There are tons of reports in the news about this fighter and that fighter retiring. Whether using it for contractual negotiations, like Conor McGregor, or actual retirements, one thing is blatantly clear. MMA does not support fighters in retirement.
There is no pension for fighters in MMA. It doesn’t matter the organization. There is literally nothing. In the UFC, during a fighter’s period of fighting for them, they have health insurance. At least that was the news report in 2011. But with so many fighters let go from the organization, some even big winners, that health insurance stops as soon as they part ways with the company no matter the reason.
So, with no pension and no health insurance, that leaves fighters in a precarious position. Especially giving the fact that fighters always end up with lingering chronic medical conditions. Some stemming from orthopedic problems. Undoubtedly, TBI. And some ophthalmologic- after effects of detached retinas and other issues.
Being a fighter undoubtedly leaves you with tons of pre-existing conditions. And while it is currently illegal for a health insurance company to deny on basis of pre-existing conditions, depending on what lawmakers decide to do, will depend on whether a fighter can even get health insurance to cover their various medical issues.
Add out of pocket medical costs to someone who has no pension, things get even shakier. Many fighters use money they have saved up to open a gym. Others still work in gyms. But usually, that means that they have to have other jobs on top of that. It is not an easy retirement.
So, what is there to do? For one, organizations need to include protections for fighters in their business plan. Especially for fighters who spend their entire career with one organization. Two, there needs to be a financial advisor for each fighter so that they can properly invest their money and create as much of a safety net as possible.
But, so far, organizations have been reluctant to do any of these things. Be it greed or difficulty in implementation, take your pick. Maybe the future will be better.
But for right now, the Conor McGregors and Chuck Liddells are not the norm or the rule.