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And Now He’s Retired/Angry: Cody McKenzie Blasts the UFC and Everything It Stands For in Farewell Interview

(Fightin’ Guy Fawkes McKenzie was the best McKenzie. / Photo via Getty)

We’re not going to burn another paragraph listing the ways that Cody McKenzie‘s career has gone poorly in the last year. In fact, McKenzie is exactly the kind of guy who Count Bisping was talking about when he dismissed the UFC class-action lawsuit as sour grapes from promotional washouts.

But consider this: The sheer fact that McKenzie made it to the UFC and then earned three victories inside the Octagon means that his MMA career was far more successful than the vast majority of fighters who try their hands at this sport. It’s weird to put it in those terms, but Cody McKenzie was an elite fighter, relatively speaking.

McKenzie officially announced his retirement from MMA yesterday with the following tweet…

Then, he sat down for a long, must-read interview with BleacherReport’s Hunter Homistek, in which he described what a miserable, impoverished existence it was to compete in the UFC as a non-star. His words echo those of numerous “low-level” fighters who often lost money trying to compete in the UFC and were treated like average regional-card shmucks forced to scramble for food and lodging. We’ve compiled all the best bits below…


“I’d compete if the money was there. I got into it not for the money, but at the same time, you hit a certain age and you have to grow up. I want a real house and property and all that, like everybody else. And you can’t have that in the fight world unless you’re a top-10 guy…

All the years I fought for them, I averaged $50,000 a year, and they never paid for medicals, they wouldn’t help out with bringing out cornermen and s–t.

They’d bring out one cornerman, but when you have a whole team that needs to go, at the end of the year, you pretty much made about $10,000 fighting for the UFC after paying for medicals and paying for everything and factoring in the expenses of training and all that s–t. You don’t make s–t, and it’s f—–g b——t. I’m over it…

When I fought in New Jersey, it cost me $4,000 in medicals just to get to the damn fight, and the UFC doesn’t pay for a penny of that. They don’t help out with any medicals, they don’t give a s–t. They’re just a big corporation selling merchandise

The UFC is the pinnacle of the sport, and unless you’re kissing their ass and f—–g s—–g (UFC President) Dana’s (White’s) d–k, you’re not making any money. I see these chumps in the UFC with 4-5 records or 3-0 records, and I’m like, “Who the f–k are these people?”…

My first three fights with the UFC, they expected me to fight for free while locked in a s—y-ass house. The UFC is a joke to me. They’re a multibillion-dollar company, and you have to sign a three-year contract to get one fight with them? What? What kind of s–t is that?

I paid 40 percent of my purse in New Jersey to fight Leonard Garcia. I paid 40 percent of my purse before I even got to it. Forty percent. And that’s before paying for coaches, paying for everything else, you know?

So there’s just no money in the sport, and I’m to the point in life where I want to grow up, and this is some kid s–t it almost seems like unless you’re a top-tier guy, which I wasn’t born with that athletic ability…

Fighting is becoming a rich kids’ sport. That’s the bottom line. It’s becoming a rich kids’ sport. When I got into it, I could fight and not have to pay $4,000 in medicals. Now, just to do a fight in North America, I have to pay hella money in medicals. It’s a f—–g joke.

They try to watch every little thing we do, and the bottom line is that it’s for rich kids now. If you have the money to pay for all the supplements and all the s–t to make you bigger, faster, stronger, then you’re going to do good. But if you’re just a martial artist anymore, you’re done…

When I went into The Ultimate Fighter house, I was like $23,000 in debt. I remember in The Ultimate Fighter they had that coaches’ challenge where they were giving the two rich coaches $10,000 to hit some baseballs, and they were paying all the fighters $1,500.

And most of the fighters were stoked on it! They’re like, “Oh my god! We’re going to win $1,500!”I’m like, you guys are scrubs! I come from Alaska, where $1,500 doesn’t get you through a week. It’s all about where you’re from.

I’ve always made good money in Alaska and my career. I commercial fish, but I’m to the point where I gotta go get a job and start building a real life…

All these girls coming into the UFC and s–t with no records, and even the guys. I watched two 3-0 guys fight each other on TV the other day. I’m like, “Why the f–k am I watching two 3-0 guys fighting in the UFC? They’re f—–g 3-0. That’s not even a record.”

Or this CM Punk guy. It’s all politics, and I’m just sick of it. I know I can fight. I’ll beat CM Punk’s f—–g ass, but nobody cares because he’s famous and rich, and that’s what people want to see, this guy.

