In May of 2017 Bryant was invited to speak to UFC fighters at an athlete's retreat and was asked by labor organizer and featherweight contender Leslie Smith about the importance of collective bargaining and labor unions to NBA athletes like him.
Unions are "extremely important," Bryant said, though he was signed to the owner of the UFC, WME-IMG. "Even us as players, where we have our union meetings and things of that nature, we're normally at each other's throats competing against each other. But we understand completely that a rising tide raises all boats. When you guys have this unity and you guys are operating together on the same page together, it does nothing but simply fortify the sport, make the sport better. Not just for the present, but also for future generations that are coming. So, it's extremely important."
Unlike NBA players and athletes in other major sports, elite MMA fighters in the UFC are not unionized. So, unlike their counterparts in the NBA, UFC fighters don't have salaries, year-round health care, the possibility of pensions, and no transparency into royalties for the way their names and likenesses are used and earn money for the company. Athletes in the UFC also receive a smaller percentage of revenue, collectively, than do any other major American sports league.