It’s an interesting time to be a free agent in MMA. There’s a lot of perspective that comes with the options that I’m currently weighing.
Right now, it’s just a waiting game, tending offers from several suitors. And while I hope to finalize my decision in the next couple of weeks, free agency has definitely shown me that we need more rights as fighters.
I’m just not sure about this new #MMAAA union or association.
As a guy who’s always gone above and beyond to do things above board and the right way (I even moved to Kentucky for a year because, at the time, it was the only place that had regulated amateur MMA fights), I have a lot of thoughts on how a union or association can benefit fighters. I just don’t get why the MMAAA has specifically targeted only UFC fighters. That’s like saying the Dallas Cowboys can have a union, but no other football teams.
Thinking about my experience as a fighter, in organizations like the UFC and Strikeforce, I feel like there aren’t enough advocates for us, the fighters, the guys who make this sport what it is. And my frustrations aren’t even directed at the promotions.
Back in 2012, when I was still fighting at light heavyweight, I suffered the only stoppage loss of my MMA career, against “King Mo” Lawal. It was also the first time I lost a fight. Except I didn’t actually lose at all.
Shortly after the fight, it was revealed that “King Mo” popped for steroids and the loss was overturned, eventually ruled a “No Contest.” Mo needed performance enhancing drugs to stop me -- turns out that’s the only way to finish me.
But all of this was way before #USADA and the strict regulations we have now.
Of course, it was terrible to lose that fight, even worse to know that I was in there with a guy who was cheating. But what I never understood was why the athletic commission pocketed $60,000 from “King Mo,” when I was the one who went in there and exchanged punches with him. I mean, I only earned my show money and fought a guy on PEDs, why was I not compensated for such an occupational hazard?
I felt the same way when I heard about Mark Hunt’s loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200. Lesnar popped for steroids, Mark Hunt did the dirty work, and the commission stands to take home some extra cash? I just don’t see how that’s right, and these are some of the things that a potential union needs to add to their agenda on fighter rights.
You can also add the penalties for failed weight cuts as well.
Kelvin Gastelum is fighting this weekend at UFC 206, this time at middleweight. But during those times he missed weight, why was the athletic commission taking half of the penalty? It never really made sense to me, and I think it’s probably something that most MMA fans and people outside the fight game don’t know.
Of course, these are the risks we’ve chosen as fighters, but as a free agent, who’s able to see things a bit differently at the moment, I think if there’s going to be some big changes, let’s make sure to address all the important issues.
This is already a great sport, but there are always ways to improve the landscape for the fighters.