Both Liddell and … “If we had a fighters’ association in the nature of the players’ associations of football, basketball, hockey and baseball then there would be programs and health care and disability options to support the athletes who have gone out sacrificing their backs and their knees, their brains and their youth for the game. Rashad Evans was riding a 10-fight unbeaten streak before entering the Octagon against UFC legend Chuck Liddell. The 50-year-old Hall of Famer was on Ground Zero of what Forbes estimates to be a $7 billion business today, helping popularize a sport that once closer resembled a scene from Fight Club than Vegas events doting Instagram models and Tom Brady and Shaq in attendance.. On our Endless Hustle podcast, we spoke … Canadian lightweight TJ Grant went from UFC title contender to working in a potash mine in Saskatchewan after suffering a concussion that put an end to his fighting career. ... headlined by former UFC champions Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Before Conor or Ronda or Khabib or Jones, there was Chuck Liddell.

They didn’t have real health insurance while they were fighting, they don’t have any sort of post-career plan for good healthcare now that they aren’t in the UFC,” said Smith. Among other things, this required fighters to inform the UFC of their whereabouts, including when they were on vacation. For example, the promotion reached a $70m deal with Reebok in 2014 and subsequently banned its athletes from wearing their own sponsored fight gear, something which was a handy source of income for struggling fighters. Fighters such as Lauren Murphy, Nina Ansaroff, Zak Cummings, and James Krause were forced to resort to public fundraising campaigns to cover the expenses incurred during their UFC debuts. He is a close friend of UFC President Dana White. While Liddell does not explicitly admit that financial strife pushed him out of retirement – he recently said it was about his “personal journey” – if money troubles were in play it would mirror the plight of fighters struggling to make ends meet following successful UFC careers. White was a formative figure in the growth of mixed martial arts. Yet despite the fact that UFC fighters are independent contractors, the UFC exerts a level of control that is more representative of an employer.

It should be noted that even leagues with strong unions, such as the NFL, have former players who struggle financially. Smith says the moral of the story is that “fighters need to take care of themselves – their health, their money.”. Chuck Liddell (right) and Tito Ortiz fought in California last month but the bout was widely criticised. Their fight turned into a repugnant spectacle between two competitors long past retirement age.

Timothy Johnson, Sarah Moras and Paul Felder have opened Go Fund Me pages despite being several fights into their UFC careers, while Jessica Andrade recently sold her own UFC gear to cover her expenses. He was a coach on the first season of SpikeTV's "The Ultimate Fighter" and for years was the face of the UFC as well as the sport of MMA. Retired UFC flyweight Neil Seery, who worked full-time as a warehouse manager in Dublin during his UFC career, sums up the situation well. “The UFC hasn’t taken care of any of its fighters. But we don’t and that isn’t on anybody except the fighters. So why was a man who will turn 50 next December still fighting? I’ve had five fights in the UFC, I’m about to have my sixth, but there’s not a chance in hell that I’d be able to pay my mortgage for the year and support my family off that.”. UFC on ESPN+ 38 predictions: Is it Brian Ortega or 'Korean Zombie' on Fight Island? Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell is a retired UFC light heavyweight, UFC Hall of Famer, UFC light heavyweight champion and one of the greatest light heavyweights in the history of professional mixed martial arts (MMA). At 43, Ortiz is hardly in his fighting prime but he is youthful compared to the 48-year-old Liddell. Sign up for our newsletter and get every update delivered to your inbox! Ultimate Fighter veteran Bubba McDaniel started a Go Fund Me to cover funeral expenses for his infant son’s death. Please check your email for a confirmation. “So they sacrifice themselves in hopes of getting glory but the UFC doesn’t take care of them while they are fighting and they definitely don’t take care of them after they are done fighting so those sacrifices for the greater good of their family and to improve their situation become sad and sadistic instead of inspiring and desirable.”. © 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Jessica Aguilar proud to witness growth of women's MMA: 'We're established'. Despite that, Smith believes a fighters’ association is vital. John Alessio had a stint as an Uber driver before becoming a police officer in Las Vegas. Last month, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions held its inaugural mixed martial arts show in California, headlined by former UFC champions Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. “I don’t know if [the fighters’] resistance to standing up for themselves is because the UFC has fostered such a hostile and individualistic environment where every fighter is in it for themselves or if it is because I am the one leading the charge,” Leslie Smith, a former UFC fighter and founder of Project Spearhead, told the Guardian. There are several other actors involved, including the California State Athletic Commission, which regulated last month’s fight (the commission has since handed Liddell an indefinite medical suspension, making it unlikely he will fight in the US again). Despite countless UFC fighters finding themselves in dire financial straits, athletes have not banded together to form a union. People think once you get to the UFC you’re made for life.

In 2015, the UFC imposed an out-of-competition drug testing program in partnership with the United States Anti-Doping Agency. “Every fighter thinks they are going to be the one that impresses the world and most importantly Dana White,” says Smith. Yet while the UFC has shown it is willing to act like an employer when it suits, it has yet to provide any pensions or legitimate healthcare for fighters outside of the “accident insurance” they have for pre-fight injuries. Liddell has fought a who's who list of MMA greats. Some of the blame also rests on Liddell’s management team, who allowed him to fight despite his deteriorated state, as well the promoter for profiting off a repugnant spectacle that should never have taken place. The UFC did not respond to a request for comment for this article. Liddell is a former Division I amateur wrestler for California Polytechnic State University where in 1995 he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting. All rights reserved. His mainstream crossover appeal has landed him sundry acting appearances including spots on HBO's Entourage, MTV's Punk'd with Ashton Kutcher, and Cradle 2 the Grave with Jet Li. John Alessio had a stint as an Uber driver, cover funeral expenses for his infant son’s death, UFC title contender to working in a potash mine in Saskatchewan, forced to resort to public fundraising campaigns, recently sold her own UFC gear to cover her expenses, are not legally protected by employment and labor laws, handed Liddell an indefinite medical suspension, 78% of NFL players struggle financially after retirement. In the case of UFC fighters, this legal distinction means that fighters bear the cost of their own expenses, such as training camps, and flights and accommodation for cornermen. He began his career training with John Lewis, but spent the majority of his time with John Hackleman at The Pit in San Luis Obispo, California. Project Spearhead, meanwhile, has not managed to get enough fighters to join its cause despite stating it would advocate for medical coverage beyond the incidental insurance the UFC provides. Despite pulling in huge revenues, the UFC provides minimal care for its fighters leading many into financial trouble, Thu 6 Dec 2018 10.00 GMT By: Danny Segura. He last fight was at UFC 115 lost to Rich Franklin by knockout. You'll now receive the top MMA Junkie stories each day directly in your inbox. Please check your email for a confirmation. The arrangement lasted until WME-IMG purchased UFC in 2016, at which point he no longer had a steady income. In many ways, Liddell’s is a cautionary tale in the struggles facing MMA fighters in the twilight of their career. The Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA), which has existed for nearly a decade, has focused its attention on an antitrust lawsuit against the UFC and introducing the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to MMA. While the UFC is partially to blame for the trajectory of Liddell’s career, they had nothing to do with his ugly fight with Ortiz.

This, too, was negotiated without the fighters’ input. The UFC classifies its fighters as independent contractors.

Liddell dominated the UFC’s light-heavyweight division more than a decade ago but the man who stepped into the cage against Ortiz was a shell of his former self. Those names include Guy Mezger, Jeff Monson, Kevin Randleman, Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Keith Jardine, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Alistair Overeem, Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Jeremy Horn, Maurilo Bustamante, Amar Suloev, Renato Sobral and Vernon White.



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