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Various Fighters Confirm They’re Totally F*cking Themselves Up Doing This MMA Sh*t


("That’s the great thing about a Health Savings Account, James. The funds you put in there aren’t subject to federal income tax. It’s a no-brainer … no pun intended." PicProps: WorldStarHipHop.com)

File this under “Stuff We All Know, But Feel Uncomfortable Saying Out Loud.”

Serious, thought-provoking journalist Ben Fowlkes has a new piece out on Thursday in his continuing “The Truth About …” series over at MMA Fighting.com. This time Old Dad turns his steely, deadpan gaze on the long-term physical cost professional fighters must pay in order to live their dreams. The consensus from the athletes interviewed here seems to be, “Yeah, we know we’ll all be crippled or crazy someday, but it’s worth it. Sort of.” While many of the lasting effects of MMA competition may not yet even fully be known (since it’s such a comparatively young sport), credit Fowlkes for also getting comment from high-profile fight doc Johnny Benjamin, who says some interesting things about the risks involved in fighting, the need for comprehensive health coverage and – gasp! – maybe even a fighter’s union.

First though, who better to ask about his own mortality than a fighter you know is going to give it to you straight, or at least pop-off in a fairly entertaining way? So, what do you think about your future, Jason “Mayhem” Miller


"Athletes know (the risks). We do," Miller says. "We’re not dumb. It’s like that new research that links head injuries and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Well, duh, science. Thanks for telling us what athletes already know. We know what we’re doing to ourselves. It’s the elephant in the room. We’re giving our bodies for the entertainment of the masses. I’m okay with that. I’ve had plenty of surgeries. I know there’s a chance that I could be retarded. I know that …

"It’s one of those things where, when you start out in this as a kid you look at the older guys and think, man, he’s fucked up. That’s going to be me. I remember the day I got my cauliflower ear I was like, well, here I am. Then my nose got smashed and it’s like, here we go. I knew this would happen. I just didn’t know it would happen this quick."

Enter former UFC champ and current Strikeforce color-commentator Pat Miletich, who confirms that most fighters know what they’re getting into when they first walk into the gym. "Even somebody with one eye and half a brain recognizes the risks,” Miletich says. “But what are you willing to do for fame and fortune?"

Fair enough and – like we’ve always said – we’re as big on personal responsibility as the next guy. If an athlete signs up to chase the bright lights of MMA stardom, what happens after that is pretty much on him. But Miletich’s comment does beg the assertion that the “fame and fortune” we’re talking about for most MMA fighters is much smaller than, say, pro football players. Take UFC veteran Jeff Curran, for example. If you consider the complete body of fighters in the world, we’d wager that Curran ranks in the most successful five percent or so (yeah, we’re ball-parking it), but while he definitely ain’t get rich doing this, he is getting pretty effed up, he says.

"I’ve had a total of seven broken ribs, from three different times," Curran says. "Four of those seven were broken more than once. I’ve had three surgeries to one knee. I’ve had a plate put in my forearm and then, eight years later, removed from my forearm. I’ve had fractures in my orbital. I’ve got no feeling on the left side of my face. I’ve got a completely deviated septum from being punched in the nose so much. Both feet have been broken and both hands have been broken a number of times. I have arthritis in my knees. In both shoulders I’ve had torn labrums and now they’re developing cysts inside the joint. And that doesn’t even count all the little things."

Which brings us to Benjamin, who makes some solid (read: kind of scary) points about the basic lack of long-term planning among fighters and the absence of the retirement perks that exist in other major sports.

"The thing that worries me most for MMA fighters is more general, and that’s their lack of health care coverage going into their later years …,” he says. “It’s not just the injuries they’ll suffer at a higher rate than they otherwise would have, but they don’t have programs in place like the NFL or Major League Baseball … to protect these guys down the road. There’s no health care for them. There’s no pension plan for them. There’s none of the safety-net features that the other major organizations have, so what are they going to do?”

Answer: Nobody knows. But as the first couple of generations of MMA fighters ages, you can bet they’re starting to think about it more and more.

"I remember my wife, I was just dating her at the time and I was about 20 years old and she’d say, ‘I can’t believe you’re putting yourself through this. Do you know what you’re going to be like when you’re 30?’” Curran says. “Now I’m in my 30s, and it’s like, what am I going to be like when I’m 40 or 50? … Hey, sometimes I wonder what it’s going to feel like tomorrow."

