clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

T.J. Dillashaw blows up on UFC, says fighters are treated like employees without benefits

New, comments
Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Much has, and will continue to, come out of mixed martial arts' (MMA) evolution under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner. After all, UFC is the premier MMA promotion in the world.

Over the past few years, UFC has not only restricted outside sponsorship with the partnership of Reebok, but it has taken full control of its athletes with the adoption of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Many high profile fighters have been caught violating USADA policy, such as Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones, but not all combat stars look at the promotional cleanse as a good thing.

In fact, some believe that UFC has put all of these programs in motion as if fighters were employees, not independently contracted athletes.

"They treat us like employees, but they don't give us benefits like employees," said former UFC Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw on a recent edition of Team Alpha Male's Stud Show Radio (h/t MMA Fighting). "It's kind of crazy when you think about it. We have to tell them where we're at at all times, so USADA can show up and drug test us. But we don't get health benefits. It's kind of crazy that we are controlled. Any time you have to tell work where you're at and what you're doing, that's considered an employee, not a contractor. They can't tell a subcontractor what to do and when to do it. So this whole drug-testing thing is kind of crazy and the way they're making us wear Reebok and all this stuff we have to do. They're treating us like employees, but not giving us the benefits of an employee."

Dillashaw has a point. Not only do fighters now have to reveal their exact whereabouts any time USADA wants to do an impromptu drug test, they are also prohibited from wearing anything besides Reebok gear when they step foot inside of the Octagon. The new policies and partnerships that have been put in place have hurt many fighters, specifically those who counted on huge sponsorship deals to bring in yearly income.

"With UFC, we've pretty much stayed in the dark as much as possible," added Dillashaw. "They're telling us they're not selling the company when everyone knows they're selling it. It's public record, but they're still trying to tell us they weren't. They're just going to wait for the last minute for everything for us to find out."

"They're trying to make us do things and we're not employees. So it's kind of crazy."

As a private organization, UFC can do pretty much what it wants, especially if it's labeled as an improvement for the sport of MMA. But at some point, fighters are going to get together, form a union and make things much difficult to control.