The question of whether UFC fighters are employees has taken a step forward.

Former UFC fighter Leslie Smith has told Combat Press that the National Labor Relations Board Region 4 office in Philadelphia has ruled that her claim that fighters under contract with the promotion are employees has merit.

The office believes that fighters are statutory employees of the promotion and that Smith’s release from the promotion following UFC Atlantic City was in retaliation for Smith’s efforts to unionize fighters. Smith was expected to face Aspen Ladd at the event, but after Ladd missed weight for the bout, the bout was canceled. Smith was then paid her show and win money and let go from the promotion.

In addition to Smith’s affirmation of the news, her attorney, Lucas Middlebrook, expanded on the news earlier today.

The news could send shockwaves through the MMA industry, as fighters are currently treated as independent contractors by fight promoters. The ruling by the Region 4 office is expected to be heard in court later this year. All signs point to the UFC challenging the ruling, but no official statement from the promotion has been made on the subject.

About The Author

Rob Tatum
Assistant Editor

Rob Tatum has been covering combat sports since 2009. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, MMA DieHards, MMAinterviews and The MMA Corner. Prior to covering combat sports, Rob ran his own music website from 2002-2009. Beyond his writing, Rob has trained in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. He is a Colorado native that works as a mechanical engineer during the day. In his free time, Rob enjoys watching sports, playing music and working on cars.

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