Jake Paul’s plans to organize MMA fighters include paying them to potentially not fight.
During an appearance on impulsivePaul indicated that one of his first tasks in his new venture is to raise money for a war chest that could disrupt the flow of UFC talent, presumably to entice the industry leader to come to the is counting on better contractual conditions for the fighters.
“We’re going to raise $50 million, and the fighters who are fighting are verifying [to] check — we’ll fund them so they don’t have to obey the UFC,” Paul said. “We will fund their salaries or career earnings.”
Paul did not explain his comment and several requests for comment to his promotional partner, Nakisa Bidarian of Most Valuable Promotions, were not immediately returned.
The 25-year-old boxer and former YouTuber appeared on the podcast three days after picking up the biggest victory of his pugilistic career, a decision over former UFC middleweight pivot Anderson Silva. Paul has been widely praised by combat sports fans, although he said the event suffered commercially after a video emerged of Silva reporting a pair of knockouts in training camp. The ex-champion then returned to his comments, which dated back more than a month.
Paul announced his organizing efforts at a press conference for the boxing match, betting Silva a kickboxing rematch with a loss and a helping hand to “help UFC fighters get a better pay and better health care” if they win. Silva agreed to the stipulation that all fighters, not just UFC, be targeted for association.
At the post-fight press conference, Paul called UFC President Dana White again and said White hated him for “exposing his business.” He looked in Bidarian’s direction and added, “Now we will come together and create a united fighters association to help UFC fighters, all MMA fighters and boxers get more pay, health care long-term health, and it’s a big business that I’ve wanted to do this for my entire career, ever since I met Nakisa, I told her on day one, I said that I wanted to create a union of fighters.
An association is, for now, a more accurate description of what a combatant organization would look like. Since they are considered independent contractors and not employees of the UFC and other promotions, MMA fighters cannot legally unionize unless they first sign union permission cards. and that the National Labor Relations Board determines that they were misclassified and are, in fact, employees. An earlier effort to coerce the UFC’s hand over misclassification via the NLRB failed when the organization, Project Spearhead, was unable to convince 30% of the roster to sign union clearance cards. .
Project Spearhead was one of four known efforts to organize the fighters. All but one, the MMA Fighters Association, briefly failed after being made public, and the MMAFA turned to another goal: to change the Ali Act to include MMA fighters and protect them from onerous contracts and business practices. MMAFA founder Rob Maysey also teamed up with leading law firms to file an antitrust lawsuit against the UFC, which is still pending.
Several labor experts called for some type of organizing effort, although at least one expert advised that a trade association, which is not directly involved in negotiating labor practices, might be more suitable for MMA fighters.
The UFC has previously resisted efforts to unionize fighters, once urging them not to sign with a Nevada-based culinary union then at war with the promotion’s former majority owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta over a union campaign involving their family business, Station Casinos.
White, meanwhile, has repeatedly rejected calls for a widespread pay rise, saying fighters “get paid what they’re supposed to get paid.” He wrote off long-term health insurance as impossible given the size of the promotion’s roster and their profession, though he touted the UFC’s accident insurance policy, which covers fighters in the event of a training accident or other injuries outside the cage.
A now-defunct promotion, International Fight League, briefly paid contractors a monthly living allowance, but soon ran into financial trouble and went out of business.
The cost of equalizing UFC fighter salaries wouldn’t be cheap. Bloody Elbow’s John Nash reported that using revenue figures from UFC parent company Endeavour, a benefactor would need to find between $164.36 million and $184.27 million to cover fighter compensation. in 2021.