The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) has made mixed martial arts hugely popular and successful all over the world. Thanks to Dana White at the helm, it’s a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Just a few short decades ago, MMA was illegal in several states in the USA. But that’s not the case anymore.
It’s been called “human cockfighting” by the world leaders, and many politicians have made it their personal agenda to stop the “modern-day gladiatorial” fighting. But it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere since it brings in so much money. Today, the UFC ranks itself as the world’s most valuable sports franchise, which is pretty astounding considering Dana White and the Fertitta brothers acquired the company for a measly $2 million back in 2001.
Here are 20 unsettling, sketchy facts that keep the UFC from becoming even more mainstream, such as football or baseball.
20 Reebok’s Single Sponsorship Is Restrictive
In late 2014, Reebok became the sole provider of apparel and official sponsor of the UFC. Reebok was required to pay $70 million to the UFC over a six-year period, and every fighter was forced to wear their labeled attire.
Single sponsorship is unfair and restrictive, though, because the loss of individual sponsors hurts revenue for UFC owners and fighters. Many former UFC employees, such as Chael Sonnen, Rory MacDonald, and Benson Henderson have left the company for competitors like Bellator MMA.
19 Head Trauma Is All Too Common
Every UFC fighter has had a trip to the hospital or three. That’s a given. But sometimes the diagnosis is much worse, and very costly, than Dana White would have it seem. Concussions are a huge problem, and permanent head trauma is too.
The UFC doesn’t acknowledge the seriousness of brain injuries, despite many fighters being permanently disabled—it was only until Joe Rogan brought up the issue that they started to take it seriously.
18 Fighters And Their Steroid Use
In any physical sport like UFC, steroid use is going to happen. You have fighters training to their utmost potential, and some want an edge on the competition. What Dana White wouldn’t want you to know is the systemic problem of steroid abuse.
There has even been instances where the UFC was accused of allowing fights even after participants failed drug tests, such as between Vitor Belfort and Jon Jones. It’s rumored that the UFC knew Belfort failed a drug test, but buried the results to let the big-drawing match continue.
17 UFC Is Still Illegal In Several Countries
Because of the intense violence, blood, and common traumatic injuries, UFC is still banned and illegal in countries such as France and Germany. For a while, 36 states in the USA had banned “no-hold-barred” fighting, including biggies like New York, but that ban was lifted in 2016.
The state became the 50th to legalize mixed martial arts broadcasts. To some, UFC are like modern gladiatorial depictions, and seem unethical and “dark ages.”
16 Fighter Pay Is Unsatisfactory
Considering that the fighters are the ones who put themselves through all of the trauma of a fight, it’s appalling how mismatched the fighter pay is, compared to owners or Dana White himself. White is worth approximately $500 million, and UFC is a multibillion-dollar enterprise worth upwards of $7b.
A good number of fighters have revealed publicly that their pay is unfair, especially with manager fees, gym fees, travel expenses, nutritionist fees, and expenses for training camp.
15 Former Fighters’ Class-Action Lawsuit
The pay issue has reached such a breaking point that a number of former fighters formed a class-action lawsuit to sue the UFC. Many active fighters are anonymous on the suit, because the UFC controls their careers and futures.
The suit sued on the grounds that the UFC violated antitrust laws. Of course, the UFC will vigorously defend itself and its business practices.
14 Hiring Fighters Who Lack Martial Arts Skills
Another unsettling thing about UFC are the number of “freak show fights,” as they’ve come to be known. To be an MMA fighter, one must be skilled in wrestling, boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, judo, taekwondo, karate, and much more. There’s a consistent effort to build skills in multiple forms of fighting.
For instance, CM Punk, a former WWE wrestler, was brought in because he was a big draw, despite lacking skills. He lost his fight pretty badly, as expected.
13 Fighters Are Promoted As Gimmicks, Not By Ability
Another terrible fight that showed a disregard for actual skill-sets was when UFC champ Randy Couture fought famed boxer James Toney at UFC 118. It was an ugly night for boxing fans, as Toney was destroyed.
When he was put to the ground, he simply didn’t know how to counter or what to do. Another noteworthy fight: backyard brawler Kimbo Slice against Matt Mitrione. Kimbo lost. These were gimmick fights, sought to bring in a big crowd.
12 Fighting Outside The Cage Is Common
It should come as no surprise that MMA fighters are aggressive and testosterone-filled. Sometimes, all that aggressive is exposed outside of the cage. In 2014, Christy Mack suffered an attack at the hands of a former lover and MMA fighter, Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver, or War Machine.
