Maybe it’s the nickname. Maybe it’s the stuff behind the scenes. Whatever the case may be, “Ragin’” Al Iaquinta had plenty to say after being snubbed for a performance bonus following his brutal first-round knockout of Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 108 on April 22.
Iaquinta had been away from the sport for over two years, but he showed no signs of slowing down even if he’s not fully committed to the sport for the long haul. Speaking on The MMA Hour this week, Iaquinta may have sounded angry, but he also sounded smart as he made plenty of valid points.
Whether it be through the Reebok deal, a fighters’ union, a collective-bargaining agreement or something else entirely, the UFC and its fighters need to get a situation in place that allows for each fighter to make the most money possible. That’s not to say the newcomers should be making as much money as the superstars, but there needs to be fair pay for everyone.
This is a violent sport. Fighters are paid to punch, kick, wrestle and, in short, put their bodies through physical hell to entertain a crowd. They take this punishment in order to make money for themselves and their families. When a fighter like Iaquinta speaks up about wanting to leave the arena before the fight due to another fighter getting knocked out, that’s the reality the fans don’t see behind closed doors.
When it comes to bonuses, that’s the UFC’s decision to make, but there is plenty of money to go around to make sure that a performance like Iaquinta’s is rewarded properly. Maybe telling the boss to go fuck himself, as Iaquinta did, isn’t the smartest move. However, what if the lightweight fighter had remained silent? In the average everyday job, most employees are OK with listening to what the boss says without voicing any complaints, as long as the boss hasn’t crossed the line. Well, for Iaquinta, the UFC has crossed the line and he wants his money.
The bonus of $50,000 isn’t your normal paycheck bonus. This amount of money can change a family or a fighter for the better. With as much praise as UFC President Dana White is given for making the UFC what it has become — a $4.2 billion dollar company that has risen in the fastest growing sport in the world — there is also reason for criticism.
Other fighters have also been public in their opinions of Iaquinta. Some have been very critical about him as a fighter and his future in the UFC. For what it’s worth, there might not be a fighter critical of Iaquinta if they were all making more money because of his rant. Someone needed to speak out. Iaquinta did.
The message may not have been delivered in the most appropriate way, but it’s the UFC and not much about the fight game is rated E for everyone. This is more than sport. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a dedication. And maybe, just maybe, “Ragin’” Al Iaquinta is coming from a smarter place than others want to give him credit for.
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