The movement for improved contractual conditions in MMA’s leading promotion has certainly picked up the pace this year, and at the forefront of it have been two prominent names in the combat sports landscape.
First is Ngannou, a UFC titleholder who’s long expressed his disdain for elements of employment with the sport’s leader, from the inability to wear sponsors on fight kit and compete elsewhere to the ever-polarizing fighter pay debate.
More surprisingly, Paul has taken the ball and ran with it since beginning his professional pugilism career. The former Disney star has consistently lambasted Dana White and the UFC, slamming the lack of healthcare granted to athletes on the roster and the remuneration structure at both ends of the ladder.
More than just words, though, Paul appears hopeful of turning talk into action by forming a much-discussed fighter union. Following his latest success in the ring, “The Problem Child” appeared to step up the pace for the creation of the United Fighters Association (UFA).
While Paul and Ngannou both share the same sentiment regarding the perceived contractual issues in the UFC, they haven’t seen eye-to-eye regarding the solution.
With that, the 6-0 boxer sought to explain his union goals to Ngannou earlier this year, outlining the plan for every fighter to refuse to compete should the promotion react by shelving those athletes who join.
Ngannou, however, isn’t buying it.
Ngannou Doesn’t “Believe” Paul’s Strategy Will Work
In a recent interview with Combate, the reigning heavyweight king discussed the increasing talk of a union, which has certainly split views among fighters. While Georges St-Pierre recently expressed interest in joining Paul’s union, Julianna Peña has shared her doubts on the plausibility of such a creation.
While Ngannou has always been complimentary and supportive of Paul’s public campaign for contractual improvements, “The Predator” doesn’t believe the plan for a union will be successful.
“It’s very difficult. As two popular names, yes (it can help to have a union of fighters). But how are you going to do this union? Are you going to pay the fighters and tell them not to fight? How exactly will it work? Many of these fighters have no money,” Ngannou said. “They are waiting for the next fight to be paid, to pay their houses, pay off their bills, and will you tell them not to fight for the union? I can’t believe they’ll do that. Not because they don’t want to, but because they have no choice.
“This is the problem. The problem here is that many fighters do not have an option. When you go to the NFL and NBA, it’s easy for them to make a union because even their training partner is earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but in MMA, it’s completely different,” Ngannou added. “Some people live from receiving one payment after another, so it will be difficult.”
The Cameroonian did, however, note that he’s still committed to searching for a workable way to form a union. But he knows that won’t be a simple task.
“The system is very sad. But I’m not giving up on the hope of a union,” Ngannou asserted. “I hope it will be something that will happen, so that fighters can have better benefits at work and have good protection for themselves. It’s what I want and what I want, but I know it won’t be easy – analyzed.”
Do you agree with Francis Ngannou? Is Jake Paul’s plan for a fighter union flawed?
All Quotes By Combate.