The UFC has brought combat sports back to the forefront of the American sports world. Boxing, as a brand, was relegated to niche programming found on HBO, Showtime, with the mid-tier fights taking place on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. Much like boxing, the UFC has a chaotic schedule, volatile fighters, and more unpredictability than any mainstream sport.
To an extent, the UFC and MMA as a whole is paying for boxing’s sins. One of the stigmas attached to combat sports is that the sport abuses the value of it’s fighters. The Muhammad Ali Act was put in place to protect boxer’s from predatory promoters who had been stealing money from their prize fighters. Some state representatives are now trying to extend the Muhammad Ali Act to cover MMA. In order to protect itself for long-term stability, the UFC must navigate promoter-fighter relationships better than the fight promoters of the past.
There are strong arguments both for and against creating a fighter’s union. Since the end of summer there are now multiple players looking to unionize MMA fighters. Current events surrounding the recent sale of the UFC and recent practices by the company have created a sense of urgency amongst some fighters to form a union to collectively bargain for benefits, pay, and protections.