CBSSPORTS.COM (VIACOM) calls ZUFFA a monopoly.

Gregg Doyle (twitter: greggdoyelcbs) of cbssports.com came out against ZUFFA today.

Dana already reacted to the story and called him a "drama queen".

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STORY:

The UFC is under attack, but not from do-gooding pacifists or meddling politicians. This time the UFC is under attack from something much scarier: The Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC vs. the UFC? That's a heavyweight fight. That's Dana White's worst nightmare. The FTC looks for antitrust violations, picking apart monopolies as the unfair bullies they are -- and as far as I'm concerned, the UFC is guilty as charged.

And I love the UFC. Understand that, and maybe you can understand how uncomfortable this story is for me. Understand that, and you might even forgive me -- not for taking on the UFC, but for waiting so long to do it.

Because this has been a long time coming.

The UFC is brilliantly run, and has been since Dana White and the Fertitta brothers bought it in 2001. At the time the UFC had one foot in the grave -- unlicensed in most states, unknown in most households, unpopular with politicians and unable to find footing in the sports marketplace. Had the UFC gone under a decade ago, mixed martial arts in this country probably would have died with it. There wouldn't be hundreds of MMA gyms, or millions of MMA fans, or thousands of jobs devoted to the fastest-growing sport in the world. If it weren't for the UFC, most states in this country wouldn't have opened its doors to MMA.

And I wouldn't have a favorite pastime. Well, not this one. Watching it, reading about it, competing in it. I've done it all -- I do it all, to this day -- which is why this story is so uncomfortable for me. And why I've waited so long to write it. Because MMA is my hobby, my pastime, my passion. And because I'm a coward.

For years I've loved the UFC enough to leave it alone, let it do its bullying thing, with the tradeoff being that the UFC would love me back. And it has, up to a point. The UFC has given me credentials to every fight card I've asked to cover, and the UFC has put Dana White on the phone with me. Neither of those is as simple as you might think, because the UFC doesn't treat the media like the other major sports leagues in America treat the media. It's not a collaboration -- it's an intimidation.

Point blank, the UFC bullies the media, holds a grudge, uses access to its events as the carrot to keep us media folk in line. Write the wrong thing about the UFC or its leadership, and the UFC makes you pay -- rips you in public comments, denies your access as a journalist to events, encourages other folks inside the business to keep you there on the outside.

That's a fact, and the UFC knows which MMA writers I'm talking about. The hardest-core MMA fans know their names as well. Some of them work for established mainstream media outlets. Others work for niche MMA sites like Sherdog.com. This stuff isn't a secret.

Neither is the UFC's use of strong-arm tactics. A secret? No, not at all. One of the UFC's best fighters -- best in every way, from his fight record to his image to the way he represents the sport at fan-friendly events -- was fired from the organization a few years ago because, basically, he stood up for himself. Welterweight contender Jon Fitch was allowed back, but only after he caved and gave the UFC what it wanted.

See, the UFC had agreed to terms with the video-game company THQ in 2008, but for the UFC to reap those rewards it needed its fighters to sign away the lifetime video-game rights to their likeness. Jon Fitch, along with several teammates from American Kickboxing Academy in northern California, didn't like the sound of that. Why should he receive a one-time check but relinquish his lifetime rights, allowing the UFC to profit off his fighting ability even more than it already had? Fitch refused, so the UFC fired him.

That's how Zuffa, the UFC's parent company, operates. An FTC antitrust investigation can be misleading, because Zuffa is not a monopoly in the most basic sense of the term. It's not the only MMA promotion in the world, or even in the United States -- Bellator Fighting Championships is a legitimate promotion, and it was recently purchased by CBSSports.com's parent company, Viacom -- but the UFC is the most stable, the most coveted, the most popular. Zuffa has made a habit of buying out the UFC's biggest competition: the WEC in 2006, Pride in '07 and Strikeforce last year.

The UFC leverages that power to get whatever it wants from fighters. That includes their signature on a contract relinquishing their lifetime rights to their video-game likeness, as well as forcing businesses that sponsor UFC fighters to pay the UFC a surcharge to be allowed into the Octagon. It also includes fighter contracts, which are as one-sided now as baseball contracts were before the advent of MLB free agency in 1975. Fighters typically sign a three-fight contract, terms imposed by the UFC, and often are left dangling before their final fight, when they are given another contract offer -- terms imposed by the UFC -- and told to (A) sign it or (B) never fight in the UFC again. Fighters that choose (B) are banished for their final fight to the untelevised undercard, as happened in 2008 to popular former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.

