1.04.2009

Dana White the Humanitarian: The Exception to the Rule


I was posting an article on FightTicker tonite and decided I'd go ahead and post it here as well. Generally, I don't post all of my FightTicker pieces here because many of them are links to other news stories that can obviously be found on FightTicker. Also, as I'm writing certain posts on FightTicker, I often find a post on another MMA site I think should get more attention, I cut-and-paste a few paragraphs from that post, link to the original and then throw in a few sentences of commentary.

However, tonite was a little bit different. As I started writing my "few sentences of commentary" on the article I was linking to, I realized I had a little bit more to say than just a few sentences, mainly because the issue I was writing about is one I feel is at the center of problems that fighters have with promotions - coverage of fighters' medical expenses.

Check after the jump for the full post of what I ended up writing.


You can also find the post on FightTicker here.

From Sherdog:

White has a softer side, too, as he showed in wake of the gruesome injury suffered by lightweight prospect Corey Hill at UFC Fight Night 17 in December. Hill snapped his lower leg when he kicked opponent Dale Hartt early in the second round and had to be stretchered out of the cage. He later underwent surgery and was hospitalized for a number of days. UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta and White called Hill together at the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C., and wished him a speedy recovery. Their goodwill did not end there.

In addition to paying for Hill’s medical expenses, the UFC left one of its employees behind to stay with him at the hospital for the first six days of his stay. When Hill was released from the hospital a week and a half later, the UFC paid for Hill and his family to remain at a hotel, so he could visit with doctors again before leaving for home.

In short, White’s about as complex and interesting a figure as we have anywhere in professional sports. Where he falls on the good-versus-evil spectrum depends on the day.


I think Dana should get props for how he and the UFC have handled the situation, but as the title of my post implies, I feel their handling of this is an exception to the general rule on how fighters' medical issues are handled, and that is what is sad.

People shouldn't be championing Dana simply because he and the UFC stepped up and did the right thing - I feel Dana's way handling of this situation is something people should expect. I don't feel that the UFC should have to address every medical issue a fighter may face, and they shouldn't be responsible for dealing with every problem a fighter has; not even close. But I think that the generally accepted practice should be the handling of such medical expenses.

The fighters are Dana's employees - and I think everyone would agree that the happier the employee is, the more productive they are. Granted, Hill can't be very productive as a fighter in his current condition, but I don't think we'll be hearing him say anything negative about the UFC any time soon, and the UFC will get major P.R. points for handling this the way they did.

One might wonder if the UFC offered similar treatment to Razak Al-Hassan after Steve Cantwell injured Al-Hassan's arm at the UFC Fight For the Troops. Some might think that Al-Hassan does not deserve treatment similar to Hill's because Al-Hassan did not tap when many people thought he should have. However, I would argue that Al-Hassan does deserve the same treatment as Hill, because just like Hill, he got injured doing the work he was hired to do.

I do want to acknowledge that I'm not directly privy to how the UFC handles paying for fighters' medical expenses and things like that - however, given all of the fighters who have complained about treatment of such issues, I can only assume there is room for improvement.

I think if Dana and the UFC were to handle all injuries (non-minor ones) the way they did Hill's, they would find much more appreciative fighters, coaches, fighters' family members, agents....the list goes on.

I'm a realist, so I understand that to do this, the UFC would end up paying out a lot more money, they would have to deal with a lot more complaints, and inevitably, someone's request would get denied because the injury may not have been serious enough, and that would set off a whole new line of "The UFC doesn't take care of their fighters" arguments. However, in spite of that, I think adopting new policies to address medical issues would be in everyone's best interests.

I think it would also show some states that don't currently regulate MMA that the UFC does care about the fighters beyond the results they can produce in the cage. Clearly, the UFC isn't the only promotion out there, but if non-MMA states wanted, they could easily make laws that stated the promotion had to be responsible for medical expenses of a certain kind or amount. I do understand that an argument could be made here that this sort of legislation would discriminate against some of the smaller promotions, but states have a wide berth when making laws regarding health and safety issues.

So will the UFC start covering more medical expenses? Maybe, maybe not. Is is it in everyone's best interests for them to do it? Definitely. Is it possible for this to actually happen? Sure. I don't think it would happen in the short-term, because a lot of new company policies would have to be enacted, but I think if Dana hired a new committee, to examine and reform the company's policies on paying out for injuries, insurance and issues like that, something would actually get done. Not to mention, it would be smart for Dana to take this step, because it would mean one less reason for fighters to unionize because one major issue would be off the table, and Dana definitely doesn't want a union.

So come on, Dana, throw some more money out there and do the right thing like you did with Corey Hill. Set an example for the smaller promotions, and show them that you got to where you are not because you're a balls-to-the-wall businessman who can gracefully weave the f-word into any sentence in any social setting, but because you also care about the people putting it on the line every time they step in the cage.

-PreView

Assist: Bloody Elbow.

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