Something's Gotta Give with All These Raging UFC Fighters

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2017

Demetrious Johnson reacts after defeating Tim Elliott during a mixed martial arts flyweight bout Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

If you've been watching MMA for any amount of time, you'll barely recognize the UFC as it presently exists.

Interim titles are cascading out of the front office like water over a cliff.

The biggest star in the history of the sport is gone, for the time being, to perform as a professional boxer.

Everyone from the best in the business to those barely hanging on to a UFC contract are speaking out against the promotion, its president, its fans, its matchmakers and almost anything else even remotely hovering in the UFC's orbit.

Wait. What?

Beyond the pointless paper belts and incomprehensible co-promotion that was long declared a nonstarter, everyone on the roster is voicing discontent for every reason you can name?

That is downright unthinkable. Unimaginable. Impossible, even.

Yet here we are.

UFC fighters have been speaking out constantly since the promotion was sold for a staggering $4 billion last summer, with everything from uniforms to unionization floating the outrage.

And it is very much describable as outrage. Fighters aren't just speaking out; they're doing it with a level of fury far exceeding what they produce in the cage.

Warning: The audio in the tweet below contains profanity.

That's been much of the story to this point—the notion that these athletes, long under the thumb of Dana White and the Fertitta regime and bullied and oppressed into silence during that tenure, are so fed up that they'd brazenly bite the hand that feeds.

It's fun to watch for those who enjoy a little chaos or fancy improved athlete rights, and it's concerning for those who like stability and wonder what a new labor market in MMA might do to the sport. But regardless of one's stance, it remains clear things can't continue on like this.

It's not viable for the UFC to remain the most hated entity in sports by those who perform for the promotion any more than the NBA or NHL is built to withstand a prolonged series of daily bad player PR stories. The sheer accumulation of athlete frustration means the league has to respond or risk losing advertising dollars and fan goodwill.

It's not viable for fighters to continue to view the UFC as simultaneously the best place to ply their trade and the worst place to work for in the world. They'll either migrate to Bellator, which is bolstering its roster and hasn't worried about money since being purchased by Viacom in 2011, or retire from the sport entirely in the name of finding new, less physically traumatic ventures.

It's probably not even viable for fans to continue to participate in the jungle of hostility the UFC has become, as the constant barrage of negativity could drive some to other sports and leagues they deem less drama-filled.

Warning: The tweet below contains profanity.

There is always going to be some friction between bosses and those under their watch, and athletes are no different. But those in the UFC have awoken to their situation enough to ramp that friction up to unprecedented levels.

It can't keep going like this, though.

Friction, long enough in duration and consistent enough in force, will start a fire in the right conditions.

Fire in these present UFC conditions, with so many players depending on the promotion and the relationships surrounding it, will burn the whole thing to the ground and leave all parties sifting through ashes, wishing they could undo the wrongs done to one another.

Everyone loses in that situation, and it's time people started finding solutions instead of finding more problems. 

No question, something's gotta give.

      

Follow me on Twitter @matthewjryder.

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