MMA Weekly is reporting that the UFC gathered their fighters together for the company’s first-ever large scale fighter development meeting. Topics reportedly ranged from steroids and professionalism to taxes and fighter pay. UFC president Dana White said the meetings were intended to educate the fighters on various aspects of the business that they’ve hitherto remained in the dark on.
Said White: “I have 100 employees just at Zuffa, and I have 250 fighters under contract. (We’re) trying to keep everything under control and communicating with everybody, so we brought the fighters in and talked to them about everything. It was great. It was good for them and it was good for us.”
White acknowledged that the situation between the UFC and Randy Couture — which White seems content to chalk up to “miscommunication” — served as something of a catalyst for these meetings.
“I felt like there was obviously a lack of communication there that I thought Randy and I had. That whole thing freaked me out, so I wanted to talk to them all about that, too.”
Other sports organizations have had programs to help first year players transition into the life of a pro sports star, but this is the first time the UFC has ever gathered all its fighters together for a general meeting of this kind. It’s really too bad that the Spike TV cameras weren’t rolling for this (although the presence of cameras does bring with it a forty percent increase in profane tirades from White), because something tells me it would be interesting on a number of levels to heat what the organization is telling their fighters.
This is a unique time in MMA. There are more opportunities for fighters than ever before in this country, and if White thought that some of his guys were thinking of following Couture to what they believe to be greener pastures, you can’t blame him for wanting to have the chance to talk to them s a group first.
Of course, I’d also be curious to know how far the scope of these talks might have extended. White said they talked about taxes, so what kind of financial advice are fighters getting? Were there skits about avoiding gold-digging groupies, like the NBA Rookie Transition Program has? Was Joe Rogan there as a guest speaker, imploring the fighters to come up with something to say during the Mickey’s replay?
We’ll have to content ourselves with speculation for now, but at least it’s a good sign that the UFC recognizes the need to address their fighters the way major sports organizations do. Without some guidance, I can only imagine what Keith Jardine would spend his bonus money on. Something tells me he’s more likely to buy himself shotguns and ATV’s than he is to open a Roth IRA. Just a guess.