Join Matthew Wells and Patrick Auger as they discuss how a Joe Biden presidency could affect the UFC.
The conversation begins with Auger mentioning that one significant way the UFC could be impacted is through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The UFC Fighter Pay controversy heated up again in 2020 and the conversation always comes back to the classification of independent contractor vs. employee.
Former UFC fighter Leslie Smith previously mentioned to Auger that the current NLRB administration is not supportive of Project Spearhead’s efforts to unionize all professional mixed martial artists.
A pro-union administration would have endless ramifications for the UFC, but the Senate ultimately controls the power here and it does seem unlikely that this will have an immediate impact on the UFC.
Matthew Wells refers to Joe Biden’s campaign website and how it particularly mentions plans to “encourage and incentivize union organizing and collective bargaining,” and also “ensure that all workers are treated with dignity and receive the pay, benefits and workplace protections they deserve.”
Furthermore, Auger explains that while the UFC is doing great during the pandemic, the overall entity, Endeavor Group Holdings, has been significantly impacted by the events of 2020. Given the situation, Auger expects that Endeavor would not quickly give-in to demands for increased fighter pay or unionization and would do their best to keep UFC moving forward in the current direction that has been working well.
Wells mentions that another campaign promise from Biden is that he’s going to preside over this country for everyone, he’s not going to be a democratic president. For this reason, Wells believes that Biden may quickly reach out to Dana White and see what they can do as an administration to work together and help kickstart the economy again.
But Auger raises the point that White’s personal relationship with Trump may really hurt him: “We’re talking about a guy who has gone out and publicly campaigned for Trump, has said it’s up to Trump and that nobody else could help.”
One other instance where this could impact the UFC is by changes to fighter visa rules and allowances. Auger recently spoke with sports and entertainment immigration attorney Sherrod Seward about the process of obtaining work authorization visas for international athletes competing in the UFC, boxing, and other sports.
With a Biden presidency, it’s possible that some of the rules and allowances in place for sports organizations will change. Biden’s tougher stance on coronavirus may result in banning flights from coronavirus hotspots. This could affect how the UFC runs its business on American soil and may well result in the promotion looking to book more fights in Abu Dhabi in 2021 and beyond.
Wells follows up on Auger’s point by stating that White’s relationship with Trump could be considered a “lifeline” as he was always able to call and ask for a quick favor.
Ultimately, if Biden is elected, the UFC is going to have to adapt and they’re going to have to adjust in the ways mentioned above and in some ways that we may not expect.
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