Bloody Elbow exclusive: Leaked ONE Championship contract raises concerns

Credit: Christopher Colon / ZUMA Wire / IMAGO

Over the years, John Nash has reviewed contracts from all the major MMA promotions and several big boxing contracts, as well. We’ve been able to see just how restrictive, and at times, draconian, most of the MMA agreements between promotions and athletes truly are. The UFC set the standard with their boilerplate contract and with new changes, have made it more difficult for fighters to seek legal recourse. It seems that the competition followed suit with their own lopsided deals, making adjustments as needed, but by and large, there’s not a wealth of difference in the way they all operate.

Enter ONE Championship

Recently, John acquired a ONE Championship contract and as he went through it, one thing became clear: ONE has some of the most restrictive language of them all. In this episode, we’ll go through the contract point by point, and because it was made publicly available from a lawsuit, we’re able to share it with our readers and listeners so that they may follow along. There are a few very interesting sections and one even had us scratching our heads. Let’s just say ONE definitely has their fighters’ finances under a microscope—even their personal finances outside competition. The most pertinent points of conversation have been highlighted for ease of reading.

Points of interest

  • Whose contract is it and how did we acquire it?
  • Why are there line-throughs on the cover page?
  • What are the differences in this contract and those of the UFC, Bellator or the PFL?
  • What are the differences in the promotional rights between the promotions?
  • Do ONE Championship fighters have any say in where they will compete?
  • Why would they need a new contract?
  • What about the champion’s clause and duration of rights?
  • For what reasons and for how long can ONE Championship extend their contracts?
  • What about obligations, is there anything noteworthy there?
  • What happens if a fighter gets injured or retires?
  • What’s the oddest thing ONE Championship can terminate a contract for?
  • Does ONE Championship have an exclusive negotiating period and a right to match?
  • Why is their confidentiality agreement so restrictive?
  • Why is so much of the contract “in perpetuity” and what’s up with their disparagement clause?
  • Do they have an arbitration clause?
  • What do their benefits and per diem look like?
  • Is ONE required to offer three fights per year?

BONUS SECTION

  • Is Dana White correct that the megastars in those events are the attractions? What about UFC fighters?
  • Why does boxing draw such big gates?
  • Can the UFC draw a gate that big?
  • Will Jon Jones and Stipe make as much as the boxers on those events?
  • If boxing can do so well, why is it apparently in trouble on SHO?
  • Why are investors putting money into MMA promotions and not boxing promotions?

Listen to Ep. 28 of Hey Not the Face!

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About the author

Stephie Haynes


Stephie Haynes has been covering MMA since 2005. She has also worked for MMA promotion Proelite and apparel brand TapouT. She hosted TapouT’s official radio show for four years before joining Bloody Elbow in 2012. She has interviewed everyone there is to interview in the fight game from from Dana White to Conor McGregor to Kimbo Slice, as well as mainstream TV, film and music stars including Norman Reedus, RZA and Anthony Bourdain. She has been producing the BE podcast network since 2017 and hosts four of its current shows.

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