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UFC to Cover Accident Insurance for Its Fighters, Starting June 1st

(“This is a fantastic day for the UFC in general, and for Tito Ortiz specifically.”)

In a significant step forward for the care of its athletes, the UFC announced today that it will begin providing out-of-competition accident coverage for its roster of fighters, effective June 1st. While the UFC has always provided insurance policies to cover injuries sustained during fights, fighters were generally on their own for injuries suffered during training. The UFC’s new policy — underwritten by Houston Casualty Insurance Company — will cover those kinds of injuries, as well as non-training incidents such as automobile accidents. Zuffa will pay 100 percent of the premiums.

As Lorenzo Fertitta told Yahoo! Sports: “We looked at this as a necessity for the sport and something that needed to happen. We have talked about this for a long time and we have always had the same position when asked how fighters could have insurance outside of the fights. Like we said, it’s tough enough to get insurance just as a business, in and of itself, with how expensive it is…

When you go to an underwriter and say, ‘Hey, we potentially want to insure 400 ultimate fighters,’ they pretty much close the door on you pretty quickly. We didn’t just give up, given the responses we were getting and the answers we were getting from a lot of these carriers. We continued on and it has been a 24-to-36-month process we have been going through to do it. We were adamant we were going to find a way to put this together.”

Kevin Iole adds: “The insurance the fighters are being provided is separate and distinct from health care insurance many workers get through their employers, which pays for things like doctor’s visits, hospitalization and prescription drugs. Zuffa is not offering the fighters that type of coverage.”

Out-of-competition insurance has been brought up lately in discussions about the need for unions in MMA. Today’s announcement may suggest that the UFC is willing to make some necessary concessions to its fighters in order to prevent them from organizing. At any rate, it’s long overdue, and a commendable move by the promotion.

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Joedirt- May 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm
JoLo1.. we are actually in agreement then. I do think it's great. I suppose I'm saying more that it's about time the fighters got some more... not necessarily that the company has been holding out. I can't imagine the details in a complex insurance deal. I just hate seeing fighters make 10grand for a fight maybe 2-3 cards a year if they're lucky... when they are in the "big show" the UFC. I think it's great for the fighters who are not the big stars. Sorry for being a dick.
JoLo1- May 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm
JoeDirt, I understand exactly what you're trying to say, big companies cook the books so it looks like they didn't make any money. I get that, movie studios do it all the time, Star Wars is recorded as having a net loss. I got that you were talking about the actual money they made. I'm operating on your premise, and I'm still saying they have come up with this insurance plan in a reasonable amount of time. These are prizefighting promotors who are in it to make money, and not only have they invested millions in building a sport that other companies have now profited off of, they are now providing health insurance for their fighters when no one else does the same. And still there are people who say, "not soon enough". and I think it's bullshit
Joedirt- May 10, 2011 at 11:18 am
JoLo1... thanks for humoring me. You clearly have missed the point I was making... first off I think the UFC doing that is great and whether it is insurance or bigger paydays (which could have been done much earlier) I do think it is about time. I'm not trashing the UFC I'm just saying the fighters have deserved more for a while. Yes insurance takes a while, and I said I didn't have knowledge of the actual logistics of executing that plan... you also missed the point I was making about expenses and profit. I more than grasp the concept of accounting but clearly explaining to you how the UFC was making money in real life and losing money on paper is not possible so when you're done looking up the definition of "logistics" and trying to figure out what I'm explaining to you... maybe you can direct your energy to basic accounting. Cheers.
JoLo1- May 10, 2011 at 3:27 am

Anyone who assumes that all money made minus the fighters' saleries is profit is not worth talking to but I'll humor you.

Last time I checked 13 million total revenue for a fight is nowhere close to what you were talking about with Tyson, so you kind of made my point. Five/Six years ago they weren't making that much money.

But even if I accept your position, which I don't, let's say Zuffa should have been offering insurance in 2006, Fertitta said the process took 2-3 years to find a provider, so that brings us up to 2009, it is now early 2011. Is two years really a significant enough amount of time to be ripping Zuffa for not having done this earlier? Do you know how long it took the players' unions of other sports leagues to gain even status as actual bargaining units, let alone actual gain any kind of win wrt players' rights? A lot longer than two years, so I think the UFC is doing alright by the fighters
Joedirt- May 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm
JoLo... what are you talking about??? 6 years ago... just for an example... April of 2005, UFC 52...
Gate money... just over 2.5 million
PPV Buyrate.... 280,000 people paying $39.95
Total fighter payout... $519,500

