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Deron Williams has a unique perspective on the possibility of a UFC fighters union.
Williams, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a member and major proponent of the NBA Players Association (NBAPA). He’s also a longtime UFC fan. And now he’s closer than ever to the sport of mixed martial arts as the co-owner of Fortis MMA in Dallas.
In viewing the fighters who train at his gym, Williams sees what he describes as a a high-risk-and-low-reward situation. He sees fighters who are “putting in a lot of work — blood, sweat and tears — for very little money,” Williams told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
“It’s just tough on them,” Williams said. “You talk about the UFC, it’s not like basketball. We have a players union that’s fighting for us and helping us better our contracts and things like that. These guys are kind of just on their own and it’s whatever [the UFC says] goes. So, it’s a tough situation.”
Recent attempts to start a fighters union have been futile and associations have had a hard time gaining a foothold as well. The MMA Fighters Association (MMAFA), which has been around since 2008, has had the most success, spearheading an antitrust lawsuit against the UFC that is currently in litigation.
Talk of some kind of organization of fighters hit a fever pitch when the Fertitta brothers sold the UFC to WME-IMG for more than $ 4 billion last summer, but have cooled down since then. While NBA players see an increase in salaries when the league signs a new broadcast deal — as mandated by the collective-bargaining agreement with the NBAPA — UFC fighters don’t get a percentage of the promotion’s broadcast money. And that money is likely to expand exponentially when the UFC’s deal with Fox is up next year.
“I don’t know what’ll happen,” Williams said. “I think there’s definitely some changes need to be made, because it’s kind of taking a lot of money out of their pockets the way things are going. It’s working for the UFC, obviously. The business model is working. I don’t know.”
Williams has been a fan of the UFC for years and has been training in MMA himself, too. Williams said he has trained on and off for about four years, but has really gotten into it in the last 18 months, especially Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He trains with his coach and partner Sayif Saud at Fortis MMA, with Rob Handley in Utah and with UFC veterans Josh Burkman and Steven Siler, too. Williams said he’s usually in the gym three to four times per week in the offseason.
When his NBA career is over, Williams said he’d love to compete in jiu-jitsu competitions. He is, after all, a former wrestling youth state champion in Texas.
“I’m gonna do some jits tournaments, for sure,” Williams said. … “I’ll probably have to [after retirement]. It’ll probably be the smartest thing to do.”
Right now, Williams has plenty on his plate. The 12-year NBA veteran is the backup point guard for the Cavaliers, who are currently in the NBA Eastern Conference finals. Williams is a three-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Still, if a basketball game comes on at the same time as an MMA fight, Williams will choose MMA every time. He said he watches every UFC card, from Fight Pass prelims to the main event. Williams calls his favorite fighter Jon Jones, but since he has been inactive Demetrious Johnson is Williams’ second choice.
“Jon Jones was my favorite fighter,” Williams said. “He hasn’t fought in two years, it’s hard to say somebody that’s not out there. But I love watching Mighty Mouse. He’s amazing. He’s just so technical. He’s great standup, wrestling, he’s slick on his back. He can do it all.
“Not a lot people like the 125ers. There’s not a lot of knockouts, to be honest. But watching him and what he does, it’s so crazy. He’s so patient, he’s so smart.”
Williams, 32, is definitely a student of MMA. And he’s got a stake in it now, too. He’s not sure if there will ever be a union like NBA players have, but he’ll surely be keeping a close eye on the developments.
“I know guys have talked about it,” Williams said. “You’ve seen fighters talk about it in the past. It seems like when they talk about it, they end up in Bellator.”
Bia Mesquita is one of the best grapplers in the world today, and could be the next jiu-jitsu star to make her transition to mixed martial arts.
Winner of seven IBJJF world titles, three as a black belt, Mesquita, who competes around 140 pounds in jiu-jitsu, stole the show Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, submitting rising MMA prospect — and fellow grappling ace — Mackenzie Dern at the Rio Falls absolute final.
“I thought the match would be a bit tougher,” Mesquita, who faced Dern for the first time in a jiu-jitsu match, told MMA Fighting after winning the match in just 64 seconds. “I was surprised how fast it was. I thought it would be closer. I believed in the win, but I thought it would be closer, that I would win by two points or an advantage, that it would last 10 minutes.
“I surprised myself a bit that I was able to impose my game so well. I went to the match and was able to dominate it. When I can use everything I know, when everything works, there’s no other result if not a submission.”
After winning the weight and absolute gold medals in Rio, Mesquita will now compete at the Abu Dhabi World Pro trials, Brazilian National, San Diego Open and then the World Championship in the next two months.