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Joedirt- January 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Shnook1200 I'm not sure the small percentage of professional fighters would even be a blip on the map as far as health care is concerned... not when compared to smoking, eating habits and worse; forged health card numbers.
Sho Nuff- January 21, 2011 at 10:20 am
Which brings us back to Volkmann and Obamacare. Under our now existing (and not going to be repealed, c'mon GOP, how about doing some actual work on something that matters, like, I don't know, jobs?) healthcare system, these retiring fighters will be able to get and maintain coverage. What do you think their chances are right now, with a litany of preexisting conditions and past surgeries?
Shnook1200- January 21, 2011 at 8:50 am
"their lack of health care coverage going into their later years.": To relate this to why some Canadians don't want fights up here, when Canadian fighters age and fall apart, the government (all the tax payers) foot the bill. Just a wee bit of outside the USA persepective.
Joedirt- January 21, 2011 at 6:27 am
RwilsonR.... I agree MMA cannot be compared to football, but keep in mind every player in the NFL makes enough money to call it a career. Even the college players do receive something... usually an education. When people decided to train in an art they went to tournaments, classes, traveled to other cities etc, all for free because of their choice but with that said, the UFC is the big show, it means you are one of the best in the world, money is being pulled into those events in large amounts because of the fighters, yet the total payout is around 2 million. Boxing shows that pulled the same revenue 20 years ago paid out more than that. Truth is, and most people will attack me for this but the UFC has some very tough fighters but I don't think any of them are the best at what they do. Without the money there many people who could have successful careers don't try , but the ufc and the media are a hype machine so some people buy into everything they say.
uzitotinbaby- January 21, 2011 at 5:12 am
Yeah Ben Fowlkes used to write for CP. They're really the only two I read as well, sometimes Bloodyelbow, Cagechatter, and Middleeasy, but these two are probably the best.
twoleftfeet- January 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm
@ziggysdick
What you said is unintentionally the funniest shit I read today. The guy who wrote this used to write for cp.
Joe-Say Aldo- January 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm
Sadly, yes. To the UFC, Tito Ortiz is more valuable than a school teacher. In fact, he is very valuable. This is because "casual" MMA fans who don't know anything about MMA recognize names like Tito Ortiz, Chuck Lidell and Randy Couture. That is why Tito, who would've been shit-canned by the UFC years ago if he wasn't so famous, is kept around by the UFC. He is a show pony.
ZiggysDick- January 20, 2011 at 10:09 pm
noob alert:

This is straight lifted from mmafighting. Referenced and linked, but still straight lifted. I really only read CP and mmafighting. I'm assuming this is a pretty common practice? A little weird.
myklhoey- January 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm
@rwilsomr
well phukin said
AndyInflammatory- January 20, 2011 at 7:29 pm
Saying you were "born a fighter" makes as much sense as saying "I was born an ambulance driver" or "I was born a golf caddy" - sounds cool, but largely rejects the inherent nature of freedom of choice, self-determination and the individual consciousness.

Then you get to make wah-face and demand more money for punching dudes.

A.I - Born a Maintenance Engineer - been Maintenance Engineering my whole life bro.


Joedirt- January 20, 2011 at 7:14 pm
I've complained about what fighters make for years. The top fighters yes make a nice living, but that's it. If a fighter has signed with the UFC they have made the "big time" of MMA and most of the fighters have to train AFTER WORK. How can you be the best in the world when you train AFTER work. Over 25 years ago boxing would pull in the same money for a PPV and would pay Mike Tyson 30 million... I'm not saying they need to do that... but when the total payout for the entire night is less than 2 million and some televised fighters are making 5 grand to show... it's not exactly fair. Imagine making the big time... paying gym memberships, training hard daily after work, paying coaching and diet etc.... then making 5 grand.
One thing nobody mentioned about why people train... simple... it's nature... we're men... deep down every man wants to be a fighter.
2 words.... Fighters Association.
jizzninja- January 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm
Nut shots should be legal! It would cause less head shots and stop these tards from multiplying
RwilsonR- January 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm
It is also a false comparison to compare to the NFL. Even putting aside that the NFL has had time to become a much more established and lucrative sport, the comparison still fails. If the top guys in MMA make millions, but 99% of the other guys don't make enough to pay for their healthcare, well, the same should be said for all of football. Guys that make it into the NFL are the top 1% of their sport. There are just more of them than there are UFC champions, because there are more football players in general than there are mma fighters. There are plenty of college and high school football players who never make a dime, and still have lifelong injuries. Their healthcare isn't covered, and they made shit for the devotion they put into their sport. That was their choice. It sucks, but it also shouldn't be anybody else's responsibilty to pay for that choice.

