Recently, the world of MMA received news that UFC fighter Junie Browning attempted to commit suicide. Later, while at the hospital to receive treatment, Browning subsequently attacked and assaulted hospital personnel, landing him in jail.
This obvious cry for help has gone by seemingly unnoticed by UFC president Dana White, who, after Browning?s episode, released him from his contract.
While I believe that White should not be held responsible for Browning?s actions, I think that*the UFC*should do the right thing and get Browning the help that he needs to get his life back on track.
I am no expert when it comes to fighter?s contracts and the provisions within, but with the UFC?s decision to cut Browning, it is*apparent that fighters have a very limited blanket of protection if any.
Who, if anyone, is looking out for the well being of the fighters? What can fighters do to prevent something like this from happening in the future?
Perhaps the fighters should look into more than just their own contracts. Perhaps they should begin to start thinking about what is right for their fellow athletes. Perhaps the time has come to band together and seek more incentive from the company that they fight for.
Take a look around the landscape of professional sports here in America. Professional athletes in just about every other sport have formed unions to provide greater benefits and protections for themselves. Athletes learned long ago that while management has the money, they have the power. Without athletes to compete, there would be no sporting events for owners to profit from.
Athlete unions were an essential evolution in the world of professional sports. As athletic competition began bringing in more and more money, the athletes realized that their percentage of that money was shrinking. But the purpose of these unions went far deeper than just money.
The athletes began to realize that they needed to think about more long-term benefits, such as health care, pension plans, and substance abuse programs.
The fighters for the UFC should begin to take a long hard look at the growth of the UFC and the sport in general and should begin to start thinking about benefiting the group as a whole.
A point that should be addressed first and foremost would deal with a substance abuse policy. The UFC as an employer should at least have to provide some form of treatment plan for fighters that are dealing with substance problems. Once that has been established then fighters could focus on revenue sharing, health care and pension issues.
A union may not necessarily be the way to go for the fighters but they should definitely be looking to acting more as a collective. The fighters need to be working towards improved contract terms and more protection as a whole.
A union may not be the answer right now, but we could see the progression in the future if certain issues are not addressed today.