WSOF champ Jon Fitch has long been an advocate for reforming MMA and the way its athletes are treated.
A supporter of the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA) and the adaptation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to MMA, Fitch has always spoken candidly about the lack of financial stability afforded to fighters and about his belief that promotions should allow their champions to defend belts against titleholders in multiple organizations.
But when it comes to the most recent public push on the fighter associations front, the recently-launched MMAAA, Fitch is not on board. As one of the fighters involved a class-action lawsuit filed against the UFC in 2014, the octagon veteran is concerned with the association’s intentions, particularly what he believes are the intentions of former Bellator CEO and one of the association’s spearheads, Bjorn Rebney.
“It’s very troubling that Bjorn Rebney publicly stated he plans to settle the class-action lawsuit,” Fitch told MMAjunkie Radio. “Which would undercut – who knows? – hundreds of millions of dollars of money that should be recovered to fighters who fought in the UFC in order to make a profit for himself.”
The MMAAA, which received a cease-and-desist letter from attorneys representing fighters connected to the lawsuit, has already stated it has no plans to acquiesce, claiming the lawyers, who “only represent a few fighters,” were only looking to get “some money out of one case.”
On his end, the former UFC title challenger remains set on moving forward with the antitrust suit – which remains in discovery and will have its class-action status decided upon by a judge in 2017.
“We have no intention of settling,” Fitch said. “We need the contracts to change. Any fighter who fought for the UFC from 2010 to today is a part of this class action law suit. Every single one of them is eligible to be paid the recovery of damages. If he’s planning to try to recruit guys in order to undercut and settle, he’s stealing millions of dollars from these guys.”
Set to defend his belt against Jake Shields (31-8-1) at WSOF’s monster card on Dec. 31 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Fitch (28-7-1) has been personally affected by MMA’s current system and, after having to move back due to financial hardships, says he could be retired by now if staying active wasn’t such a difficulty with the way contracts operate.
“I’ve been trying to stay active for a long time, but I can only get fights about every nine months,” Fitch said, “just because that’s the way the contracts and the promotion is working right now. I would love to fight four times in a year. I’d probably have made enough money to retire already if I could fight the pace that I wanted to.
“But we’re limited with how much we can fight because of the way with the system of MMA works today.”
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show, available on SiriusXM Ch. 93, is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.