Anytime you engage in any activity that might result in any harm to you, whether it is kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, football, or eating a fucking cheeseburger or drinking a fucking beer, the choice should be yours, as should the consequences.
Canadian Chronic- January 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm
purchase the ticket, take the ride, prepare to deal with the consequences.

Nobody is forcing anyone to fight, its a choice. that being said, they need a fighters union to ensure basic health/pyschiatric care. its unfortunate that there is no plan for after fighting for alot of guys and they dont make millions n millions playing the sport, but you will see alot of the same injuries in any professional contact sport.

Jebus, look at fake wrestling, and how many off those old guys have offed themselves in recent years, and that shit is fake.
anderson wanderlei paulo thiago alves silva- January 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm
i would like to see a story of how little other fighters get paid
uzitotinbaby- January 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm
The best fighters in the UFC are millionaires. They get pay per view percentages which is where their real money comes from. GSP gets what like $400k per fight, but with PPV % he gets over a mil. I think the top guys will be just fine. Even the upper echelon that don't get a %, they do pretty good, maybe not enough to live like fat cats the rest of their lives, but a better living than most. The mid and low level guys, yeah it's rough.
jimbonics- January 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm
DO YOU WANT TO BE A FUCKING FIGHTER?!?!

No sir I do not.
cecils_pupils- January 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm
Who the hell is this Ben Fowlkes everyone keeps talking about? If he doesn't write for Cage Potato I don't give a shit, son.
Kimbos Bread- January 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm
@ Dangadadang

War-Machine is that you?

I think Morningwood was referring to paid actresses.
twoleftfeet- January 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm
Wow Joe Say, what you just pointed out to me really put things in a different light. Really odd how we value things, I mean is Tito really more valueable than a school teacher?
BONGTAR- January 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm
Nobody would be hard on Brett Favre if he just rearranged a few letters in his name. NOBODY messes with Bever Fartt.
DangadaDang- January 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm
We do morningwood, we do
Joe-Say Aldo- January 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm
Even the best fighters won't retire with enough money to live off of the rest of their lives. And when you consider the healthcare costs alot of them will end up incurring in their old age, most of them will actually be on the lossing end when it's all said and done, the sport will have cost them much more than it ever gave them.

Look at any UFC event payroll. The main event fighters maybe get a paycheck that's in the low six figures. After taxes and paying their trainers and cornermen and what not, they probably take home less than $100,000 a fight. And thats the best case scenario in MMA. Lower level, no-name fighters have it much worse. They're lucky if they get 10 or 20 grand per fight before taxes and expenses. And considering they only get 3 fights a year, they aren't making any more money than your typical public school teacher. And as for fighters who never make it to the big show (UFC, Strikeforce, etc.) Well... they're just doing it for the love of the game I guess. Because they don't get paid didley squat. They're lucky if their fight purse covers the gas they used up driving to the event.
Morningwood- January 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm
I wonder if porn stars realize the hazards of getting butt banged and throat poked?
KarmaAteMyCat- January 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm
See I have to admit that this is something we all wonder about. Every single one of us(Fighters). It's hard sometimes because I've been a combat sports fan for so many years and I've seen what can happen to the guys in Boxing/KickBoxing. It can end disastrous which is the scary part because our sport though it has never had any serious deaths or injuries(guy form NC who lied on papers doesnt count). The end result in any form of combat can be Serious Injury or death. Most fighters know what their getting themselves into we train combat sports, that in its own should set off some alarms.

Think about it. How often do you hear a fighter complain about an injury going into the fight? I'm not saying every fighter who comes out with a loss/win and blames it on the injury isn't lying. I'm just saying NONE of US fight 100% I don't give a rats ass what they tell you during an interview or during a promo. Combat training is always intense, I've seen someone take the lightest of knee's to the body in training and just drop.

Some people are born to be Bio engineers, other Oncologists in hospitals, I was born to be a fighter and I know the risks. I can tell you that the one thing I worry about sometimes is what someone might do if they got me into some sort of key lock because I know I'd break their arm in competition. At the end of the day we make our own beds, we make our own choices. as someone who comes home on a day to day basis with bruised shins,black eyes, and smile on his face everynight because he loves what he does. Let me tell you that I love this sport and whatever Tomorrow brings, two things are for sure.. I will continue to train Mixed Martial Arts and Posting on Cagepotato(Even if I end up using a wheel chair and my mouth while posting)
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