And I don’t have anything against him personally, but it’s just the politics of it…

Yeah, I heard that guy talking. He’s a f—–g joke. He’s like six months out and he’s like, “I’m really nervous.” I’m like, come on, you p—y. You’re nervous and you’re six months out? I don’t get nervous until they close that cage door. That’s when I get nervous. You better shake that nerves s–t off or you’re going to freeze in there, you big f—–g girl.

I don’t even know why that guy’s doing it. I kind of do, like a lot of guys try to do it, but he’ll do it once and quit. It’s not a fun thing, fighting people. People think it’s so great, but they’ve never done it. Those people have never f—–g done it. Fighting’s not fun, you know?

The training is fun. The martial arts, learning the martial arts is fun. But when it comes fight night, nobody has fun with the fight. No, it’s nerve-wracking as f–k. You’re getting your f—–g head punched in and your body kicked to s–t. It’s not fun.

But the UFC’s a joke to me, anymore. This WMMA (women’s MMA), I watched some girl fight the other day. She was 4-5, she had a losing record,  but she was ranked No. 13 in the world. I was like, “Oh my god, are you kidding me?” I won like 28 in a row, amateur and pro, before I even got a chance, then they made me fight for free in the TUF house, you know?

A bunch of dumb fans are like, “Those aren’t real fights.” Oh, they’re not? They felt like real fights…

Like I said, $50,000 a year is what I averaged [in the UFC], and that’s before expenses. After expenses, I’m averaging about $10,000 a year. That’s s–t money when you’re traveling, you’re on the road, you have to eat out.

I remember when they put me up at the MGM to fight Chad Mendes, I was broke as a joke. I had to jog six miles off the strip just to find a cheap place to eat. I couldn’t eat anywhere on the strip because I didn’t have any f—–g money, and I’m fighting the No. 2-ranked guy in the world. It’s a f—–g joke

I remember I asked for a hotel room once because I brought my full team. That was the last time I ever brought a full team with me. They always wanted three people in my corner to look professional, you know?

So I finally brought a full team to one of my fights, and one of my cornermen was snoring and sleepwalking and s–t and keeping me up all night, so I asked the UFC for another room. It was like $500 for a room at this place we were staying. I couldn’t afford another room. But they wouldn’t get me another room.

They said, “No. Look, we can’t get you another hotel room.” I’m like, “I’m not getting any f—–g sleep.” It’s like, thanks a lot, d–k heads. You guys are a multibillion-dollar corporation, and you can’t afford another hotel room when you’re already renting the whole hotel out probably?

I got story after story like that. I always felt I was mistreated in the UFC. They take care of certain guys, and they take care of their guys who will kiss their ass and b–w them, but that’s not me. …I never respected Dana White, and I still don’t. I think he’s a greedy a—–e, and I’m glad they’re getting sued…

At this point, I don’t even care. I’m out of the UFC, and I’m not going to see a penny of it. At the end of the day, I’m sure if a bunch of lawyers sue the UFC, it’s going to be a lot of lawyers who get richer and not a bunch of fighters, you know?

Fighters never come up in my opinion. There will be one or two of them, maybe, and that inspires the rest of them, but at the end of the day, fighters don’t come up. And I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but that’s just how it is.

I haven’t seen many fighters get rich, and I’ve been in the game for a very long time. Most of them just struggle, and they all say the same thing, they all do it because they love it. They do it for the passion of the sport. It’s too bad to me when there is millions and billions of dollars floating around. It’s ridiculous how much money is flowing in, but it’s not going to the right people…

I know plenty of fighters who are way better than the guys in [the UFC], but they’re ugly, you know? The bottom line is the UFC is about beauty. If you look good and if you’re a pretty boy or a pretty girl, you’re going to make a lot more. It’s show business. It’s not the fight game. It’s show business

I respect all the fighters tremendously, even the ones who suck, even the ones who are fighting on national television with s–t records. I still respect them more than the people running the shows who are ripping the fighters off, you know? The athletes, I respect every fighter, no matter what I say about fighters. I even respect this CM Punk who’s never had to go to the very top. I respect him for wanting to do it, for stepping up and fighting somebody. I think he’s a putz for going to the No. 1 organization without even doing any work to get there, but at the end of the day, I still respect him for wanting to try a fight.

I look back and I’ll always appreciate all the athletes who helped me out, like the Diaz brothers and people like that. They’d let me come stay at their houses and learn good martial arts. I was just some Opie from the country, and they’d let me stay with them and learn good s–t. I respect all those guys. At the end of the day, I had a lot of good times, but I’m done chasing this f—–g dream. I’m to the point where it’s not worth it to get knocked out for pennies.

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