Why I think Fedor's contract negotiations are a good thing

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9/3/07 6:10:04AM
We're reaching a new era in MMA where most of the top dogs now belong to one organization and that organization only. Ask around where the best fighters are fighting at and everyone will tell you- the UFC. Compare it to Arena Football and NFL football if you need to. Both are big organizations doing almost the same thing, and yet the competition on the NFL level is unanimously thought of as the cream of the crop. To play in another organization is to admit you are a lower caliber player than those playing in the NFL.

It is starting to get to the point where fighting in any other organization is a joke. People will tell you about Fedor- "If he doesn't fight in the UFC, he is coming off of my number 1 HW spot" There is no doubt that to the average well educated MMA fan Fedor is the top dog in the sport. Almost every other top dog has been signed by the UFC already and with Pride gone in the near future there are no organizations coming up with better fighters.

What that translates into is the fighters losing their bargaining power. If all the grocery stores in the world were owned by one company they could charge whatever the hell they wanted for canned corn because you, the customer, have no other options. It's called a monopoly, and it is illegal in our American society. I see Fedor as one of the last standing great fighters able to make a difference in a horrible pattern already being presented by the UFC. The pattern is fighters being underpaid (compared to other professional athletes, even though they are most probably twice the athlete), locked into a contract with little give, and forced to operate completely under the strict rules imposed on them by their parent company. You could also call it a monarchy in which Dana White is king.

Fedor stands as one of the last freedom fighters. The William Wallace standing up for what is right. Making demands because he has the leverage to make those demands. Not succumbing to the evil King Dana because "if you don't, you won't be considered the best anymore" because to a person like Fedor, it is more important to get his "bread and butter" than to reap the fields all day long just to hand it over to the King's coffers. That is called capitalism, and it is what we strive for in our economy. Where a man has the rights to reap his own rewards.

Fedor sets a precedent for other fighters by doing this. By empowering them through his own demonstrations of telling Zuffa "NO". The more the individual man stands up for his own rights and the less the peons fall to their knees and submit the better. I think Dana and Zuffa have the ability to unify the sport into something great. With b.s. standards elicited by Zuffa in the future we run the risk of strikes, fighter conservatism, and a messed up organization full of political strife that we all don't want to see.
9/3/07 8:38:24AM
I agree, though there are a lot of potentially great match ups for Fedor in UFC, which I see him winning all of (except bar Cro Cop), someone has the fight the Zuffa machine, before it engulfs MMA completely. If Zuffa completley monopolizes the big time MMA game, in the way that WWF absorbed its major competitors, ECW and WCW, and then ran into trouble like Pride did, the fans will suffer. There is only one big league, and it collapses, then that would suck majorly.

Unfortunately, I don't think that Fedor's rebellious attitude to negotiations ("More money, more Sambo!") will stop the UFC machine, but Fedor certainly makes a point. Monopoly is bad crack, and Zuffa do seem intent on engulfing the mainstream MMA scene. They are already by far the most popular and well known MMA organisation, hell they wouldnt even let their overseas competitor Pride stay afloat, even though UFC is not popular in Japan and Asia, and Pride was very popular. No matter what Dana says, Pride could have been saved. He comes out with excuses about how hard business is to do in Japan, but never elaborates, simply because imo, if Zuffa wanted Pride to stay alive, they could have well done it, and in years to come would have reaped the benefits. However, they didn't want that to happen, they wanted all the big names under the UFC banner, so they let it die and then hoovered up the talent. I'm glad that at the very least they bought the fighters, because Pride was on the way out, make no mistake Pride was going under, but it wasn't (at that point) doomed.

At least now, as a fan in 2007, we get to see some great match ups, but the consequences of Zuffa's actions and their expansive power in MMA will not be felt for a while yet. 2007 is a great year for MMA fans, but how will things look in 2017?

Just thought I should clarify; in no way am I bashing UFC or Zuffa here, I'm just stating my interpretation of events surrounding Pride's demise, and looking at what might happen to MMA if Zuffa continues to be the Titan on the mainstream.
9/3/07 9:16:35AM
This what I (and many others) feared the most with the PRIDE aquisition. Dana has the fighters by the short and curlies. Crap cards (see UFC 72) are another issue, but that's a whole other topic.

Fedor's team said they are being offered great $$$ but don't agree with the other stuff.

Good for them, and good for Fedor. Props to TS for the great post
9/3/07 9:36:26AM
Not sure I agree on every point, but good post.
9/3/07 4:13:12PM
I disagree. Nobody is telling these fighters they have to fight for the UFC. The UFC doesent go around with a gun saying YOu have to Fight with us or nobody at all.

