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Whole Buncha Nothing

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There is a great article on Fedor over at Sherdog.  The last page has the following quote from Fedor about the UFC contract, which has recieved a lot of play online:

"Basically I can't leave undefeated. I can't give interviews, appear in films or advertising. I don't have the right to do anything without the UFC's agreement. I could do nothing without the OK from the UFC. I didn't have the right to compete in combat sambo competition. It's my national sport. It's the Russian sport, which in his time our president competed in, and I no longer have the right to do so. There were many such clauses; the contract was 18 pages in length. It was written in such a way that I had absolutely no rights while the UFC could at any moment, if something didn't suit them, tear up the agreement. We worked with lawyers who told us that it was patently impossible to sign such a document."

There is nothing in here that is non-standard for a fight contract.  Below the fold I'll look at these one at a time..

  1.  I highly doubt there is a media restriction, UFC reserves the right to pull its guys from interviews, but for the most part UFC fighters are free to do interviews all over.
  2.  We always knew Sambo was an issue.  However, Dana's position was eminently reasonable.  Imagine any other major sport in which a team player wants to compete in some extremely dangerous sport in the offseason.  There's no way it flies.
  3.  "I can't leave undefeated" is referring to the champions' clause in UFC contracts.  I've never seen a major boxing contract for a promotion without this.  It's so obvious why Dana wouldn't want an undefeated champion leaving with his belt for another promotion, it's almost not worth discussing.
  4.  Then finally there is the issue of UFC being able to tear up the contract at any time.  I think this was the central issue.  Despite all the posturing and the odd belief of Pride fans that this would be a walkover for Fedor, this would be an extremely close fight, and Fedor knew there was a great chance of losing.  If he lost Dana would have terminated the contract, and Fedor would have been pretty screwed.  I know the UFC was willing to negotiate on this, and were offering him a different termination deal than everyone else has to get him to sign.  The UFC's right to cancel at any time seems problematic on its face, but then again, they were also willing to give Fedor some control over who he fought.
In sum, anyone can do this kind of thing with any contract.  I recently accepted a summer associate job at a law firm, and I could go line by line through all the "rights" I gave up and make it sound insane, but some things are just standard in the industry.  Shockingly, I'm not allowed to badmouth my firm in the press, I can't go work for competing firms in my spare time, they can fire me at any time (!), and they require me to work a lot.