There are currently at least three efforts underway to organize fighters. The first was the Mixed Martial arts Fighters Association (MMAFA), founded by attorney Robert Maysey in 2009; it has broad goals across the sport at its professional level. The MMAFA is involved in anti-trust legislation against the UFC, and hopes among other goals to expand the Federal Law covering professional boxing, The Muhammad Ali Act, to MMA. It has a bill in committee what is expected to get voted on in the house 2017.
In August the formation of the Professional Fighters Association was announced. It is run by baseball agent Jeff Borris. Bjorn Rebney and CAA organized a group of five fighters who speak for the MMAAA. They seek to form a players association and then plan to petition the UFC for a 600% increase in the amount of revenue that goes to fighters.
One of the most capable individuals in mixed martial arts history, Urijah Faber, retired on Saturday. He would be a natural to help bring fighters together, or for that matter, bring fighters and the UFC management/owners together.
Faber appeared recently on MMAjunkie Radio and discussed the subject. Faber said he had been contacted by all three groups, but up until now had been too busy with his fighting career, fight gym, and other business interests to investigate the different groups.
“Three unions? C’mon,” said Faber, as transcribed by Steven Marrocco for MMAjunkie. “How are you going to have a union and have three friggin’ unions? I’m not super educated on it, but I would think there can’t be three unions if they’re going to work well, and if they’re actually trying to unify.”
“The biggest thing I know about Bjorn Rebney is his dad was the [Winnebago] guy.”
However, Faber was aware that one of the organizing forces behind the MMAAA is CAA, longtime rival to the new UFC owners WME-IMG.
“In the fight world, that’s like Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva at the prime of Chael talking about slapping Anderson’s wife on the ass,” he said. “And CAA’s behind this union; it’s their way of getting their hands on the MMA game, I feel like.”
“I would rather work with and build a relationship with the UFC brass and be somebody that can say, hey, if you guys don’t want to do a union or be part of a union, let’s talk about some things that could really help us out as fighters. I don’t think having three different groups trying to do a union is the answer. If we’re going to do a union, it has to be unified. It has to be one group, and we all have to come to the same conclusion. We have to work with the UFC and say OK, this is what we’re trying to do. I’d like to pick Dana’s brain and Ari Emanuel’s brain and say, ‘Hey, what’s the problem with having a union? Why wouldn’t you want it? Why would you want it? What are some of the good things that a union could do?’
“I don’t think these guys are unreasonable, and they want to take care of people. So I would work as a go-between. I think it makes better sense for good relationships to talk to organizations, and everybody work toward some better ideas.”
Faber even has some ties to WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel. Faber taught his son Jiu-Jitsu, and Emanuel was an accomplished folkstyle wrestler.
“I think there’s definitely a voice of reason that could reach that guy because I think he cares about the fighters, as well,” Faber said. “It has to be from the right heart, the right place, and with the right people. I’m going to research it because I definitely am going to be a part of this sport in a lot of different ways.”