It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: tension between the UFC and its fighters is at an all-time high.
After weeks of failed negotiations, welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre recently made the claim that he’d terminated his UFC contract and that he’d be testing free agency. Featherweight great Jose Aldo has asked to be released from his UFC contract so he can leave the sport altogether. Top contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Julianna Peña have both recently flirted with UFC departures after being stiffed on title shots. Featherweight veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri has asked to be released from his contract. The list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, even the toughest fighters are not adequately equipped for bureaucratic battle with a corporate leviathan like the UFC. Try as they might, they generally don’t have the resources or support to improve their UFC contracts – contracts that were recently compared to slavery by the lawyer representing St-Pierre.
If fighters were to mobilize in the creation of a fighter’s union that could change. Were this to occur, they’d likely need a high-profile and high-energy figure to lead the charge.
Several names have been mentioned in this discussion in the past, including Conor McGregor and Mark Hunt. The latest fighter to express his willingness to lead a potential fighter’s union is fan favorite welterweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The Colorado native discussed this possibility with Tim Kennedy and Derek Brunson on a recent episode of his podcast, BMF Ranch.
“I’ll headline [a union]. I’m with you guys. We need the union,” Cerrone said on his show. “I’ve talked about this many times, I think we need strong fighters and popular fighters that can headline and let everyone know that it’s okay, that we need: not only better pay, but we need dental, we need medical. And what happens if you get hurt? Where is your 401K? Where is anything? Every other sport in the world has a union.”
“It’s not fair to what we are doing, because like I told you the other day, if you were Derek Brunson playing football or baseball, you’d be a 10 million dollar a year guy at least. At least. And why are you not right now? Because we don’t have a union, because if Derek Brunson doesn’t fight, but this guy will just because, ‘oh, it’s the UFC! I’ll do it for $2,000’.
“We need league minimums,” Cerrone continued. “We need everything. We need to pay our dues. It’s not only pay, it’s so much deeper, what needs to be happening with the union. When it comes, I’ll be on the front lines saying, ‘I’m Cowboy, I’m fucking pro-Trump and pro-union.”
Do you think Cowboy is the man to lead the charge in the creation of a fighters union? Sound off, PENN Nation!