Randy Couture. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
When UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture was negotiating his return to the organization earlier this month, one of his sticking points was that the UFC would begin to listen to the issues that the fighters on their current roster had, whatever they may be.
During it’s existence, the International Fight League was heavily praised for being the only MMA promotion in the country to offer their fighters health insurance packages. The UFC may not be ready to dive into such a plan just yet, but according to Couture, they are considering putting together something that could jump start the idea.
“One of the things that I was recommending that [the UFC] is considering is creating a medical board so that the 200-plus fighters that they have under contract can submit claims for medical things,” Couture explained. “Like if we get the flu, we need stitches, any of those things that aren’t covered.
“We don’t have health insurance. And [the UFC] is doing some of those things already, but why not make it a program? Make it in some way change public perception about who they are and what they do for the fighters. And actually make it a process for fighters to submit a claim.
“If we’re talking about buying some cold medicine, go buy some damn cold medicine. But if you actually have some medical expenses that would normally be covered by some kind of medical insurance that we don’t have, then maybe the UFC in their infinite wisdom could cover some of these things. And they’re considering some of those things seriously. They are at least willing to listen to some of the issues that we have as fighters.”
Fighters that have competed on “The Ultimate Fighter” and have gotten hurt have had their injuries taken care of by the UFC on the show, so it’s only practical for them to do the same for the other fighters they have under contract. It seems like they are doing that more and more these days.
MMA is still a long time away from getting out of the infant stages that it’s still in when it comes to media coverage, fighter salaries, and a host of other things. However the lack of health care for the fighters is the biggest concern out of all and it looks like the UFC is at least considering attacking that problem. In order for smaller promotions to consider the same, the UFC has to pull the trigger. It’s the only way a trickle-down effect will start.