To begin this post, we’d like to first congratulate the UFC on what the company has said is its most profitable year ever. Wow, what a great run, huh? Both Endeavor and the UFC have said they are smashing their financial goals, breaking all sorts of records, and the UFC is reportedly on pace to break $1 billion a year in annual revenue soon. Good job, you guys.
Now we’re just gonna take a great big sip of coffee before we pull out our phones and look at what’s in the news in the MMA world today. Oh. Would you look at that. It’s a little note from Ariel Helwani saying that, beginning with Saturday’s UFC Fight Night event, the UFC will now be making fighters pay for their own damn COVID tests.
One doesn’t wish to engage in hyperbole, but this? This shit right here? It might actually be the biggest Are You Fucking Kidding Me of all time. Because if this is true (more on that in a second), it would mean that the company notorious for keeping all the money while also nickel-and-diming its already cash-strapped athletes has found yet another way to nickel-and-dime those same cash-strapped athletes and it is by making them pay for the COVID tests that the company itself requires.
One more time, just so we all get it. Here we are, still in a pandemic that has killed over 5 million people worldwide, and the UFC is saying that the free ride on COVID tests is over for fighters. Even though UFC President Dana White could personally write a check to cover everyone’s COVID tests just out of his own blackjack winnings, he has decided instead to transfer that cost over to the people who are pretty much the poorest pro athletes you’ll regularly see on ESPN.
Oh, and Merry Christmas, everybody. Almost forgot to mention that while doing some straight-up Ebenezer Scrooge bullshit.
Seriously. We are asking sincerely now. Are you fucking kidding us? Is this actually just a tasteless joke? Because it feels like it must be. There’s no way this company can go from patting itself on the back for its performance during the pandemic to then making its fighters pay for their own UFC-mandated COVID tests. That seems too greedy, too petty, too heartless even for the UFC. It can’t be true … can it?
And that’s the other thing. This gets reported as some minor tidbit from Helwani’s Substack – item no. 14 of 15, following a note about an Eagle FC press conference – and as of this writing we’ve heard nothing directly from the UFC about it. White will undoubtedly get asked about it at some press conference sooner or later, and the promoter playbook really only gives him two options for a response: 1) Act like of course the insanely profitable fight promotion couldn’t be expected to pay for everybody’s tests indefinitely, or 2) Call Helwani a liar, reverse course on this, and claim it was never true to begin with.
My gut says it’ll be door number one. If the UFC is implementing this policy this weekend, it means fighters and corners have already been informed of the move and will have already paid for their tests, making it tough to deny. So White will tell John Morgan or whoever that, hey, it’s a minor expense for fighters and coaches, but a big expense collectively for the poor, poor UFC. What, we thought they were going to bear the financial costs for their own COVID safety program FOREVER?!? I mean, c’mon, they’re running a business here! You goofs just don’t know what that’s like.
In other words, some real Montgomery Burns bullshit.
And you know what? Pretty soon we’ll move on. Fighters and coaches will pony up for their tests because they have no choice. Their managers will tell them how lucky they are for the chance to continue getting kicked in the dick by the UFC in all these petty little ways. After a while no one will even mention it anymore, because we’re all so used to the UFC being such innovators in the field of finding new ways to screw its own fighters.
Just, you know, every once in a while don’t you wish you could see the look on an NFL player’s face when you explain how things work in the UFC? The shock, the confusion, the total bewilderment that these tough-ass motherfuckers who fight in a cage on ESPN every weekend would allow themselves to be jerked around like that.
It would be sad to see, but also maybe worth it. Plus a good reminder to go home and say a little prayer of thanks for players’ associations and collective bargaining agreements.
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