In case you haven’t heard, I’m involved in a lawsuit against the UFC for monopolizing the MMA industry which has led to them being able to completely control and dictate their terms to any fighters. Dennis Hallman, Javier Vasquez, Kyle Kingsbury, Cung Le, Jon Fitch, Brandon Vera and myself were all there at the courthouse in a showing of solidarity.
Bloody Elbow was also there and did a pretty in depth write up of the events of yesterday.
“Three plaintiffs, Nate Quarry, Dennis Hallman and Javier Vazquez, have old UFC contracts with a forum selection clause that only addresses state court, not federal. The plaintiffs argue that the freedom of these fighters to choose a location to file their antitrust lawsuit should win out. The UFC believes the eight other fighters with the federal court forum selection clause shouldn’t be able to get out of their contractual responsibilities just by filing suit with those with old contracts.”
This was really the “Battle of the Lawyers.” Each presenting their side with the confidence of Connor McGregor fighting an infant. The defense, i.e. the UFC’s lawyers, spoke over and over again about how the “executives of Zuffa” are just too busy running a company to be bothered with traveling to San Jose to engage in a lawsuit and that we should come to them. Of course he doesn’t mention the several times the UFC has actually SUED people in that very court in San Jose when it’s convenient to them. Shocking.
“The UFC themselves have selected Northern California multiple times for litigation activities (citing cases against Pappy’s Grill and Sports Bar and BAM! Entertainment).” Bloody Elbow
I was VERY impressed with the judge. This is no doubt a high profile case and he knew it inside and out. Even able to quote passages by number and verse. We’ll see where this goes but no matter what we’re moving forward.
There was a mention as well about my outburst of laughter in the courtroom. Yep, that was me. Here’s how it went down: The lawyer for the defense kept making one outlandish claim after the other. Just blatant untruths. He was closing up his arguments and his third one went like this, “And we will prove that the claim that the UFC holds onto these fighter’s rights and likenesses in perpetuity is just not true.” I couldn’t hold it in. I burst out laughing. IN a completely silent courtroom. EVERYONE turned to look at me. And there I am with a goofy grin on my face. Yep, it was me. I just couldn’t believe the lawyer for the defense could stand in front of a judge and state something as fact that is a BLATANT UNTRUTH. The judge looked at me to see if I was going to do anything else. I wanted to but I figured one interruption per day is enough. The lawyer however, completely stopped, stammered for a second and said, “I’m used to more respect being shown me in a court of law.” Well, in MY world, we don’t let people get away with blatant statements that are no where near the truth. Since we couldn’t throw some gloves on the lawyer and beat the truth into him, laughing would have to do.
After we left and our team was all together they all said the same thing. “How can a lawyer stand in front of a judge and lie like that?” “Well… It’s not necessarily lying. It’s splitting hairs and interpretation of the contract.” Now we know.
This is going to be a loooong process. This was just the first day. And the first step. A bully only has the power you give him. I’ve never understood the old Western movies where 3 bad guys would take over a town of hundreds. All the people have to do is stand together. Even Scientologists know that. They proved it when they took on the IRS and WON! I think now fighters will start to believe they have a chance at winning their rights as athletes and men/women. Before it was EVERY fighter individually complaining about the UFC. Now our numbers are growing.
And completely separately of the lawsuit we’re working on the MMA Fighter’s Association. Giving the power to the athletes and not solely to the owners. Actually working together where we can ALL benefit. The hundreds of fighters can perhaps send their kids to college after fighting in front of millions of people.
That goal just got that much harder with the new Reebok deal coming into effect. The UFC now dictates how much money fighters will make from their one sponsor. In my last fight through the efforts of my agent at AMR he earned me over $40,000 in sponsorship money all from businesses that like the way I carry myself and want their name attached to mine. According to the UFC pay scale I would have made $5,000. That’s all I’m worth to them.
And the lies attached to the Reebok deal from day 1 have just been amazing. Dana saying, “This is all for the fighters! We’re not making a dime!” Really? So Reebok is NOT cutting you a check at all to be the exclusive clothing sponsor of the UFC? Blatant lies. Not only has the UFC cut a separate deal with Reebok for themselves, the UFC also has employees that are funded by the Reebok sponsorship money so they can manage the deal moving forward. OH! And let’s not forget that the UFC decided that some of that sponsorship money, right off the top, goes to charity. “Our fighters are starving and now that we’ve killed their biggest source of income we’re going to give away some of THEIR money to charity without asking them.”
But for the first time, fighters are actually LOUDLY complaining about this deal. Imagine your boss just randomly saying you now make 1/8th of what you did last pay period. But it’s ok, it’s all for you. I mean, it’s not about money right?
Here’s what the UFC does, and it’s been done in every industry over and over. First, control the media. They’ve done that by threatening to pull credentials from the media if you don’t play along and post what they want you to. That’s why there is no REAL media coverage at the fights. You don’t see Sports Illustrated there. Or ESPN. Which is funny because when I just had my exhibition bout with Jacob a couple weeks ago, it was front page of the Oregonian. Also covered by ESPN and Sports Illustrated. But shockingly enough, the #1 trending story on Facebook the Monday after, wasn’t covered at all by MMA Weekly, Sherdog or Ariel Hewani. Even Joe Rogan has jumped on board bashing the fighters in the lawsuit claiming that he knows Cung Le was on steroids after the UFC botched a test with Cung and ruined his reputation. And even stating that the four fighters on the lawsuit are just bitter their careers didn’t go like we wanted them to.
