By Andreas Hale
In case you haven’t heard, Jacob Volkmann is a disgruntled former employee of the UFC who is preparing to start a new chapter in his career when he faces Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm at World Series of Fighting 3 this Friday, June 14th, in Las Vegas. Of course, being a disgruntled ex-UFC fighter doesn’t make Volkmann unique, as everyone from former champions and title contenders like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Jon Fitch to lower-tier fighters like John Cholish have been airing their dirty laundry recently.
Volkmann was recently cut after a loss to Bobby Green at UFC 156 back in February despite having a 6-2 record in the Octagon as a lightweight, after starting his UFC career with an 0-2 run at welterweight. The walking papers came as a shock to Volkmann who couldn’t understand how he could be sent on his merry way. However, Volkmann’s departure came secondary to the shocking announcement that Jon Fitch had also been released despite having had a crack at Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight title and holding a stellar 14-3-1 record in the UFC. If you ask Volkmann, he’ll tell you that it is because the UFC is looking to condition their fans into watching guys who stand and bang instead of crafty ground competitors.
“That was the biggest reason why I was released,” Volkmann says of his fighting strategy, which often sees him bringing fighters to the canvas rather than trading punches. With only one of his UFC victories coming by way of stoppage, Volkmann has often been labeled “boring” by the type of fans who prefer their MMA fights to look like bar brawls. And though Volkmann’s success should speak for itself, he says that the UFC prefers its fans to see mindless clubbing rather than a ground game of chess. “They are making their fans like the stand up fighters. They could put more ground fighters on the card but they are dictating who watches and what is considered [exciting]. The mainstream isn’t promoting the ground game.”
Whether Volkmann’s declaration is true depends on the viewer. But what most fans don’t understand is the disparity in pay between the UFC’s top-tier fighters and the rest of the bunch. Volkmann has fought on his fair share of main cards but says that the perception that the UFC takes care of its fighters financially is completely false.
“They don’t take care of their fighters all that well,” Volkmann says, while citing that he made $50,000 last year while going 3-0. But the money isn’t the entire issue. “I’m talking about benefits. Their health care is a joke. There is no retirement. If you get injured, you don’t get paid. I’d like to see you get paid something when you are injured.”
You may have heard about Volkmann’s idea of starting a fighters’ union as well to ensure that fighters are protected. “I’d like to see a two-year contract with two fights a year minimum, where the minimum pay is $15,000 for the fight and $15,000 to win,” Volkmann explained. “At least you get paid a minimum of $30,000 a year and I think the UFC can afford to pay their fighters that.”
For him, the pay is fair considering the amount of money that he has to shell out on everything ranging from training camps to medical expenses.
“They don’t pay our training bills,” Volkmann continued. “Last year alone I spent $16,000 on medical expenses and health care premiums. I pay $1,000 to my gym per fight. Then I pay my boxing coach so that varies. I pay for my own equipment. I pay for gas and travel as well.”
Volkmann says that his new deal with World Series of Fighting doesn’t pay as well as the UFC, but that is mainly because the organization is still new. He chose to fight for WSoF rather than Bellator because WSoF offered him a fight every 4-6 months, and the opportunity to compete for their inaugural lightweight title was appealing. As for the UFC, Volkmann says that he has no plans of returning regardless of whether he puts together enough wins for the leading fight organization to give him a call. He figures that he’s said more than enough to put him in the permanent doghouse but that won’t prevent him from working his ass off to ensure that a fighters, union will exist.
“Other sports leagues have them so it is only a matter of time before there is one in the UFC,” Volkmann says. “I’m hoping it happens within my lifetime. It would be nice to see it in the next ten years. The UFC is trying hard to fight it and anybody that speaks against them or says that they want to form a union, the get rid of like Jon Fitch.”
With all the talk of the UFC and unions, the battle Volkmann has to focus on is inside of the cage against Beerbohm. After all, if he is unable to win, he may have a hard time finding a place to fight in the first place.
“I’ve been working on my standup every day and getting more confident just in case somebody has the power to stop my takedown attempts,” Volkmann says of his approach to Beerbohm. While his strength has always been in his ground game, Volkmann knows that he needs to become more well rounded if he wants to be considered an elite fighter. However, the man who now calls himself “Dr. Feelgood” believes that Beerbohm won’t have much to offer when it comes to stopping Volkmann from what he does best.
“He’s not even close to being able to stop my takedowns,” he said when asked how the fight will end up. “This is going to be a ground battle and I’m hoping to finish it. He seems to give up his back pretty easily and that’s nice for me.”
Considering that Volkmann is one of those fighters who more often than not leaves the fight in the hands of the judges, he’s keenly aware that he needs to become a finisher in order to excel in the World Series of Fighting. And aside from the standup, the other thing Volkmann says that he has worked on is keeping the Obama slander out of his post-fight interviews.
“Unless somebody brings something up about Obama, I have nothing more to say,” Volkmann says. “I have had enough of that. Besides, I stopped saying stuff because he stopped forcing foolish policies. He has been doing pretty well at doing absolutely nothing.”