Jun 7, 2014; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Rafael Dos Anjos (red) celebrates his victory over Jason High (blue) after their lightweight bout during UFC Fight Night 42 at Tingley Coliseum. Dos Anjos won via second round stoppage. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Opinion: UFC Fighters Need to Form A Union–Part 1


Jason “The Kansas City Bandit” High is being used as a sacrificial lamb by Dana White and the UFC. All High did was push a referee, and was given a year suspension by the New Mexico State Athletic Commission for this outburst. This was on top of a $1,900 fine (the only reasonable part of this ordeal) levied by the NMSAC, and an edict by Dana White declaring that High will never fight in the UFC again.

As I have pointed out previously– this punishment is not evenhanded; it is a complete overreaction; and is more likely than not a thinly veiled attempt to distract the viewer from the real issue of TRT and other performance enhancing drugs used by UFC fighters.

Dana White unilaterally blacklisting High from the UFC is a perfect example of why fighters need a collective bargaining agreement. In short— mixed martial artists need a union. A union would prevent Dana White from directing his knee-jerk reactions towards the fighters to whom he owes his career.

Currently, fighters are listed as independent contractors. In case you did not know it, these are the same kinds of contracts that strippers operate under. The fighters (and strippers) do not work for the company, they just do work for the company, and if they cross the boss– the boss can pull the rug out from under them for any reason– real or imagined.

Everytime a baseball or football player gets nailed for an infraction, they do not have to beg for mercy before an athletic commission…

Think back to when Gerald Harris was on a three fight UFC win streak. Harris had a lackluster performance against Maiquel Falcão at UFC 123. Harris lost the fight by decision, and was subsequently given his walking papers by Dana White. Dana White did not seem to care that Harris had finished his last three opponents, with his highlight reel slam knockout of David Branch embedded in many of our brains.

Dana White must be a “what have you done for me lately” kind of guy, as that is the only way to explain his cutting of Gerald Harris from the promotion. Unless Harris had crossed White at some point. We can only speculate. Either way, a union would have prevented such an irrational decision.

It is also not fair that fighters are also subject to the whims of the local athletic commission. As Sean Sherk will attest in his battle with the California State Athletic Commission– dealing with the athletic commission is not easy. Everytime a baseball or football player gets nailed for an infraction, they do not have to beg for mercy before an athletic commission. So why should mixed martial artists?

No, the union has their back, and the athlete gets to keep making money. Instead, Jason High will need to figure out a different way to make money for the next year.

I happen to know a little something about union activity. In the real world I was a greivance steward with AFSCME in Oregon, and had to sit in on some really ridiculous cases of employees screwing up. Union critics will say that a union only protects bad employees from well meaning employers. However,I would counter that unions protect good employees from overzealous employers. This arguement is most applicable in the case of Gerald Harris.

On the other hand, critics will assert Jason High is not a good employee, and that he got what he deserved. Then why didn’t Tito Ortiz get the same treatment when he pushed the referee after being stopped by Chuck Liddell at UFC 47? What would happen if Jon Jones had pushed a referee? I think Dana White would attempt to explain the situation away with things like “Yeah, Jones (explitive) up bigtime. You never ever (explitive) touch a ref. But he is really sorry, and it will never happen. He lost his cool. These are fighters; they are intense.”

Likely Jones would only be fined, and perhaps serve a short suspension. Is taking the bread out a fighter’s mouth for a year for making minor contact with an official reasonable? I think not.

Of course, this is only conjecture. However, it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Dana White will go out of his way to turn a blind eye to cash cows like Ortiz, and not have any trouble letting go journeyman type fighters such as Jason High.

Am I wrong? Do you hate unions? Do you live in a right to work state? I am a current AFSCME union member, as well as a former steward, and will be happy to field any questions you might have regarding unions in the comments section below, as well as sending a tweet to @mikefansided!

Tags: Dana White Jason High MMA UFC