Step two is to demonize the fighters. How many owners of NFL, NBA or MLB teams have you heard talk about “greedy athletes”? “It’s all about money for these spoiled babies! I’m paying them millions of dollars! To live their dreams! I bet you would love to play ball for a living. You’d probably do it for free you’d be so happy to be playing a game for your job.” Then a sweet smile and nod to the crowd.
Then why don’t you sign all those fans who’d love to fight for free? Oh, because they’ve never trained and no one would pay to watch them fight. My guess is if they trained for 15 years six days a week they’d realize that all that effort actually has a value. And what’s really funny to me is the people that always accuse athletes about being greedy? They’re BILLIONAIRES. So why don’t they slash ticket prices? Why don’t they live in YOUR neighborhood? Send their kids to public school? Drive a Toyota? OH. Because for them it IS all about money.
Who’s greedier: The owner who got his billions from his daddy handing it down to them who fights to pay as little as possible to his workers while simultaneously raising PPV and ticket prices every chance he gets….
The athlete who pays out of pocket to train for years. Then starts fighting for free on the amateur circuit for years, losing money to go fight in front of a few thousand people. Turning pro to make maybe $500 a fight and after 10+ years of training and fighting for next to nothing finally making it to the big show when your body is already damaged beyond repair and hopes to make enough money in his very short window to buy a car and maybe a house and if he’s really lucky, send his kids to college so if they end up fighting it will be a choice not a necessity to try against all odds to make it in the fight game.
Ok, enough rambling. Here’s my final say on all this, I’m actually just cut and pasting it from my Facebook page. Enjoy another rant:
Here’s my rant on uneducated idiots who have no comprehension of what the Reebok deal has done to already underpaid fighters.
Hopefully this will finally wake up some of the fighters and motivate them to fight for change. We used to be able to dictate our own value, at least through sponsors. If you have fans? Market yourself well? Then companies will be happy to slap their brand on your ass. NOW? It doesn’t matter how much you market yourself. Your value is dictated by the UFC. And you don’t get a cut of the PPV no matter how many buys are sold.
Your boss, “Hey, I need you to come in this weekend. We’ve got a great product we need to really push to the public and we have a deadline. We’re hoping to sell 500k units. Of course I won’t be paying you for your time this weekend. It’s not that I can’t, I pocket millions a year it’s just that I don’t want to. If I pay you, then I’ll have to pay everyone I want to work extra. I mean seriously, look at the Phantom I drive. I could obviously pay you more but then I wouldn’t make as much. See my problem there? Of course I’m not going to FORCE you to work this weekend. But we both know what happens to employees who want to be compensated for their work above what I tell them their value is. No, I won’t fire you, then you could go to work for the competition! I’m only going to reduce your hours to the point of starvation. Of course you could quit but you’ll never work in this field again. And I know that you have a very limited career life so I can pretty much dictate everything and how it goes down. Oh, and I changed your benefits too without asking you. It’s what’s best for the company. You’re a company man right? Great. See you Saturday.”
It’s amazing how little people actually know. Talk to one fighter who gets paid shit and you think that applies to all 500?
If he has 7 fights in the UFC that means he was NOT in the UFC prior to the sponsor tax that killed 99% of all sponsors. Back when Dethroned would pay 12k just for shorts because they were competing with EVERY other shorts company IN THE WORLD. THEN the sponsor tax. $100,000 to the UFC to sponsor a fighter. That knocked out all but about FOUR sponsors. That same Dethroned sponsorship now pays $250. These are ACTUAL numbers. Not made up.
FIVE YEARS AGO I MADE OVER $40,000 IN SPONSORSHIPS ALONE. On ONE FIGHT. The UFC would have paid me FIVE THOUSAND. Because you know, that’s all I’m worth.
Unless you’ve fought from the bottom and made it to the top, BE QUIET and LISTEN to EDUCATED people talk.
You want to be a fan of the UFC? Cool. Read their financial reports. Listen to Dana talk. If you want to actual be a fan of the SPORT and the FIGHTERS then maybe listen to the actual fighters and NOT the BILLIONAIRE owners who are selling you a load of crap.
It’s just amazing to me that ANY actual worker would support the billionaire owners of ANY league over the athletes that are actually putting on the show for them.
“I’d fight for free!” Well, you’d have to because no one would pay to watch you fight. You suck. How about this, train for 15 years paying out of pocket for your training, turn amateur, and fight for free, turn pro and make it all the way to the UFC and then WIN THE TITLE! And turn to Unca Dana and tell him you don’t want any money. You don’t care if your kids get to eat while he’s making billions off your name. He’d be happy not to pay you.
My guess is you’d change your mind pretty quick.
Oh, and for those that say, “If you don’t like it, quit!” Well, that’s not really an option is it? When you “quit” a job, you go find another one. With the UFC you can only “retire.” Meaning your career, your dream is over. You’ll never fight again. I know many fighters who have had to “retire” because they will never fight for the UFC again. You can only disrespect someone so much before they finally have had enough.
While revenue has gone up for the UFC, pay to the workers has gone down.
Come fight for the UFC. You’ll end up broke and broken. But at least you can buy a DVD with yourself fighting in it. Or you can rent a photo of yourself fighting from the UFC.
Of you can join the MMA Fighter’s Association and work with us to change the sport so the athletes and their children have a future.
As always, thanks to YOU the fans who have made this possible. Without YOU none of this would have been possible. Thank you.