In U.F.C., Retirement Threats Are the Fighters’ Best Leverage

After dominating the light-heavyweight department for 10 years, Jon Jones is shifting as much as heavyweight. This is, if he doesn’t retire from the Final Preventing Championship first.

Jones tweeted closing week that he had had a good dialog with the U.F.C. about negotiating to transport up from the 205-pound department to heavyweight, the place combatants can weigh up to 265 kilos. However his optimism got here most effective hours after he stated he had vacated his light-heavyweight belt and could be taking part in the U.F.C. as a fan as a result of there were “no negotiating” about his wage.

It’s been that more or less summer time for the U.F.C., the place along with working out degree occasions in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, two of its greatest stars retired and two others brazenly regarded as it.

Henry Cejudo, who held belts in each the flyweight and bantamweight divisions, retired in Might however reputedly left the door open to go back if he have been paid extra, announcing the U.F.C. president, Dana White, “is aware of the quantity.” The U.F.C.’s best-known fighter, Conor McGregor, retired in June, for a minimum of the 3rd time. Jorge Masvidal additionally threatened to retire, prior to accepting a struggle on every week’s understand at U.F.C. 251 in July.

Possibly all 4 combatants began considering severely about retirement on the similar time. Much more likely, on the other hand, is that all of them identified the facility of retirement as a negotiating tactic. As a result of the lengthy, unique, ironclad contracts combatants should signal with the U.F.C., threatening retirement is without doubt one of the few leverage issues celebrity combatants have.

“The U.F.C.’s industry fashion, the genius of it, is that during battle sports activities you might be made through who you beat,” stated John Nash, who has coated the industry of blended martial arts for nearly a decade. “The one method you’ll change into a made man is thrashing guys who’re already in long-term contracts within the U.F.C., and the one method you get to struggle them is to signal a long-term contract.”

The U.F.C. didn’t make an govt to be had for an interview, and representatives for the combatants didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Whilst those aren’t the primary U.F.C. combatants to threaten retirement in the midst of negotiating a freelance, the sheer quantity suggests one thing has modified. The U.F.C. makes much more cash than it did a number of years in the past, particularly after securing a large new tv settlement with ESPN in 2018, and is now owned through a miles better company entity, Enterprise.

It knocks them down quickly, too. After a decisive loss to Kamaru Usman in July, it isn’t clear whether Masvidal can quickly challenge for a belt again. Ronda Rousey was one of the most famous athletes on the planet when she took her first two losses in 2015 and 2016, and then decided she had better career prospects in professional wrestling and in Hollywood.

The best chance for fighters to gain negotiating leverage to carve out longer and more lucrative careers is most likely a lawsuit that was filed against the U.F.C.’s parent company in 2014. The lawsuit accuses the company of having both an illegal monopoly and monopsony power, which is when a buyer of services — in this case, a buyer of mixed martial arts fighting services — faces little competition. While other mixed martial arts organizations exist, like Bellator, the U.F.C. has most of the world’s top fighters.

The federal judge overseeing the case is expected to rule soon on whether to grant it class-action status, which would make around 1,200 fighters claimants against the U.F.C. If granted, the fighters could win billions of dollars, as well as structural remedies like a ban on long-term contracts.

That would most likely tamp down the retirement talk within the sport.

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