Should fighters stay out of the business side of MMA? Good question, let’s ask Dana White.
Sam Caplan pulled out another quote from Dana’s interview with David Carmichael regarding Urijah Faber. What’s interesting about this quote is what he says about fighters trying to be businessmen.
“… A lot of these guys, what happens is they jump into the sport. And they start to get big and get some wins and they start turning into businessmen and focusing on things that they shouldn’t be focused on. What fighters should focus on is fighting. Focus on fighting (and) keep it going and all of the other stuff will come to you. When they’re out there chasing (and) trying to start all of these different businesses and spin off all this stuff, it’s too much. It’s just too much for just the guys who just business to do business let alone being a fighter. Being a fighter requires a 150 percent of your time.”
Dana’s right to a point. Fighters should be focused on fighting, but if a fighter wants to think about opening up a gym or starting a clothing line to set themselves up for their lives after fighting, I don’t see a problem with that, although that’s not the point here. Where a fighter shouldn’t be a “businessman,” however, is when it comes to negotiating their fighting contracts, endorsement deals, merchandising agreements, etc. That’s what qualified agents and managers are for. They’re lawyers. Contracts are their job. The fighters put their trust in their representation to look out for their best interests and obtain the best deal.
Surely, since Dana thinks fighters should solely focus on fighting, he doesn’t think they should be “businessmen” when it comes to contract negotiations, does he?
Well, if not, he sure fooled me. Nearly every time there’s a contract dispute with a fighter, Dana White has blamed the agents and managers for filling the fighter’s head with crazy dreams and empty promises. While that may be true in some situations, Dana just blasted the AKA management team for essentially advising their clients not to sign a heavily one-sided agreement that was in anything but the fighters’ best interests, thus resulting in the UFC blacklisting AKA. So once again, it’s management’s fault, not the fighters’, we get it.
But then he tells us that AKA fighter Mike Swick went around his management and personally called White to tell him he doesn’t care what’s going on, he’s in business with the UFC, “you guys are my partners.” Dana replies, “I appreciate that, Mike, we look at you the same way.” Now obviously if Swick is going straight to White to work things out, he’s going to be signing whatever the UFC wants him to sign without AKA management representing him. And let’s not forget about what White said about Jon Fitch to USA Today.
But if Fitch called me today, if Fitch called me right now and said, “Dana, listen, I don’t know what happened with my managers … but I want to work this out with you,” I’d work it out with Fitch in two seconds.
So, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t contract negotiations (if you can even call it a negotiation) would fall under the label “business” as opposed to “fighting?” Dana’s not suggesting that Jon Fitch engage in a “business” activity, is he? I mean he did just say fighters should only fight.
Assuming that is true, then isn’t Dana basically saying fighters should quit trying to be businessmen unless they’re trying to do business directly with the UFC?
That’s what it looks like to me, of course, if you’ve been following the “other” side of the UFC for long enough, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard that.