Kobe Bryant Gave Fighters Advice And Support For A Union At The UFC Retreat

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Talk of an MMA fighter’s union is downright taboo in UFC circles. The UFC’s profit sharing with its athletes are near the lowest, if not the lowest, of any major sport. There’s talk of backroom “discretionary bonuses” that have floated about for the last decade, but no one can ever confirm how much they are or when they’re coming. After the UFC’s $4.2 billion sale in 2016, fighter’s want a piece. They’re the ones drawing the fans and getting kicked in the head, after all.

Still, it’s a big no-no to bring up a union at UFC events. Journalists will usually get shut down, and fighters rarely bring it up. But, at the UFC fighter’s retreat, which already saw one fighter escorted out after bringing up the low Reebok pay scale and Cris Cyborg punch Angela Magana for mocking her looks incessantly on social media (which Cyborg said was in part due to UFC president Dana White and commentator Joe Rogan’s previous comments paving the way), a union came up while Kobe Bryant addressed the fighters, and he was for it.

“When you guys have this unity, when you guys are operating together on the same page together, it does nothing but simply fortify the sport and make the sport better,” Bryant said. “Not just for the present, but also for the future generations that are coming, so it’s extremely important.”

Beyond a class-action lawsuit by some big-name former fighters, the MMA Athlete’s Association, led by Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw, Tim Kennedy and Donald Cerrone (as well as former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney) formed in November, along with multiple other groups attempting to create an MMA fighter’s union. But, most have gone quiet in recent months. Despite everyone wanting to get paid more for their lucrative business, it’s still prizefighting, which leads to a machismo and confidence that 600 fighters think they’ll all become the next Conor McGregor, which won’t happen.

The basic goals of the MMAAA are: Increasing fighter revenue share to 50%, a settlement to compensate past and present UFC fighters, and long-term benefits after retirement. Similar to most sports unions.

(Via Bleacher Report)

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