Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters are independent contractors, so if they don’t compete, they don’t get paid. That means all the combatants who were expected to throw hands in London, Columbus, and Portland are going to lose a “show” purse they were probably counting on.
In addition, a fighter who doesn’t get paid can’t pay his/her trainers or management team, which is probably why Ali Abdelaziz, head of Dominance MMA and one of the most prolific managers in the industry, wants supporters of the coronavirus quarantine to zip their lips.
“Some of my fighters are reaching out to me because financially, they don’t have money to pay rent, they don’t have money to buy milk for their children,” Abdelaziz said on social media. “And for you out there, the media, criticizing certain kinds of promoter because you don’t like him, or you’re in bed with another network, whatever it is, you don’t have a right. You sit behind your desk and write these comments.”
Folks, the promotion postponed its remaining March fight cards back on the 16th of this month, which means fighters have only been in limbo for 10 days. How are they suddenly out of rent money? And not to be a dick about it, but if your fighter can’t afford milk for their kids, then you’ve done a shitty job as manager.
Personally, I’m anxious to get MMA back on the airwaves but at the same time, I want to make sure that our thirst for combat sports doesn’t come at the expense of fighter safety. Most fighters are willing to die inside the cage and not surprisingly, would probably be willing to die outside of it, as well.
That’s why cornermen have towels and sanctioned fights have referees, because sometimes we have to make tough choices for the betterment of the sport.
And let’s be real here for a second. If UFC wants to stage a fight card, it’s going to stage a fight card. There is nothing anyone in the MMA media can do to prevent that and I doubt anyone charged with legislation would be pressured by a handful of dissenting tweets.
But hey, Abdelaziz has to stand up and speak for his fighters, I get it.
The promotion is currently looking for a spot to host its UFC 249 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place on April 18. A city and venue are expected to be announced in the coming days; however, safety concerns have been raised about transporting fighters during a global pandemic.
“You cannot speak on their behalf,” Abdelaziz said. “If they’re healthy and willing to fight, they can fight. A lot these fighters under contract need fights. Guess what, if something goes wrong, who’s going to be sued? Who’s going to be in trouble? Let them be. Fighters need to get paid to support their families. Please, if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say it, because you’re not in a position to say it.”
Take that, wimps.