Going for her eight world title in Long Beach in June, Mesquita plans to shift her focus right after. The Saquarema native, who turns 26 years old on April 7, has already conquered every title possible in the jiu-jitsu world, and trained with MMA stars like Urijah Faber and Jessica Penne in the past has changed the way she sees the sport.
“I’ve already trained with these guys, and it was cool,” Mesquita said. “The girls from Alliance MMA always go to the gym to train with us. I’ve wrestled with them. It was cool. It opened my mind a bit about MMA. Now I think about this more frequently, thinking about training muay thai or boxing.”
“I can’t say I’ll (fight MMA) without experiencing this first,” she continued. “I don’t know how it feels to enter a cage and fight. It’s different than jiu-jitsu, you get punched in the face. I don’t know if I’m ready for that, if I have this talent. In jiu-jitsu, I’m ready for that. One thing I’m thinking about is training striking, muay thai or boxing, after the World Championship, and then I’ll decide if I can or can’t start a career in MMA. But, for sure, that’s something that has entered my mind already. I’m more open to this world.”
Mesquita says she has trained muay thai before, but only lightly.
“I’ve played a little,” Mesquita says. “There was a muay thai training after the jiu-jitsu training here in Saquarema, and I’ve put the glove on to play before. I mean, it’s cool, but it’s not the reality. Nobody punched my face for real. I want to feel the reality of the real training, something I never had the opportunity to experience. Getting knocked down… Am I ready for this? I know it’s not easy, I can get hurt more than in a jiu-jitsu training. That’s what missing before I can say ‘I can do it, I’ll try MMA.’”
The Nevada Athletic Commission handed Conor McGregor a reduced punishment for the infamous UFC 202 pre-fight press conference bottle-throwing melee, and now it wants to look into doing the same for Nate Diaz.
Recent News on Sherdog.com
UFC welterweight prospects Alan Jouban and Mike Perry highlighted a list of eight fighters to receive potential 180-day medical suspensions in the aftermath of UFC on FOX 22, according to information released this week by the California State Athletic Commission.
Jouban and Perry opened up the FOX main card with a contentious contest that Jouban carried into a patient unanimous decision victory. Both fighters will now be required to sit out for a potential 180-day period or receive physician clearance on potential fractures (Jouban, left knee; Perry, nose) before being allowed to return to active competition, per commission orders.
In addition to Jouban and Perry, six other fighters received similar 180-day medical suspensions for possible injuries sustained during the event: Cole Miller (right hand and fifth left finger fractures), Colby Covington (orbital fracture), James Moontasri (nose fracture), Josh Emmett (rib fracture), Irene Aldana (right eye fracture), and Hector Sandoval (left hip pain).
UFC on FOX 22 took place at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. Former Invicta FC champion Michelle Waterson submitted Paige VanZant via first-round rear-naked choke in the night’s strawweight main event.
A complete list of UFC on FOX 22′s medical suspensions can be seen below.
- Alan Jouban: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for possible left knee fracture
- Mike Perry: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for possible nose fracture
- Cole Miller: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for possible right hand and fifth left finger fractures
- Colby Covington: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for possible orbital fracture; minimum suspension of 60 days or needs physician clearance for facial laceration
- James Moontasri: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for possible nose fracture; minimum suspension of 60 days or needs physician clearance for left eyelid laceration
- Josh Emmett: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for possible rib fracture; minimum suspension of 45 days for hard bout, no exception
- Irene Aldana: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for possible right eye fracture, minimum suspension of 45 days for hard bout, no exception
- Hector Sandoval: Suspended 180 days or needs physician clearance for left hip pain
- Mickey Gall: Suspended 60 days or needs physician clearance on right eyebrow laceration
- Brad Pickett: Suspended 60 days or needs physician clearance on left eyelid laceration; minimum suspension of 45 days, 30 days no contact for hard bout
- Luis Henrique da Silva: Suspended 60 days or needs physician clearance for left eyebrow and right cheek laceration
- Bryan Barberena: Suspended 60 days or needs physician clearance for facial laceration
- Scott Holtzman: Suspended 60 days or needs physician clearance for right eyelid laceration; minimum suspension of 45 days for hard bout, no exception
- Sultan Aliev: Suspended 60 days or needs physician clearance for left eyelid laceration
- Paige VanZant: Suspended 45 days for falling unconscious, no exception
- Urijah Faber: Suspended 45 days for hard bout, no exception
- Takeya Mizugaki: Suspended 45 days, 30 days with no contact for knockout