One of the biggest ongoing issues in the UFC is the lack of a union for the fighters. They are considered independent contractors and currently aren't eligible to be in a union. A lot of fighters have been vocal in their complaints because of year-round drug testing by USADA, low-pay and restrictions that have been placed on them including wearing Reebok apparel all throughout fight week.
Efforts have been made in the past to form a union. In 2016, the Professional Fighters Association was launched led by baseball agent Jeff Borris and the MMA Athletes Association led by the likes of former UFC champions Cain Velasquez and Georges St-Pierre quickly faded into the night.
Recently, UFC women's strawweight fighter Leslie Smith formed Project Spearhead. The organization will be led by the fighters. It currently has UFC lightweights Kajan Johnson and Al Iaquinta on the board of directors. If authorization cards are signed by 30 percent of the UFC roster then the National Labor Relations Board will determine whether UFC fighters shall be considered employees or independent contractors.
But, will this group be different? One former UFC fighter thinks it could happen.
Brendan Schaub fought in the UFC from 2009 until he retired in October 2015. The former heavyweight went 6-5 in the organization and was a finalist on season 10 of "The Ultimate Fighter". The current comedian and podcaster gets more agitated as he speaks because he feels people have put the blame on the UFC for the complaints launched by the fighters when it is the combatants who need to look in the mirror.
"It’s possible but I’m sick of this," Schaub told Fightful.com recently. "It’s definitely possible. It’s not a Dana White issue. It’s not a UFC issue. It’s a fighters issue. All of them would have to come together. I mean all of them. That includes fighters like Conor (McGregor), Brock (Lesnar), Stipe (Miocic) and (Cris) ‘Cyborg’. All of them would have to come together and say, ‘We aren’t fighting until this gets done’.
"Whose fault is that? It’s not Dana White’s or the UFC’s job to get these guys together and make sure they have their s--t together. It’s on them. So, if you complain about the Reebok deal and your pay, then do something about it."
Those aforementioned fighters are some of the highest paid in the sport. It would be easy for them not to saying anything since they are already getting taken care of by the company. Schaub thinks until they say something and band the roster together, things will continue to be the same and change will never happen.
"The problem is that the guys who are getting paid aren’t saying s--t because they are at home sitting on satin sheets," Schaub said. "Don’t give me that. Until all you guys get together then that’s your issue. The lawyers can come along, Mark Cuban can come along. At the end of the day, all the fighters have to come together as one and make it happen."
You can see our full interview with Brendan Schaub above.