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Why won’t mixed martial arts (MMA) or UFC fighters unionize? The question is posed often with answers ranging from it’s not in fighters’ selfish nature to work together to they’re afraid of retribution and more.

Additionally, different organizations whose expressed purpose is unionization have tried: the Professional Fighters Association (PFA), Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA), and currently still trying is Project Spearhead. Athletes have put their names behind the efforts like Leslie Smith, Cain Velasquez, Georges St-Pierre, TJ Dillashaw, Donald Cerrone and many others. Yet, every time, nothing happens.

So why is this the case? It turns out until the larger context in which these efforts are designed to prevent action. Until there is greater awareness of how said context affects athlete choices, little else will change.

“The incentive structure in the UFC is set up so that fighters as rational actors pursuing their self interest will not unionize,” Aeric Koerner says here. In my second sitdown with him, we look at game theory to help explain why.

Email Aeric: aerickmma@gmail.com

Link to his game theory presentation: https://tinyurl.com/gametheoryunion

Aeric’s fighter pay study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9xHbxEdY-g

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Author: Luke Thomas