Pat Miletich understands fighter concerns in the UFC but doubts the success of a union in MMA

Last December, it was revealed that several high profile fighters had filed a class action anti-trust lawsuit against the UFC worth $100 million. Since…

By: Karim Zidan | 9 years ago
Pat Miletich understands fighter concerns in the UFC but doubts the success of a union in MMA
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Last December, it was revealed that several high profile fighters had filed a class action anti-trust lawsuit against the UFC worth $100 million. Since the time of the initial filing, two more lawsuits have been added to the original one – both nearly identical.

Within the lawsuit, the UFC is accused of issues such as monopolistic control of the market by buying of competitors to lessen a fighter’s likeness. While former champion Pat Miletich is not one of the named plaintiffs on any of the lawsuits, he does see a point when scrutinizing the contract stipulations of low-end fighters on the roster.

“Well in terms of the contracts, you know it’s a situation where one organization having a great deal of power and making you sign a contract that includes signing away your likeness and the rights to that likeness for as long as the company wants to use it,” Miletich told Submission Radio. “The champion’s clause, where if I have the belt underneath an organization, I can’t walk and look for [another company] at the end of my contract. If I’m a champion there’s always another fight that I have to fulfill no matter what, and there’s a few other things in the contract that, you know, that I haven’t looked at one of them for a long time, but I’m assuming for the most part that they’re similar to that.

“And a lot of guys have complained about it of late who are still athletes and they concur with some of those things. So the restrictive nature of the contracts are pretty tough to deal with I think for the athletes, and also on top of that, not being able to get the sponsors that you want unless those sponsors pay a fee to the promoter or the promotion before they can sponsor athletes, and it goes on down the line. So it makes it tough for the athletes.”

Well aware of the costs of being a professional fighter working up the ranks, Miletich suggests that many fighters are likely to be in debt because their initial purses with the company simply do not allow them to make ends meet.

“You have to figure, if I’m getting whatever it is now 8,000 to show up in any organization, my medicals cost quite a bit of money to go through, I have to pay my manager, I have to pay my trainers, I have to pay taxes. So by the time I get done getting paid, I actually might be in the hole a little bit. So it’s pretty tough. And on top of that now with restricting sponsors, it’s very tough for the guys trying to come up and break in through the upper ranks.”

While the recent lawsuit has simultaneously rekindled talks of a potential union in MMA, Miletich doubts that such a drastic change can come to fruition anytime soon, mainly because of how difficult it is for individual athletes in solo sports to join together.

“I think a union is very tough to pull off because of the independent contractor status of the athletes. It’s not like they are members of a team that pays them as they do in baseball and football and things like that. So it’s very difficult to do that.

“What are the union fees going to be? You know? When guys are only fighting four times a year, three times a year, some two times a year, how do you work that out? What are the benefits of it? I’m not necessarily a guy that would support a fighters union. If the contracts were adjusted to be more fair to the athletes and give them more power in the future in the direction of their career, I think that’s sufficient. I’m a guy that’s a big believer in the free market system and the guys that perform the best get paid the most and put buts in seats. so that’s really what I comes down to. So [I’m] not necessarily a guy that supports a fighters union, and on top of that it would be very tough to pull off.”

Transcription taken from Submission Radio.

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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