“Real Sports” figures indicate that the rate of domestic abuse cases among MMA fighters is triple compared to professional football.
11 Fighters With Convictions Have Returned To The Ring
Even more disturbing than the rise of domestic abuse cases and outside-the-cage brawls is the fact that the UFC has allowed numerous fighters with convictions to return to the ring.
Nate Diaz, for instance, was just released from jail for domestic battery in 2018, and is already looking for UFC 241 to fight Jorge Masvidal.
10 Dana White’s Relationship With The Mafia
Dana has opened up Dana was even driven out of Boston, allegedly at the hands of infamous gangster Whitey Bulger, in 2011, for not making payments for his gym. In a way, Whitey Bulger helped shape the UFC into what it is today.
Also, the Japanese Yakuza mafia was responsible for the fall of PRIDE FC, which has made it difficult for Dana to gain access into the popular Japanese fight market.
9 Problems Expanding Into Foreign Markets
Dana White has opened up in the past about the problems facing the UFC as they try to expand into foreign markets. They’ve had trouble entering Mexico because of organized crime and the “Mexican Initiative.”
UFC has intentions of entering Mexico and the UK, but it hasn’t been easy because each country has their own way of doing business.
8 Inconsistent Judging
There are so many things a judge has to remember during a fight: the “10-Point Must System,” Octagon control, effective aggressiveness, clean strikes, effective grappling. It’s no wonder that many fights are botched by poor judging, especially when the UFC’s point system is often criticized.
Experts claim there’s no unified ref training or recruitment program, which is a big problem when dealing with people judging fights.
7 Success Is Based On Personality
The Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather debacle showed that exposure and ridiculous press conferences make success far more than skill. Now, both of those fighters are extremely skilled, but there are many UFC fighters who have the right personality but lack the skills, and they’ve been offered numerous title fights.
Alternatively, fighters like Chris Weidman has had to beg for a title shot, despite being a very skilled fighter. The more trash talk you can throw in press conferences, social media, and during fight interviews, the better.
6 Frequent Injury Leads To Millions In Lost Revenue
Almost every UFC fight seems to have at least two fighters on the card who postpone or decline the fight. Injuries are so common in the UFC that it’s interfered with matchmakers and has led to millions in lost revenue.
Withdrawing from a UFC fight is extremely common, and it angers Dana White like no other. Experts claim it’s easier for fighters to avoid fights by claiming injury.
5 Forcing Fighters To Accept Fights
In 2017, Dutch fighter Germaine de Randamie was stripped of her featherweight belt because she declined to fight Cris “Cyborg” Santos. Initially, Randamie had requested more time to recover from an injury, but her belt was stripped because of her “unwillingness” to fight Santos. UFC protocol is insisting that fighters accept fights from top contenders, irrespective of weight class, which is absurd!
The growing trend of declining fights continues to pose a challenge to the organization.
4 Dana White Frequently Steps Over The Line
There’s no one in the UFC that’s more of a hothead than its CEO and owner, Dana White. He’s foul-mouthed, often rude, and inconsiderate.
He’s great at selling fights, but he’s been accused of being one of the worst bosses on the planet, almost like a WWE storyline, and he often gives crowds the best action outside of the octagon.
3 He Often Attacks Fans And Fighters
Many of his exaggerated claims have come to bite him in the butt, such as calling Ronda Rousey the biggest star in the UFC (after formerly saying women shouldn’t be fighting), and Conor McGregor the “PPV King.”
He fired fighters for remarks and actions, such as when Daley sucker-punched Koscheck after the bell. He’s launched attacks on anyone who crosses paths with the UFC, whether it’s fighters under his employ or even fans.
2 UFC Is Based On A WWE Business Model
Most MMA fans hate the link between the UFC and WWE, but the fact is that the UFC uses a WWE business model, attributed to Vince McMahon. The personal feuds that sell the fight, the weekly TV shows, the pay-per-view format—all of it was learned from WWE.
Even though what goes on the ring is real, as opposed to WWE, White has admitted openly to looking up to McMahon and copying his business model for the UFC.
1 Training Is Extremely Expensive
Training camp is extremely expensive and time-consuming. Fighters have received head trauma, concussions, and been knocked out at training camp. But they keep going because they can’t afford to cancel a fight.
A typical training camp goes for eight weeks, for seven hours a day, and many fighters consider the real match to be more relaxed than the training sessions. Most gyms charge on the higher side for memberships, and if you want a private trainer, it’s even worse. And that’s not including the equipment you’ll need.
References: theclever.com, tvovermind.com, bleacherreport.com