NBA player Michael Carter-Williams talks about the importance of a union for UFC fighters.
In November 2016, the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA) was established, aiming to improve fighter compensation and benefits, among others. It was comprised of big names in the industry, such as Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez, T.J. Dillashaw, and former Bellator chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney, just to name a few.
But as of late, the group has been silent, with its future and visions hanging in the balance. Fighters are once again lacking the support of a union to champion their cause for better benefits, and for other athletes, this could be a big problem.
Five-year NBA veteran Michael Carter-Williams, for one, is baffled about the non-existence of a fighter’s union, and this, for him, could be the main reason for the continued grievances about salary.
“They absolutely should. I think it’s crazy that they already don’t have a union,” Carter-Williams said Monday on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “And I know it’s hard, but come on, they put their lives on the line every time they step in the ring. There’s no reason why their payouts are [what] they are now. And it’s because they don’t have a union.”
Carter-Williams is a member of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the union for current players in the NBA. Established in 1954, the NBPA has been fighting for better player benefits, which led to four lockouts since 1995. Since then, NBA players are more satisfied with what they have been getting.
For Carter-Williams, some UFC stars like Conor McGregor and the Diaz brothers may also need to go on strike like how NBA players did during league lockouts, in order for everyone else the roster to be compensated better.
“Dominick (Cruz) and I were talking about it, and I was like, ‘How don’t you guys have a good enough union to where you guys don’t have health insurance or you guys don’t get paid more?’” Carter-Williams said. “To me, that’s beyond crazy, and it is — it’s going to need to take the top guys of the UFC to not fight until the payments are what they should be, and [the benefits] are where they should be.”
“It’s going to take the Conor McGregors, it’s going to take the Diazes, it’s going to take the Stipes. It’s going to take those guys to hold out so that everybody else can get what they deserve.”