UFC brass is not going to like this. But it seems abundantly clear that Jose Aldo doesn't care very much.
Aldo, the UFC's lineal featherweight champion and one of the best overall fighters on the planet, recently expressed his support for a formal fighter association and monthly fighter salaries.
As it stands, most fighters, negotiating individual contracts on their own, do not hold major sway at the bargaining table with promotions like the UFC. Pay also comes per fight and can vary widely depending on fighter performance and their position on a card.
If all of this were up to Aldo, he would make the environment more fighter friendly, according to comments he made Thursday to Brazilian news site Combate (translation h/t Lucas Rezende of Bloody Elbow):
In the NFL, Nike makes the uniforms, but teams still pay their athletes, the same goes for NBA. Life gets hard for fighters who are just starting and earn no pay-per-view money. We spend a lot with trainers, sparring partners, etc. Nobody in this day and age goes to a gym to be punched in the face for free. Whether we like it or not, we are susceptible to injuries, which could leave us sidelined for a long time. That harms the fighter who only gets paid when he fights. If you're hurt, there's no income. It's good to have sponsors, because that's what keeps a fighter going.
Some of Aldo's comments were in apparent reference to the UFC's recent uniform deal with Reebok, which many fighters have said provides less pay than they previously had before other sponsors were banned.
Aldo also spoke about what he views as the potential benefits of a fighter association or union—an idea UFC leaders have vigorously resisted—noting that relationships between fighters have historically been fractious or even contentious, though that may be changing.
Nobody has spoken to me about a union, but it would be great. It's a way to protect athletes, it could really help. ... Fighters are too disunited because [of] rivalries between gyms in the past. Of course this is not as strong as before, but it still happens. It's like this: If I don't fight for a price tomorrow, somebody else will accept that money.
For its part, the UFC has shrugged off complaints, noting, among other things, that fighter pay is higher than it once was and that deals like the one the UFC signed with Reebok will never be agreeable to all parties.
The 29-year-old Aldo (25-1) is scheduled to face interim champion Conor McGregor in a title-unification bout on Dec. 12.