Earlier this month, UFC fighters got a curious survey sent to them about the future of USADA and how the organization and its employers would interact. The purpose of the questionnaire was to gauge interest in an app that would be installed on UFC fighter’s phones to track their whereabouts, making it easier and more efficient for the athletes and USADA. Well, at least that’s what they were going for. Sean Strickland did not support the idea, now Leslie Smith has released a comprehensive statement about the idea.
“What’s your response if your job said they were going to track you 24/7 with your phone? Same as mine? In my journey to educate and advocate for the UFC fighter’s union I hear some arguments for keeping the independent contractor status. I would rather be an independent contractor with no boss except for myself if it was possible but right now it’s the pits of them both – we don’t get benefits or federal protection as employees because we are ICs but we’re treated as employees by being regulated in our uniforms, not allowed to seek out other contracts for our fighting skill set and under supervision at all times through the USADA program. And now they want to make the USADA program into the type of tracker app a parent gets for their 10 year old.”
If every fighter complaint was followed with 'because I support a union' we would have legal leverage to level the playing field
— Leslie Smith (@LeslieSmith_GF) July 1, 2017
“If we don’t fight for employee status to get benefits and most importantly a seat at the table to discuss and participate in decisions like this then it’s not going to stop. The rules and regulations will not end and the fighters will never be given their due for acquiescing. It’s time to stop being spectators to the process and get a seat at the table. Did any other fighters notice this? Post about this? Get pissed about this? Are we children that we should be tracked at all times? Or am I not in line with other people in my frustration and indignation at this? Is is reasonable for a contracted job to track you at all times? — Leslie Smith on her personal Instagram.
Leslie Smith, a veteran of the sport, has been vocal about fighter’s rights and the formation of a union. She was at one point a member of the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association, but is no longer apart of it or any of the other associations. She is one of the few, including Neil Magny, who spoke up at the UFC athlete retreat earlier this year to attempt to bring fighters together to make change.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/30/2017.