Those are facts. Do the math... whether it be better paydays or insurance.... it's overdue.
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JoLo1- May 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm
JoeDirt, yes know they are making that kind of money NOW, but you and the article as well are both saying "it's about time" "long overdue" etc. and all this stuff about how it should have been done a long time ago. they weren't outselling Tyson pay per views 5 years ago, frig, they weren't even on PPV 7 or 8 years. What I'm asking is, if the process of finding an insurance provider and setting up the scheme took 2 years, at what point should Zuffa have been providing this insurance to satisfy all the naysayers?
Joedirt- May 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm
JoLo1, I'm not saying they haven't helped grow the sport with contributions, what I'm saying is... if the company makes a million dollars, spends half of that on wages, the other half on investment (gear, cage, lights etc) On paper they just broke even but really the people involved were paid a high wage, and now they have equipment for the next event. It's not a great example but it explains the concept. They grew very fast because they had the money to do so. By re-investing that money it is considered an expense, therefore bringing down their profit on paper. With that said... I have always said the fighters need more. Insurance wasn't at the top of my list because of how many inactive fighters there were and how many wanted to fight but maybe weren't being given matches. I don't know enough about the logistics of incorporating all of those variables. But I will say, when an event brings in the same number of people and MORE PPV buys than a Mike Tyson fight 30 years ago... I find it hard to believe a company is not making money when they could pay Tyson 25 million (30 years ago) and the UFC's TOTAL payout for all of the fighters combined is sitting under or around 2 million.
JoLo1- May 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm

they've only owned the company since 2000-2001, and by everyone's admission, only a few people still followed MMA at that point, they didn't start making big money (enough money that they could cover the fighters' insurance premiums for instance) until after they got back on PPV. and even then it wasn't until TUF 1 that mainstream people start buying the PPV's again.

And I'm not sure how reinvesting the money they made into growth (like fighting to get MMA sanctioned across North America and beyond) is looked at as a negative. Reinvesting in the product is what has made the product what it is today. Would you rather that money went to the fighters' insurance instead?

Think about what you pay for health insurance, now imagine what the insurance companies would charge you if you told them you're job was to get punched in the head repeatedly and have your arms and legs twisted to the point of almost snapping on a regular basis. How much do you think they would charge then? Now multiply that by 400 fighters. Ansd you wanted Zuffa to be covering that cost when the only money they were bringing in was from ticket sales to a 5000 seat arena?
Joedirt- May 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm
JoLo1... don't believe the whole "non profitable" business line. They've been making profit for more than 5 or 6 years. Anyone that has ever run a business even small... knows that on paper a business can lose money but in reality they are making tons. If they choose to reinvest that money to continue growth, on paper it looks like a loss. But at the end of the day, loss on paper, buildings, cars, equipment, cell phones, EVERYTHING... all paid for.
iadyn- May 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm
those evil sons of bitc**s, they'r even willing to pay insurance fees to prevent the fighters from making a union, and for srikeforce fighters too? We knew something bad would happen when baldies and casino owners gain too much power.
Joedirt- May 9, 2011 at 3:27 pm
About time. If the UFC did this to avoid a "union" then it just shows how powerful unions can be... if they did it on their own... then props to them. I wonder if there will be restrictions, ie if the fighter fails a steroid test will he still be covered? Is there a minimum fight number per year to qualify?
the silver hawaiian- May 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm
JoLo1- May 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm
"it's long overdue"

do you have any idea how much insurance would cost for someone who spends their life in combat sports? Zuffa may seem like they are all billionaires, but I think a lot of that is for show. They've only been a profit producing company for 5-6 years, and Fertitta said it has been a 2 year process. I think they did this as quickly as they could. Why do the articles on this site always have a negative bent wrt Zuffa?
Clyde- May 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm
If this doesn't get them to cut Tito as an unacceptable liability, nothing will.
Uppercut Magnet- May 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm
And we should all look back and thank Kalib Starnes for making this a real issue all those years back. He is a true front-runner (lol) of his time.
Just_the_tip- May 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm
El Famous = consistently funny.
El Famous Burrito- May 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm
In exchange for a volume discount, the UFC will force Joe Rogan to do radio commercials exclaiming that "Houston Casualty Insurance is FOR REAL!"
the silver hawaiian- May 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm
I'm waiting to hear how the UFCIZBADMMKAY morons spin this.

Tell us, please, in what ways this is NOT positive.
Fried Taco- May 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm
Unfortunately it's too late for Shane.
munche- May 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm
Alright, now how is Dundas going to spin this into a negative "Business As Usual" update? Strikeforce and UFC fighters on the same insurance plan? JUST MORE OF UFC OBVIOUSLY ASSIMILATING STRIKEFORCE INTO THE FOLD>
MKO- May 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm
evilsaywhat- May 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm
Nice move Zuffa!
evilsaywhat- May 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm
It's about time! These guys put their bodies on the line training to entertain us and succeed. If they get injured leading up to their next fight/payday, they shouldn't be out even more money to pay for medical bills.