Now (some) managers and agents are in on the stiff arm:
Zuffa, the company that owns and operates both promotions, has notified select fighter representatives that they will no longer receive credentials from the promotion to sit with their clients backstage on fight night.
The reasoning behind the UFC’s decision varies according to the source. Some say the move is yet another strike in a campaign to separate fighters from their business representatives. Others say Zuffa is making a reasonable attempt to control unnecessary backstage traffic and lighten overcrowded dressing rooms of freeloaders.
The latter explanation loses traction, however, when the promotion has not enacted a blanket policy across the board, which brings into question if the move is more personal than procedural.
Par for the course, positively zero explanation was provided by the UFC. Now, I don't have any experience in this matter enough to know whether this is a move to improve efficiency backstage or another attempt to drive a wedge between fighters and their representatives. I've been backstage at smaller shows, but I have no real way of knowing how analogous the two experiences actually are.
I can say, however, the lack of any official response or explanation is typical poor form from Zuffa. It's the UFC's business, so whatever decisions they make are well within their rights, but when it comes to the art of finesse or transparency to explain positions adopted in the course of business, UFC management have characteristically been abject failures. In a previous life, I worked with several large corporations on how to improve corporate social responsibility and transparency efforts both in language and principle. I can say unequivocally I've never seen anything like the closed circle middle fingering Zuffa offers to those who draw their ire. Then again, if you believe there are no stakeholders beyond the confines of your inner circle, why bother? I'd remind Zuffa, though, that here, too, there is no free lunch. There is a price for selective bias, even if the wheels of justice grind slowly.
As to why a manager or agent would need to be backstage, again, I confess to not having enough experience to evaluate the UFC's decision. And I'm not suggesting the UFC doesn't have a case, but if they aren't willing to make it themselves I am certainly not here to do it for them. But Hunt lays out possible scenarios where managers and agents may nevertheless be needed:
Managers and agents can also act as liaisons between fighters and their families and often become the point person when an athlete is rushed to the hospital. Reps also observe drug testing and review medical suspensions with the commissions. These are roles that the reps said cornermen aren’t expected to perform and that fighters pay to have done so they won’t have to do themselves.
"We’ve had it where a fighter gets handed a [medical] suspension, put the paperwork in his bag, then forgot all about it," said another anonymous rep. "If you can get back there and do all that, then you allow everyone else to be focused on their jobs."
But it’s probably the scenarios that managers and agents might now miss that have them worried.
"There have been situations where business has been presented," said a rep, who also explained that fighters can be approached backstage by sponsors, commercial photographers and press, all toting release forms.
In addition to unreported locker room bonuses, fighter reps have told Sherdog.com that verbal contract extensions have taken place. One rep said his fighter was even presented with a written contract to sign without counsel advice before he could continue on with his duties that evening.
I'm certain they won't respond, but I'd like to know and I'd like the UFC to offer some kind of response: why is this happening? If I get a response, I'll let you know.