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Luke Rockhold on Healthcare and UFC Fighter Pay

"And if you let these motherf*****s think that they have that leverage, it's only gonna grow above you. So it's just people understanding their worth."



Luke Rockhold is an American professional mixed martial artist (MMA). Rockhold is currently signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he competes in the Light Heavyweight division. Rockhold is a former UFC Middleweight Champion.

The UFC is notorious for being anti-union. Based on records made available through an ongoing class action lawsuit from numerous ex-UFC fighters, the promotion has approximately paid out 16 to 20 percent of the revenue to the athletes. Most other major sports leagues — including the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball — pay out around 50 percent of the revenue to the athletes. (source)


Nearly 80 percent of MMA athletes said they would be in favor of organizing a union (source).


Kobe Bryant even suggested the UFC should have a union. In May of 2017 Bryant was invited to speak to UFC fighters at an athlete’s retreat and was asked by labor organizer and featherweight contender Leslie Smith about the importance of collective bargaining and labor unions to NBA athletes like him.


Kobe answered as follows:

​“Even us as players, where we have our union meetings and things of that nature, we’re normally at each other’s throats competing against each other. But we understand completely that a rising tide raises all boats,” Bryant continued. “When you guys have this unity and you guys are operating together on the same page together, it does nothing but simply fortify the sport, make the sport better. Not just for the present, but also for future generations that are coming. So, it’s extremely important.” (source).



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Edited Transcript of Luke Rockhold’s Press Conference for UFC 278 on August 17, 2022. (Full video here)

Over the past few weeks you've been very vocal about fighter to pay. Do you worry that maybe the promotion will sort of be rooting against you if you continue to talk out about that subject?


Root against me for what? What are they gonna do?

I mean, root against me, go for it, do your thing, dude, I'm here to fight.

I'm not saying anything that's not real.

Everything I'm saying is justified and truthful.

Just because like, I should be in a position of power before I say this shit? Fuck off, I got nothing to lose. I don't need this business.

I love the fighting and I'm here to fight the best motherfuckers and this happens to be the place where it's done, you know?

They need to grow this whole fucking thing needs to grow together.

Our lives are on the fucking line.

Healthcare needs to be taken care of, our fucking health needs to be taken care of.

Mine has not been taken care of, you know what I mean?

Like, yeah, this is business, every business is like this, it's about leverage, it's a game of leverage and life.

And it's about fucking, always keeping the upper hand.

It's it's not just here, it's everywhere.

And if you let these motherfuckers think that they have that leverage, it's only gonna grow above you. So it's just people understanding their worth.


And when you say your health hasn't been taken care of, can you elaborate on that?


I don't, I don't need to, I mean, it's just, it. things should be easier. You know what I mean?

Insurance should be fucking year round.

The giant is growing and it's like, there's one thing that should be fucking paramount is these fighters health, you know?

It's fucking our lives and our bodies are on the line every fucking time I step into that cage, and if we're not fucking protected, it's like, fuck, come on, wake up.


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About the Labor Solidarity Podcast

The Labor Solidarity Podcast highlights the work of labor leaders while discussing historic struggles and the importance of organizing with the goal of building international labor solidarity. The Labor Podcast is hosted by Elise Bryant and Evan Papp.


Learn more at: https://www.empathymedialab.com/laborsolidarity


The Labor Solidarity Podcast is an Empathy Media Lab production and we are a proud member of The Labor Radio Podcast Network. Learn more: https://wlo.link/@empathymedialab


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