Travel Journal (#3): Iowa & The Full Monte

This post is about the second leg of my U.S. trip doing research for my book, “The Political Economy of Ultimate Fighting”. It covers events from 9 October 2017 to 14 October 2017. You can read my past journal entries here:

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“In boxing, you will never get a 5-0 fighter [five wins, zero losses] to fight another 5-0 fighter… that’s what I loved about MMA; everyone was willing to fight everyone.”

“I’m godfather to [former UFC heavyweight champion] Tim Sylvia’s son. [former UFC lightweight champion] Jens Pulver was over here this evening watching The Voice. I could hit [former welterweight champion] Pat Miletich’s house with a rock. We’re all still here, we’re still friends. The thing with MMA is that we’ve made lifetime relationships… you can’t have a better time than I’ve had in MMA.”

“I used to say to my fighters, ‘nothing is ridiculous, tell me what you want?’, and then I’d go out there and do my best to get it… Sometimes I would be in a standoff [with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva] for a month before we got the right deal.”

“The upper fighters, headliners and champions, would benefit from the Ali Act. The lower end guys [would] benefit from a union. For me, I can handle the lower end guys myself. I don’t need a union to negotiate good deals.”

That’s just a  few of the many anecdotes and insights long-time MMA manager and promoter Monte Cox shared with me during a phone-interview I conducted with him in September. A former newspaper editor and professional boxer, Monte began promoting MMA shows in 1996 in Iowa and soon after tried his hands at management.  He would go on to be the in-house manager for the Miletich Fighting Systems gym – MMA’s first super camp –  and would represent nine UFC champions and three Bellator champions over the next two decades. Continue reading “Travel Journal (#3): Iowa & The Full Monte”

The MMAAA One Year On

“I’m proud to announce the official launch of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. It’s gonna be big… we’re changing the sport forever starting today.”

That was Tim Kennedy this time 11 months ago, announcing the formation of the MMAAA alongside former champions Georges St Pierre, Cain Velasquez and TJ Dillashaw, perennial contender Donald Cerrone and former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. The organisation’s aims, outlined in their inaugural teleconference, were threefold: (1) to seek an “enormous settlement” on behalf of active and former UFC fighters; (2) to revise the revenue sharing model so that fighter’s received 50% of revenues; and (3) to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that would entitle fighters to ancillary conditions like pensions and health insurance.

How they were going to do that was less clear – the group expressly ruled out forming a certified labour organisation under the National Labour Relations Act, or bringing litigation against the UFC. But they had the star power and resources give the UFC a serious headache where other efforts, such as Jeff Borris’ Professional Fighters Association, appeared out of their depth. In Rebney’s words, their capacity to create change “came from the megaphone that these athletes speak from.”

You can read the rest of this article at Fight News Australia.