Former Democratic Party presidential candidate and current Forward Party member Andrew Yang isn’t a fan of the way UFC and WWE do business. Back when he was still a hopeful for the 2020 presidential election, Yang criticized UFC for poor fighter pay, as well as cutting Leslie Smith in a retaliatory manner. He also advocated for a fighter union.
It’s been a couple years, but Yang took to Twitter to reiterate his argument for the “long overdue” UFC fighter union. He also talked in detail about WWE and how their athletes are exploited in similar fashion. In both cases, the revenue split is a fundamental issue, and it’s one that is getting more and more attention as of late.
Check out the full post below:
You know who is long overdue for a union? Both the WWE and UFC. UFC fighters get 10 - 15% of revenue. For other major sports it’s 50%. That means fighters are underpaid and should be getting 3 to 5 times more.— Andrew Yang ⬆️ (@AndrewYang) May 11, 2022
For WWE for the life of me I don’t understand why wrestlers aren’t members of SAG-AFTRA. They appear on scripted TV shows every week in front of millions. The WWE is selling digital rights for billions. But the performers don’t see a dime of that and can’t even go on Cameo.— Andrew Yang ⬆️ (@AndrewYang) May 11, 2022
.@LeslieSmith_GF took on the UFC and they fired her after she’d won a fight. She’s a class act. But the other fighters took note.— Andrew Yang ⬆️ (@AndrewYang) May 11, 2022
Any fighter or performer who wants to discuss what’s possible contact @lkmiddleb confidentially - we can help you and yours get what you’re actually bringing in for the organization and take care of your family.— Andrew Yang ⬆️ (@AndrewYang) May 11, 2022
One of the important bits mentioned by Yang is the control UFC and WWE exert over their athletes. UFC fighters have strict uniform and sponsorship requirements that go beyond fight night, and USADA is another year round obligation for athletes. WWE has waffled on blocking their athletes from Cameo and Twitch, a way to monetize outside of the company. It’s a different argument from unionization, but these are key details that could get fighters classified as employees rather than contractors.
As Yang says, it will still take action from inside the roster to bring about change, but seeing as athletes are growing more vocal, perhaps that day is getting closer.