Former UFC fighter Leslie Smith’s complaint filed against the UFC was recently dismissed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The fighter and attorney Lucas Middlebrook had a set amount of time to appeal the ruling, which is exactly what they have done.
NLRB Region 4 Regional Director Dennis P. Walsh stated that Smith’s case was dismissed because it wasn’t the boards job to second guess the UFC’s decision making in regard to her contract.
“These decisions undermine Smith’s assertions that the UFC harbored animus against her for her protected activities,” Walsh wrote in the written decision released by the NLRB. “Finally, the investigation disclosed that negotiations broke down over the public manner in which Smith conducted negotiations with demands asking for up to a 222 percent increase over her then-current contract. It is not the proper role of the board, in the absence of evidence pointing to animus or pretext, to second-guess UFC’s business decisions not to continue to negotiate or renew Smith’s contract in response to these kinds of demands.”
A still free agent Smith was supposed to fight Aspen Ladd at UFC Fight Night Atlantic City, but Ladd came in overweight for the bout and Smith turned down the opportunity to fight her at catchweight. Once it was clear Smith wasn’t fighting Ladd, a decision was made by the UFC brass to buy out the rest of Smith’s contract and the fighters time with the UFC came to an end.
The former UFC fighter is stating that the fight against the UFC is not over and she will push on with the battle.
“We’re going to keep on pushing,” Smith said to MMA Junkie. “My goal for the case is they will find us to be statutory employees, so we can get everybody on board to sign cards. Because whether or not I win, it’s not really going to affect everybody else. This isn’t even a lawsuit; it’s not like there’s even money in it for me. For me, it’s about getting the UFC to admit we’re employees, or getting a federal office like the NLRB to confirm we are employees, so the fighters can take the next step to enjoying some of the basic protections that employees have enjoyed in the U.S. for 80 or 90 years now.”
Smith also serves as the interim president for Project Spearhead, which is an organization that is attempting to unionize UFC fighters.