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Old 02-19-2014, 04:14 AM
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VCURamFan VCURamFan is offline
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Default Does the UFC Need to Pay for Athlete Rehab Like the WWE?

From CagePotato.com (By Matt Saccaro):
Chris Leben posted a tweet earlier today that jolted an MMA world still asleep in post-UFN 36 lull:
I wish I would’ve drove truck last 10yrs, then at least is have insurance to see a counselor. Ufc left me broken with nithing
— Chris Leben (@cripplerufc) February 16, 2014
Any sentiment related to the UFC and how they take care of their fighters (whether it’s about pay, insurance, or what have you) is bound to be controversial. Leben’s tweet suggesting the UFC discards their fighters once they’ve outlived their usefulness and leaves them as empty, “broken” husks was no exception. A firestorm erupted on twitter and other Internet locales, with many fans insulting Leben and bashing the TUF Season 1 veteran. Their argument: Leben made more money than me, so •••• him. His drug issues are not my problem. Harsh words for a man who risked his mind and body to entertain so many.

A shame fans didn’t express these sentiments while Leben was in the UFC and clearly had issues. But then he was a BANGER, a WARRIOR. Now, since he doesn’t collect a UFC paycheck, fans think he’s a pathetic, burned out mooch who deserves nothing but agony. We’ve said it before, but MMA fans are terrible sometimes. Furthermore, Leben was distraught over the death of his dog, which prompted his above tweet about the UFC. It’s terrible to deride a person in such circumstances.

Ailing animal aside, Leben’s tweet brings a question to the fore: Should the UFC start a rehabilitation program for their fighters?

As the UFC roster balloons and the old guard of MMA ages, more and more Chris Lebens—athletes who fought hard but perhaps partied harder—will enter the confusing, empty-feeling life of an ex-fighter. What’ll those fighters do? They can’t all get ridiculous jobs from Zuffa, nor can they all become commentators. Some will find gigs as coaches and successful gym owners, but what about the rest who lose their way and fall to their drug habits—habits they acquired because of the MMA lifestyle?

Fortunately for Leben, the UFC and Dana White reached out to help him.

Zuffa might help distressed fighters they’re partial to (guys that WARRED), but ideally the UFC would mimic the WWE’s model of rehabilitation assistance, the goal of which is “to help any former talent that may have a substance-related dependency problem.” The WWE covers all costs and “maintains regular contact with talent who have entered a rehab program or reached out for WWE assistance.”

The professional wrestling industry has a history with drug use. The grueling, 300+ day schedules combined with the constant wear and tear of taking bumps night after night is too much for some. They turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain and pressure.

While competing in the UFC doesn’t require constant travel, fighting isn’t an easy occupation on the mind or body—not at the high levels, where the “Rock Star Life” can consume fighters, nor at the low levels where $8,000 to show doesn’t come close to covering your costs for the fight, and training often has to be juggled with a day job. Financial struggles are only half the problem. No fighter enters the cage injury-free. But they can only get paychecks from fighting. When injuries mount and bank accounts run dry, competing hurt is the only option. Fighters, such as Chris Leben and Karo Parisyan, turn to painkillers. Other athletes might turn to different kinds of drugs.

Perhaps it’s the UFC’s responsibility to offer some aid to competitors who succumbed to drugs to cope with the physical and mental pressures of fighting. For all of Dana White’s/Zuffa’s grandstanding, the UFC would be nowhere without the fighters. Where’s the harm in bankrolling rehab for fighters who gave the best years of their lives (and their long-term health) to the UFC?

Last edited by VCURamFan; 02-19-2014 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 02-19-2014, 06:42 AM
Bonnie Bonnie is offline
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What are your thoughts, Ben?
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Old 02-19-2014, 02:42 PM
rearnakedchoke rearnakedchoke is offline
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its tough imo .. football, boxing and pro wrestling have been around forever ... they have the hard data to say that yes, years of doing the above puts you at higher risk of issues after retirement .. sure, its easy to put two and two together and say mma is a high impact sport, combat sport, injuries are going to be the same .... but i doubt the ufc is going to jump up and say lets start paying this until they have some hard data ... which they will get after a few more years in business .. just my opinion
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:01 PM
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kevint13 kevint13 is offline
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FYI, Leben made that tweet and then rescinded what he had said. If I remember right, his dog had just died and he was pretty bummed and was lashing out at anyone and everyone. He later said that the UFC had actually done a lot for him.
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