Jake Paul’s plans to organize MMA fighters include paying them to potentially not fight.
During an appearance on Impaulsive, Paul indicated one of his first tasks in his new venture is to raise money for a war chest that could interrupt the UFC’s flow of talent, presumably to entice the industry-leader to come to the table on better contract terms for fighters.
“We’re going to raise $50 million, and the fighters who are fighting check [to] check — we will fund them so they don’t have to be obedient to the UFC,” Paul said. We will pay their salaries .”
or their career earnings.
Paul didn’t expound on his comment, and multiple requests for comment to his promotional partner, Nakisa Bidarian of Most Valuable Promotions, weren’t immediately returned.
The 25-year-old boxer and former YouTuber appeared on the podcast three days after notching the biggest win of his pugilistic career, a decision over ex-UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva. Although Paul received a lot of praise from combat sport fans, he claimed that the event was not as successful commercially because Silva’s video of him performing two knockouts during training camp. The ex-champ later walked back his comments, which were over one month old.
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 better pay and better healthcare” in the event of a win. Silva agreed with the stipulation that all fighters, not just in the UFC, be targeted for the association.
Paul called out UFC President Dana White again at the post-fight conference and stated that White had criticized him for “exposing” his business. He then said, “now we’re going together to create a united fighters organization to help UFC fighters all MMA fighters boxers get more pay and long-term health care. That’s a huge undertaking that I have been wanting to undertake for my entire career. I told Nakisa on the first day that I would like to form a fighter’s’s union
An association describes, for the time, what fighters’ organizations would look like. Since they are considered independent contractors and not employees of the UFC and other promotions, MMA fighters could not legally unionize unless they first sign union authorization cards and the National Labor Relations Board determines they have been misclassified and are, in fact, employees. A previous effort to force the UFC’s hand on misclassification via the NLRB failed when the organization, Project Spearhead, was unable to convince 30 percent of the roster to sign the union authorization cards.
Project Spearhead was one of four known efforts to organize fighters. The MMA Fighters Association was the only one that failed to materialize after it was made public. The MMAFA shifted to another goal, amending the Ali Act in order to allow MMA fighters to be included and protecting them against unfair contracts and other business practices. The MMAFA’s founder, Rob Maysey, also joined forces with high-profile law firms to file an anti-trust action against the UFC, which remains ongoing.
Several labor experts have called for some type of organizing effort, though at least one expert has advised a professional association, which is not directly involved in negotiating labor practices, could be more apt for MMA fighters.
The UFC previously has 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 drive involving their family business, Station Casinos.
White, meanwhile, has repeatedly dismissed calls for an across-the-board pay raise, saying fighters “get paid what they’re supposed to get paid.” He has written off long-term health insurance as impossible given the size of the promotion’s roster and their occupation, though he has touted the UFC’s accident insurance policy, which covers fighters in the event of training accidents or other out-of-cage injuries.
One now-defunct promotion, International Fight League, briefly paid contractees a monthly living stipend, but quickly ran into financial troubles and went out of business.
Matching UFC fighters’ wages would be expensive. Bloody Elbow’s John Nash reported that, by using UFC parent company Endeavor’s revenue figures, a benefactor would need to come up with between $164. 36 million to $184. 27 million to cover fighter compensation in 2021.