It's just that if you want the most recognition and the best ability to do well for yourself financially, your best bet is The UFC. The mainstream recognized organization. The marketing genius UFC. Yada Yada Yada.

Now with guys like Cuban who in my opinion has done well with his MMA events on HDNET, who knows? Maybe the playing field will be a little more competitive if someone like him puts some real $$$$ into an alternate organization with good fighters.

Fedor should go to The UFC. Why? Because all the worlds best HW's right now pretty much are all there, at least arguably the top 5 or so. Same with the LHWs etc.

I understand why he isnt jumping at the chance, but what I hope Fedor realizes is that windows close very fast in the fight game. IF he keeps hesitating, his window of being able to still compete at a high level will close. His window of major organizations wanting to sign big $$$ contracts for him will close. And I hope Fedor isnt gonna end up regretting that he shouldve made the $$$ when he had the opportunity. I hope he signs with somebody soon for the sake of his legend and of course the stability $$$ of he and his family.
9/3/07 10:33:44PM
Go Fedor. I think he is waiting until the combat sambo WC is over so he can say farewell to the sport. Then he will join the UFC and destroy the division.
9/4/07 1:56:58AM
the monopoly point is a good one but I'd still rather see a monopoly with all of the best fighters than see them split up between a bunch of different organizations personally.
9/4/07 9:21:31AM
To be perfectly honest, Fedor is shopping the market for the best possible deal. He's working it like a free agent should. The only difference is that he wants some other things besides monetary compensation for his fights. That's the biggest demand on the list, everything past the money. So why are fans up in arms over it? NFL players do the same thing when training camp comes around, they holdout until a contract is negotiated to their terms, otherwise another team can come in and offer them what they want. Fedor is using the other organizations as leverage, but the UFC is the biggest organization. It's a battle at the table.

I say its good that at least one fighter is stepping up to the plate and following through with his demands. A lot of TUF fighters got horrible contracts, a lot of UFC veterans got horrible contracts. Granted, Fedor would most likely have gotten a great contract regardless, I think he wants a bit of freedom to do what he wants and return home to fight there as well in front of his homeland.

Fact is, non-exclusivity is the biggest issue on that negotiation. Dana White said back when they took over PRIDE that they don't do non-exclusive contracts. It'll be interesting to see if White actually stands stiff on that point or gives in. I think if he gives in, we may see some foreign fighters try to obtain the same thing.
9/4/07 11:11:48AM

Posted by Aether

the monopoly point is a good one[...]

Actually, it's not. The NFL does not have a monopoly on American football, for instance. It has competitors that force it to pay it's players and staff a high salary, and that force it to charge its customers a price they'll pay. It's clearly the "winner" amongst all of the competing football organizations, as it's the top-level league for American football.

The UFC appears to be asserting itself as the premiere MMA organization, but it isn't the only MMA organization.

Another place where comparison with the pro sports leagues breaks down is that the UFC isn't a league, it's a single business entity. Pro baseball players, for instance, can negotiate with as many of the 30 teams as they wish, and take the contract offer that best suits their needs.

In terms of economics, the UFC is "the NY Yankees of MMA", but they aren't "the Major League Baseball of MMA." (Another reason the NFL analogy doesn't work is that the teams in the NFL have all sorts of collective agreements, salary caps and so forth, that Major League Baseball does not.)
9/4/07 12:13:19PM
While capitalism is best, it's not perfect, hence the near monopoly.

The players could also form a union - to protect themselves and demand fair wages. This too would suck, I think, in the long run.

One side of me cheers for Fedor to hold out and get what he wants. The other side cheers for Zuffa for taking MMA to the next level.
9/4/07 6:08:46PM
regardless of if the comparison is flawed the point about the UFC moving towards a monopoly being a bad thing is still a good point. I could care less about the football analogy, the krux of what he's saying is that the UFC has little to no competition which badly limits bargaining power of free agents. There may be other leagues but they can essentially compete with the UFC on the same level that a mom and pop store can compete with Wal-Mart. Other than possibly Hero's for the lighter divisions.
9/4/07 6:23:35PM
^^ I think you've got me right in what I'm trying to say there, Aether. Achilles Heel is right, though.

Maybe NFL was a bad comparison and I should have put a little more thought into it, but I was just flowing the words out and that's what came. The jist is plain enough to see, though.

As for a monopoly I'm not speaking entirely in monetary formats. Look at what everyone else on these boards has already said. It's clear as day that the UFC has a competition monopoly in the sense that while another org may be able to pay more money for a contract, they can't provide the same level of competition. To a fighter I'm pretty sure we all know how important that is. I think Dana, or at least the fans, are leveraging Fedor's #1 HW spot against him in this format.
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