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Professional Fighters Association formed to address balance of power in UFC

A new union for mixed martial arts fighters has been formed to represent the shared interests of competitors, with an initial focus on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The Professional Fighters Association (PFA) launched yesterday (Thursday), with the main aim of securing a more even distribution of revenue for fighters. “The Professional Fighters Association has been established to represent the collective interests of the fighters employed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship,” the PFA said in a statement.

“It is the goal of the PFA to organise these hard-working athletes so that they may collectively bargain their terms and conditions of employment pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The PFA will not only be a union of fighters, but it will be governed solely by fighters. It is the fighters who will control their own futures.”

The PFA will seek to replicate the success of similar unions that have been formed in other sports. It has already received backing from representatives of the players associations of the NBA basketball league, Major League Baseball, the NHL ice hockey league, Major League Soccer and the NFL American football league.

The PFA pointed to the unfair distribution of revenue in UFC as one of the reasons for forming the union. On its newly launched website, the PFA claims that UFC athletes receive only 15 per cent of the revenue generated by the promotion, with the rest going to the league itself. The PFA states that the NBA and NHL employ a 50-50 split, with players having a 43 per cent stake in MLB and 48 per cent in the NFL.

The UFC has long held the view that its athletes are independent of the organisation and not employees.

The PFA’s initial team includes MLB player agent Jeff Borris, lawyer Lucas Middlebrook and economist Andrew Zimbalist. The union added: “The scales have been tipped in favour of the UFC for too long. It is time for the fighters – the ones responsible for the UFC’s success – to receive their equal share.”

The formation of the union comes after the WME-IMG agency last month struck a deal worth approximately $4bn (€3.6bn) to acquire the UFC.