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By Zach Arnold | November 30, 2016
The realization of a Donald J. Trump presidency has set in for proponents of reforming the MMA business.
The season of Trump means death to the Ali Act. There are 30 days left to try to pass an Ali Act during the Congressional lame duck session. Highly unlikely, especially with Trump appointing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife to the Department of Transportation.
With no Ali Act to fight for, Rob Maysey’s anti-trust lawsuit may lead to a result that attorneys dread: mootness. Rob’s biggest fear is fighters unionizing in order to establish a Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would (in essence) nuke the anti-trust route and close the door permanently on amending the Ali Act for MMA.
Ari Emanuel’s blood rivals, Hollywood powerhouse agency CAA, are throwing down the gauntlet with their (un)official support of Dana White nemesis Bjorn Rebney by organizing a group called the MMA Athletes Association. This group potentially has the muscle that PFA, the attempted group by sports agent Jeff Borris, does not.
Interestingly, Bjorn Rebney says this new Association will not be a union. Which means this will be a competing venture against Maysey and Borris. Most intriguingly, former Bellator employee Zach Light is with the new Association. He sued Bellator for wrongful termination and they sued him back. That fight is ongoing in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Which brings us to this question: what is the value of an Association if the Ali Act isn’t going to be amended for MMA in order to establish legal rights for fighters for freer movement & a private right to sue to get out of an adhesive contract?
@mikedyce If they don't want NLRB certification then no but if you withhold services (strike) w/o that – subject to anti-trust violations
— Lucas Middlebrook (@lkmiddleb) November 30, 2016
Vulture capitalism primed the conditions for organizing fighters
We knew that Ari Emanuel would hollow out UFC in order to launch an IPO or flip the venture Bain Capital-style. Our concern is that the hollowing out process could result in more of a Cumulus dumpster fire.
Consider the following developments over the last week:
- Rumors of WME-IMG wanting $450 million USD a year for UFC TV rights
- Rumors that as part of the $450M/yr deal that UFC’s video library/Fight Pass could be licensed or sold altogether
- Rumors that WME-IMG could give up in-house production of UFC and offload it to the highest bidder
- Rumors of WME willing to give the highest bidder a % of PPV buys and ditching “hype men” like Joe Rogan & Mike Goldberg
- ESPN, one of the likely possible landing destinations for a UFC TV package of sorts, has reportedly lost 1.2 million households in the last two months and is in a death spiral
- UFC stripping Conor McGregor of the featherweight title and creating yet another interim title belt
In none of these developments do you see any benefit whatsoever for fighters. More and more fighters are publicly voicing their displeasure about comp tickets, show money, canceled fights, and issues with drug testing.
Once Lorenzo Fertitta got out and an official price tag was slapped on the UFC, the dam broke. Before Trump takes office in late January, there will be a mad rush for organizing fighters & filing lawsuits. Once Trump hits DC, everything changes — no more Ali Act, a change in the composition of the National Labor Relations Board, and UFC ownership having a direct phone line to the White House.