Kevin Lee: An MMA Union Is “Inevitable”
As big as the sport of MMA has become, there hasn’t been anything close to a fighters union. Leslie Smith has attempted to get things going with Project Spearhead, while Donald Cerrone and Georges St-Pierre dabbled with the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. Kevin Lee believes there is still a chance a union happens.
“I think it’s inevitable,” Lee said on the Joe Rogan Experience, via MMA Fighting. “Eventually it’s gonna happen. I think it’s once the UFC, the UFC is gonna change a little bit I feel like. It’s the same way I’m looking at the way Facebook has been doing stuff and all these other companies, these large private companies but they’re so big.”
Since getting sold to WME-IMG for over $4 billion dollars in 2017, the UFC has gone through some drastic changes. They have a deal with ESPN and have gained plenty of revenue from big events. Fighters, however, do not have that much power with their own contracts. Lee (17-5) sees how big the promotion has become, and believes others have as well.
“The UFC is a sports organization but it’s so big now to where it’s damn near public,” Lee continued. “Once that kind of changes and once they open up the books and people really start to pay attention to it, then maybe somebody on the outside who is way smarter than anyone of us – because we’re fighting, we ain’t really worried about the legalities of it. I’m just signing a contract, I don’t really give a f*ck. But once somebody who is smarter kind of takes a look at it and sees what’s going on and how it is, then they’re gonna start up something. They have to. It’s kind of crazy.”
Lee brought up fair weight systems, contract discussions and the monetary value of some fighters. For years, fighters have been fighting for all of these topics but to no avail. If the UFC wouldn’t adopt the idea of a union first, other organizations may very well be interested.
Currently, Leslie Smith is planning legal action against the UFC, believing they are promoting a system against unions. As of now, no further progress has been made regarding unions in MMA.