point that Jim Hunter, who was mediating the call, decided to end the conversation of any ‘perceived rights or wrongs by any other organization.’ While the topic was dropped, it is clear that both Fitch and Volkmann feel very passionately about this issue. Volkmann said he is beginning to lay the groundwork for establishing a fighters’ union, so we can expect to hear more about this after the fight, when he will presumably have time between training camps to realize his goals.
UFC President Dana White responded to Fitch’s statements earlier in the call about the UFC being a hostile work environment, but has yet to issue a response to Volkmann and Fitch’s discussion of unions.
The World Series of Fighting 3 card will be Friday, June 14 live at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casion. The main card will be airing on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 8pm PT, and the preliminary fights will stream online live beginning at 5:15 pm PT.