August 8, 2015, halfguarded.com suggests that Georges St. Pierre should lead the charge towards the unionization of professional fighters. Today, the former UFC Welterweight Champion took the first step towards that dream.
St. Pierre was the highest profile fighter to announce that he was taking part in an attempt to organize the labor of professional fighting. St. Pierre was joined by Bjorn Rebney as the announcement of a new MMA Union was made. While the two repeatedly said it was an “association” and not a “union” one wonders what the practical difference will be. That we wonder is on them than us, as it wasn’t really laid out what they’d be doing, beyond vague promises and statements. For practical purposes, it seems like a union.
This is not the first time a union for fighters has been proposed but with GSP front and center it is certainly the most high profile and likely to succeed. The news was not a huge surprise, as word had leaked that Rebny had registered several domains associated with an MMA union.
St. Pierre was not alone, as former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, former UFC Bantamweight Champion T.J. Dillashaw were present, as were Donald Cerrone and Tim Kennedy. That represents a good portion of some very important upcoming fights.
A UFC Union Changes the Sport
Clearly, a true union would be a game changer for the sport. Professional fighting, be it boxing, wrestling, pro wrestling, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and so on, has always been a wild west of talent and promoters.
On one hand, some fighters have become richer than they likely ever would have had their been a union (Floyd Mayweather Jr. springs to mind).
On the other hand, there’s been a growing dissatisfaction from fighters about treatment by the UFC. And make no mistake, while I’m sure any union would be happy to engage with Bellator, WSOF, and so on, this is all about the UFC.
Fighters being unhappy with the UFC is nothing new, per se, but the number of fighters has seemed to grow in recent months, along with their willingness to vocalize their issues. Hazarding a guess, the sale of the UFC for a reported $4.2b was the tipping point; fighters finally had concrete proof that the sport (read: company) was truly a behemoth made of money.
Rebney’s involvement in all of this comes as a surprise. The former head of Bellator had been ousted from his position when Viacom made the decision to hand control of the promotion to Scott Coker. Rebney had essentially disappeared from the landscape and, frankly, much of the talk regarding him was negative as a number of fighters came out and publicly spoke poorly of his time running Bellator and were happy to see him go. Now it turns out he may be one of the most powerful men in the sport.
Whether unionization is successful could end up as the biggest story in UFC history. Rather than rehash the pros and cons, read our truly excellent piece on the matter by clicking HERE.