Jacob Volkmann and Jon Fitch Talk Fighter’s Union As WSOF Debuts Near
By Kelsey Mowatt
Jacob Volkmann and Jon Fitch were asked by World Series of Fighting to participate in a media call Thursday to promote their upcoming, June 14th debuts for the promotion, but not surprisingly, the vets spent a great deal of time discussing their views on the UFC. Volkmann has wasted no media opportunity recently to voice his displeasure with his former employer, by criticizing the promotion’s compensation model and supposed preference for strikers. The outspoken fighter has even discussed setting out to organize fighters, and seized the opportunity yesterday to get Fitch’s thoughts on the matter.
When asked by Volkmann if he’s interested in starting a fighter’s union in an effort to get fighters “a little better pay and a little more leverage in their contract”, Fitch responded:
“That’s something I’ve been talking about a lot lately,” said Fitch, who went 14-3-1 during his run with the UFC, and was released following his decision loss to Demian Maia earlier this year. “I wouldn’t go after the pay necessarily, but there are some things I would go after right away, just giving fighters a voice.”
“We don’t get a say in rules, and we don’t get a say in TRT use or marijuana use,” the 35 year-old vet added. “The commissions decide; everything’s up to the promoters and commissions. The fighters need a voice somewhere.”
Volkmann’s calls for action have come at a time when fellow Octagon vet John Cholish has voiced similar sentiments, after he retired from the sport recently and cited a lack of compensation as a reason. The terms in Bellator’s contracts have also been scrutinized by certain observers as of late.
“I would change the contract so it’s not a four fight contract and you can get cut after one fight,” said Volkmann, who was released by the UFC following his submission loss to Bobby Green this past February. “I would make it a two year contract minimum; a minimum of two fights per year, and a minimum of pay. I would definitely change the minimum so that it would be around $15,000 per fight. So that at least you get paid $30,000 (per year).
“I think they can afford it. They have big pockets; everyone knows they have big pockets,” the 32 year-old furthered about the ZUFFA owned UFC. “They’re buying up Strikeforce and they’re buying up all their competitors and trying to bully them out. It would help competitors survive if the UFC had to focus on paying their fighters better.”
Although there haven’t been many active fighters discuss the possibility of organizing and bringing about some sort of action to represent their interests, the discussion is certainly nothing new. One of the main obstacles to the process, however, has always been how would fighters go about doing it? And what kind of body or organization could be assembled to ostensibly serve their needs?
Volkmann relayed that he has talked to “several NFL players” and that he plans on talking to the league’s player’s association in an effort to learn more about the organizing process. Fitch then added that it’s important to have support from other unionized workers, like those who work at events etc, as a means to garner more “power.”
The call, which eventually had to be redirected to focus on WSOF 3 rather than labor relations, also featured Fitch saying he felt like he was in a “hostile environment” during his time with the UFC. The former welterweight contender also praised his new employers for “working with me rather than against me.”
The comments were predictably conveyed to UFC President Dana White, who in a follow up report from MMA Junkie.com, argued Fitch was give plenty of opportunities during his time with the promotion. White also says the promotion gave Fitch approximately $300,000 in discretionary bonuses during his time with the UFC.
It will be interesting to see whether men like Cholish, Volkmann and Fitch will pursue a course of action regarding these issues, and whether their colleagues will support them.
WSOF 3 will be hosted by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on June 14th and will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network. Volkmann will fight lightweight Lyle Beerbohm and Fitch is scheduled to face fellow UFC vet Josh Burkman.