The purses can be insulting for UFC fighters, especially its newest fighters. A fighter who competes three times in a year, and wins two of them, could earn between $40,000 and $50,000 for the year. That's a respectable wage in many lines of work, but not for a professional athlete on multiple fight cards that generate millions in PPV and ticket sales for a promotion said to be worth more close to $2 billion.

That's a rip-off.

What would constitute a fair wage for UFC fighters, even its least experienced ones? Nobody knows, because Zuffa hides its financial information. Fighters can't identify a fair percentage of the profits because they have no idea what those profits are. Boxers avoid this sort of blind negotiation thanks to the 2000 Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which forces promoters to share such financial information with its fighters. MMA has no such disclosure law, so UFC fighters have to deal in the dark.

But the UFC is so influential, so enormous, that new fighters are willing to fight for $6,000 in the hopes of winning -- and doubling their purse thanks to a "win bonus" -- and getting more fights, more wins, more bonuses. On a card with roughly 10 fights, fighters get five-figure bonuses for the top knockout, top submission and top overall fight. Win a few fights a year and pocket a bonus or two along the way, and a young UFC fighter can avoid working a second job. Do that three or four years in a row, and he can become the next Georges St. Pierre or Jon Jones, fighters with headliner status and six-figure guarantees.

CONCLUDES:

Or a young UFC fighter could do like so many young UFC fighters do. He can fail this survival of the fittest and find himself cut by the promotion, fighting in the minor leagues, sacrificing his body and brain while chasing another shot at the UFC dream.

A professional fighter is an adult, and the choice to pursue such a violent career is his. But the UFC should play fair in all things, from its purses to its treatment of negotiations like the one that saw Jon Fitch briefly lose his job even as he was in the middle of a 16-fight winning streak.

Now then, let's get back to me for a moment. I have dreams of my own. I dream of covering more Zuffa cards -- my first one was UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio, which I attended in March 2007 with plans of ripping MMA but instead wrote this love poem -- and in fact I've been approved by Zuffa to cover its Strikeforce card March 3 in Columbus. I've also dreamed about writing Dana White's biography. I told him as much during a phone interview last year, and while White laughed, I wasn't joking. The profanely fascinating UFC president is that charismatic, that interesting, that I'd like to write his book.

But White and his sport are so charismatic -- to me, anyway -- that I've hated the idea of writing this story, the one you're reading now. So for years I refused. I watched the Jon Fitch thing unfold, and looked the other way. I've seen media members get frozen out by the UFC, and looked the other way. I've followed the unseemly wage scale for fighters, especially the most vulnerable fighters, and looked the other way.

But last week, ESPN's Outside the Lines aired a report on the UFC that delved into the FTC's antitrust investigation of Zuffa, which Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta acknowledged by saying, "My understanding is that yes [the FTC has] opened a non-public investigation based on the acquisition we made of Strikeforce."

So I can't look the other way anymore, because this is really happening. The UFC's stranglehold on MMA is being investigated by the federal government. Its days as a competition-gobbling, fighter-intimidating bully could be coming to an end. So here I come out from under my rock, finally bold enough to acknowledge what has been going on for years.

No one takes on Zuffa and the UFC and lives to tell about it. Not professionally, anyway. But here I am, writing a story I never wanted to write, wondering what the consequences will be for me.

I'm still planning to cover the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce event on March 3, by the way. I have the confirmation email from a UFC publicist and everything. But if you don't see my byline from that event in Columbus, well, you'll know why.

have fun covering strikeforce cuz it will be the last time u get press credentials for a zuffa event.way to commit professional suicide bro

jason73 - have fun covering strikeforce cuz it will be the last time u get press credentials for a zuffa event.way to commit professional suicide bro


Talk out your ass much?

 

 This should be interesting.

 how the fuck did i watch pro elite the other night?

he'll get more attention off this piece for blasting the UFC then he ever will writing nice about them.

Then if Dana yanks his press creds he will bitch and cry about it and be even more known.

 http://www.cbssports.com/columns/story/16996188/calling-out-ufc-is-a-losing-fight-but-its-time-to-step-into-the-ring 



why is my link button not working?

 lol @ Viacom accussing Zuffa of being a monopoloy when they themselves, one of the biggest  media companies in the world, now also own and operate an MMA promotion.

You guys are talking about this guy like he is some nobody writing for a small publication. It so happens he is one of the main sports columnists for one of the top sports media conglomerates who regularly covers America's top sport (NFL). Guess what? As far as sports writers go..........his name is already out there. I would say the UFC needs guys like this more than he needs them.

