MMA Opinion: Hammer Fists? Yes. Contractor? Maybe
With that road paved, here is an experiment for the reader. There will be a description of a few scenarios (real ones) and a hint at the end. Then it will be the task to guess a word just as in said game show. There will be no cash prize, but there will be an irony related to cash prizes at the conclusion. The word to guess is the point of this writing.
Scenario 1: Fighter suspended provisionally for a banned substance soon after USADA takes over such things at the UFC. He insists (adamantly) he is unaware how it got in his system. Suspended for two years. Other fighters in same exact situation were able to arbitrate, investigate, and lighten (even completely overturn) their suspension. Guilt or innocence is not the point. Just two months shy of his suspension after months of trying to get released, he was unceremoniously released. That is 22 months of not being allowed to fight, nor prove eligibility to fight. For our game show and for no cash prize, what is the word that comes to mind?
Scenario 2: Fighter (pick one) is used on and in products and merchandise for a fight promotion. Even having their fight style, likeness, and their actual name itself, used in such a way that their contract forbids the use of it outside of the promotion. Oh, and they receive little, but primarily no compensation for the use of these things. Compiled with the apparel deals like Reebok and now Venum, their actual names are screen-printed on the items and cannot be printed on any non-promotion items and seen anywhere in or around the promotion's events. One fighter literally did pre-fight interviews barefoot because his footwear was branded with competitor's branding (Nike instead of Reebok) – oh, and promoter did not sell shoes, so he would not have made anything had he wore right branding. Again, for our game show, is there a guess what we are describing and what word comes to mind?
Scenario 3: Finally, a very recent and very relevant scenario given current trends in boxing sideshows. A fighter – heck, he deserves to be named - Georges St-Pierre has expressed a desire to compete outside of the UFC. Not in a competing promotion or even in the same sport. Further, one conversation has him seeking a boxing match with another of MMA's greatest to ever do it – but who WAS released from his contract – Anderson Silva. The plot thickens. Both men reached the pinnacle of MMA in their reigns as champions and now, both retired talk of a boxing match on the heels of Silva having already competed and looking excellent in one with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. GSP has stated on multiple occasions this type of thing has been derailed over and over by his former (current contracted) promotion. Last game show question for the win. What word comes to mind?
Did the reader guess it? If there were a major cash prize on the line would it make it easier? It is highly doubtful that any of these scenarios brought to mind the word in question. Maybe even somewhere around zero percent. How about a hint? It is an adjective that in this context describes "contractor." The word is: Independent! Ding, ding, ding!
Though the prospect of actual independence is pretty far off and most certainly not how their current situation should be defined, it is interesting to say the least that all of this control over the fighters is supposed to be accepted as independence. For fun, the reader might try this with other contractors in their life they hire. Maybe they hire a plumber and say he cannot use a certain brand of wrench. Or tree-trimmer and suggest he can't use his own equipment, but has to use the customer's scissors and knives on the topiaries. MMA fighters might find game shows more lucrative than some promoter contracts. It is a cruel irony that some MMA fight current purses reflect some game show grand prizes from the 1970s. The GOAT GSP (did you catch it?) will not get cash prizes from his former contracting company, nor is he free to seek any prizes – for prize-fighting – of any kind apart from said company. Yet, that company's documents describe him as "independent" contractor; Which all begs the question(s): If the word independent is going to be used of fighters, what does it even mean or what are they free to do?
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