The way the UFC is structured at present, fighters are considered “independent contractors” and not “employees.” However, former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw doesn’t believe the UFC is adhering to treating its fighters like contractors.
Dillashaw let loose on Team Alpha Male’s Stud Show Radio podcast about the employees vs. independent contractors debate, and he specifically cited the recent USADA implementation and Reebok deals in his case. (Transcription via MMA Fighting)
“They treat us like employees, but they don’t give us benefits like employees,” Dillashaw said. “It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. We have to tell them where we’re at at all times, so USADA can show up and drug test us. But we don’t get health benefits. It’s kind of crazy that we are controlled. Any time you have to tell work where you’re at and what you’re doing, that’s considered an employee, not a contractor. They can’t tell a subcontractor what to do and when to do it. So this whole drug-testing thing is kind of crazy and the way they’re making us wear Reebok and all this stuff we have to do. They’re treating us like employees, but not giving us the benefits of an employee.”
In 2011, the UFC announced that its “independent contractor athletes will now be eligible for customized accident insurance coverage,” which covers “accidental injuries suffered by athletes while training, as well as non-training incidents such as automobile accidents.” At the time, the policy covered fighters for up to $50,000 per year.
Dillashaw also weighed in on the recent UFC sale to WME-IMG for $4 billion, and how the UFC repeatedly denied reports of the impending sale in public, to its employees, and to the fighters.
“With UFC, we’ve pretty much stayed in the dark as much as possible,” Dillashaw said.. “They’re telling us they’re not selling the company when everyone knows they’re selling it. It’s public record, but they’re still trying to tell us they weren’t. They’re just going to wait for the last minute for everything for us to find out.”
The UFC sent out a letter to all fighters about the sale earlier this week, which you can read here.
Dillashaw defeated Raphael Assuncao by unanimous decision on the preliminary card of UFC 200. His disclosed pay was just $50,000 ($25,000 win/$25,000 show). The $25,000 show purse was the 2nd lowest on the entire event, only bettering the $13,000 for Enrique Marin against Sage Northcutt, who is on a $50,000/$50,000 contract. Dillashaw also says he plans to talk to the UFC about his contract and getting a title shot rematch against Dominick Cruz.
The quotes are scattered about, but you can watch the important bits in the video above at around the 1:40:00 timestamp.
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