The obstacles to UFC fighters’ unionisation

Published 26 August 2017 By: Jacob Debets

MMA fighters in smokey background

This article examines the prospect of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters forming a certified trade union and entering into collective bargaining with the UFC.

  • It first provides an overview of the UFC’s development from fringe spectacle to mainstream sport and the current economic relationship between the promotion and fighters.
  • It then provides a history of unionisation efforts, before assessing the legal obstacles fighters must overcome in order to get the UFC to the bargaining table.
  • It concludes with a discussion of the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act, [1] which would extend economic protections that apply to professional boxers to their counterparts in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA),[2] and is seen by many as a legislative alternative to labour organising.

 

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Author

Jacob Debets

Jacob Debets

Jacob is a freelance writer and recent JD graduate from Melbourne Law School. He will be commencing as a trainee lawyer in 2019 for Arnold Bloch Leibler, in their Workplace Advisory team. In the interim, he is working on a book analysing the economic relationship between the UFC and its athletes, as well as academic papers on the influence of technology on legal education, and the labour dimensions of the "gig economy". You can view more of his writing at jacobdebets.com.

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