Document: Professional Fighters Association's goals include experience-based pensions, minimum $25k/$25k purses, monthly rehab stipend (2024)

The Professional Fighters Association has a bold vision for the future of professional MMA fighters, according to a document obtained by MMAjunkie.

The association, launched in August with expressed intentions to “represent the collective interests of the fighters employed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship,” wants to give MMA professionals a minimum fight purse, insurance, an experience-based pension, and monthly money if they are medically suspended. The document, entitled “Top 10 PFA Goals,” offers hard numbers on several benefits.

The association’s goals include:

1) An increase in base pay, with all fighters receiving a minimum of $25,000 to show and $25,000 to win. (Currently, the UFC offers unknown newcomers around half that, and Bellator far less.)

2) Comprehensive health insurance for a fighter and his or her family. (The UFC, by contrast, offers only accident insurance that often come with high deductibles.)

3) An experience-based pension system. With 20 octagon appearances, a fighter becomes eligible to receive $75,000 a year – for life – beginning at age 65. That figure goes up to $150,000 a year with 30 fights inside the UFC cage. Make it to the UFC’s Hall of Fame, and you receive $100,000 a year.

4) A drug policy with a “mutually agreed upon testing procedure,” penalties, specific drugs tested, and an “equitable appeal and resolution process.” (So far, the UFC is the only promoter with a comprehensive drug testing program, contracting with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for year-round testing and results management.)

5) A procedure for resolving disputes between the promoter and fighters that involves an independent arbitrator.

6) A share of revenue, including a share of the ticket sales, TV and pay-per-view money, and merchandise. (Top UFC earners get a share of pay-per-view money, and the promotion’s standard contract promises “10 percent of gross revenues generated from ‘commercial exploitation’ of ‘licensed merchandise.'”)

7) Agreed upon weight classes.

8) A ranking system independent of the UFC that determines fighter matchups. (The UFC employees media-generated rankings and frequently departs from its order to make sought-after fights.)

9) A “fighter board” that evaluates officials, presumably to weed out poor performersin judging and refereeing.

10) A “rehab allowance” that provides medically suspended fighters a $2,000 monthly stipend to support themselves while injured.

Attorney and PFA representative Lucas Middlebrook declined to comment on the document and said “this week will tell” when asked to verify its authenticity.

Also revealed to MMAjunkie was a list of fighters who PFA reps are currently targeting for participation but “haven’t said they’re 100 percent in” just yet. They include: Leslie Smith, Kajan Johnson, Al Iaquinta, Donald Cerrone, Paige VanZant, Anthony Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Nick Diaz, Urijah Faber, Tim Kennedy and Gilbert Melendez.

The PFA, which is headed by baseball super-agent Jeff Borris, has the immediate goal of signing on 30 percent of UFC fighters to hold an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Then it wants a “yes” vote from the majority to allow the RFA to collectively bargain on their behalf.

Because fighters are classified as independent contractors rather than employees, and thus are unable to unionize, the PFA sits in a gray area until that status is challenged in court.

If successful in convincing UFC fighters to unionize, however, the association will by default become a major force in the sport.

The PFA’s minimum salary requirements alone could have a significant impact on the promotion. At the blockbuster UFC 202, which the PFA targeted as a prime recruitment opportunity, minimum payouts would have upped the event’s reported payout ($6,106,000) by about $200,000, or the cost of four $50,000 performance bonuses given out on fight nights.

Carving up the event’s reported $7.6 million gate, 1.6 million pay-per-view buys and merchandise sales would mean a much bigger payday for all the combatants.

While events shown on FS1 or UFC Fight Pass typically don’t generate big numbers at the box office, the entry-level and mid-card fighters would benefit hugely. Eighteen of the 24 fighters on this past month’s UFC Fight Night 96 received less than a minimum of $25,000 to show and win, which would up event’s reported payroll from $737,000 to $1,044,000.

The effect of the PFA’s pension requirements would affect dozens of fighters. While no UFC contractee has yet reached 30 octagon bouts, highly active stars such as Cerrone, Diego Sanchez, Demian Maia, Jim Miller and Nate Diaz would all qualify to make a $75,000 per year beginning at age 65.

Meanwhile, UFC Hall of Famers Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and B.J. Penn would each qualify for $175,000 per year beginning at age 65.

The PFA claims UFC fighters are earning only 15 percent of the UFC’s revenue and hopes to negotiate a split that more closely resembles other major sporting leagues. They’re not the only organization trying to organize fighters in a sport dominated by one promoter. But the association may have the most ambitious goals for the talent they seek to represent.

UFC officials declined to comment on the document.

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.

Document: Professional Fighters Association's goals include experience-based pensions, minimum $25k/$25k purses, monthly rehab stipend (2024)


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