Chris -  lol @ Viacom accussing Zuffa of being a monopoloy when they themselves, one of the biggest  media companies in the world, now also own and operate an MMA promotion.


Well Viacom is gonna come at them, they've proven that with the countering on Spike, they are gonna hammer the UFC now it seems.

I was flipping through and saw the Live on SPike, Davis vs Evans Marathon, so they are gonna go at the UFC anyway they can.

I'm going to go full conspiracy here.... (just for fun)

VIACOM vs Zuffa is on going feud.

Who would benefits from Zuffa being broken up? Viacom.... they would throw around money and pick up fighters for Bellator. You have Spike counter UFC and your press right "UFC is a monopoly" stories. Don't forget that Zuffa gutted Strikeforce which was doing ok for Viacom.

 

This will not end well.
The monopoly talk is nonsense though. Phone Post

no it's not. read up on anti-trust laws. It's blatant.

You can tell this guy is a professional writer.  He knows how to string words together quite well and paints a compelling picture of the bully on the block.  But what exactly did he say?  He accuses UFC/Zuffa of being a monopoly.  What proof did he provide?  That the FTC has opened an investigation.  That's great, but does he realize the FTC investigates almost every corporate merger of this scale and that most investigations lead to nothing?  I hope he's not assuming the UFC will be sanctioned just because an investigation was opened.  If he is, he just poked an angry bear that he thought was soon going to be rendered toothless, yet I've seen nothing to suggest that the FTC is about to lay charges against Zuffa.



He trots out the aquisitions that Zuffa has made of rival promotions.  I guess he's not aware that the purchase of Strikeforce was a not hostile takeover.  SF had lost their financial backing.  Failing to find alternate sources of funding, they approached Zuffa about a possible takeover, not the other way around.  They had to, it was either that or fold and force all of their fighters to find work elsewhere.



Are Zuffa bullies?  Yes, I'd say enough evidence has come out over the years to say that.  Does that make them a monopoly?  Not in any laws I've ever read.  Now that Viacom owns Bellator, you can't even say that they have the deepest pockets.  We'll see how the FTC investigation unfolds over time but don't jump to conclusions about something that is nowhere near a guarantee to happen.

Googlebright - You can tell this guy is a professional writer.  He knows how to string words together quite well and paints a compelling picture of the bully on the block.  But what exactly did he say?  He accuses UFC/Zuffa of being a monopoly.  What proof did he provide?  That the FTC has opened an investigation.  That's great, but does he realize the FTC investigates almost every corporate merger of this scale and that most investigations lead to nothing?  I hope he's not assuming the UFC will be sanctioned just because an investigation was opened.  If he is, he just poked an angry bear that he thought was soon going to be rendered toothless, yet I've seen nothing to suggest that the FTC is about to lay charges against Zuffa.

He trots out the aquisitions that Zuffa has made of rival promotions.  I guess he's not aware that the purchase of Strikeforce was a not hostile takeover.  SF had lost their financial backing.  Failing to find alternate sources of funding, they approached Zuffa about a possible takeover, not the other way around.  They had to, it was either that or fold and force all of their fighters to find work elsewhere.

Are Zuffa bullies?  Yes, I'd say enough evidence has come out over the years to say that.  Does that make them a monopoly?  Not in any laws I've ever read.  Now that Viacom owns Bellator, you can't even say that they have the deepest pockets.  We'll see how the FTC investigation unfolds over time but don't jump to conclusions about something that is nowhere near a guarantee to happen.


Let's not forget that Dana has blamed the top executives at Viacom for the failure of the SPike negotiations. He calls them stupid all the time.

Chris -  lol @ Viacom accussing Zuffa of being a monopoloy when they themselves, one of the biggest  media companies in the world, now also own and operate an MMA promotion.

Viacom is a monster company Phone Post

Chris -  lol @ Viacom accussing Zuffa of being a monopoloy when they themselves, one of the biggest  media companies in the world, now also own and operate an MMA promotion.



 This. The ironing is epic in the fail department.



A competitor of Zuffa putting an Anti-Zuffa piece up on their site? Shocked.

So many fucking morons out there.

A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity.

You have some asshole claiming the UFC is a monopoly, when that same asshole is employed by a company that owns Bellator... a supplier of the same commodity as the UFC. In order for the UFC to be a monopoly, Bellator would need to be non-existent. There are many more MMA organizations out there. The UFC will never be busted for being a monopoly when you have organizations like the NFL, NBA and NHL that have been around forever and have a fraction of the competition that the UFC has.