Shake 'em off
- Dec 31, 2014
Seven years ago, doctors told former UFC lightweight Spencer Fisher he could no longer fight. That wasn’t the end of his time with his promoter. But when the company was sold, he was among those to be cut loose. Now, he’s just trying to get by.
One email can change the direction of your life.
For the Fisher family, it arrived on Jan. 13, 2017, the day the UFC’s then-chief legal officer informed Emily Fisher that the services of her husband, former UFC lightweight Spencer Fisher, would no longer be needed.
“I’m glad to hear that your family’s holidays were memorable,” it began.
“Regarding Spencer’s independent contractor agreement ending on April 30, 2017, unfortunately the new company is not going to renew the agreement. That decision is nothing personal regarding Spencer, the new company is simply trying to cut costs.
“I know this is not the news you wanted to hear, but please know that we appreciate Spencer’s time with the UFC and we wish him, you and your family all the best.”
Ending Fisher’s contract helped put UFC on track for a planned $6 million reduction in business expenses under new ownership. Only fighters UFC President Dana White liked, guys like UFC Hall of Famers like Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes, were known to get a deal like Spencer’s.
Stars like Liddell and Hughes hardly did more than press palms and pose for pictures. On paper, that was Fisher’s job. But he hadn’t done any appearances for awhile. And yet, the $5,000 checks he’d been guaranteed showed up every month. They kept him afloat, and after being evaluated by three medical providers – including two neurologists – as having symptoms consistent with a future diagnosis of CTE, he decided to keep quiet.
Emily, herself a former fighter, had tried to prepare Spencer for the day the money stopped coming. She told him not to depend on the UFC to take care of him forever. The UFC was a business, fighters were a product, and eventually, the well would run dry. Spencer, though, believed White would figure something out, find some way to keep him working, make him useful. As his symptoms worsened, he wrote long texts asking for help, asking what he could do to earn his money, trying to appeal to his boss’s heart.
After the company sold in 2016 for approximately $4 billion, White stopped responding.
This is one of those meandering long form articles that jumps future, present, past, present, etc. It's a little obnoxious because the style is so overdone, but the topic and detail is considerable.
So what do we do as we see more and more CTE? They are independent contractors. But surely an league annuity or insurance or something could find its way to protect the UFC and the fighters.
Right now we are still chewing up and spitting these guys out the meat grinder. And spencer's a fortunate one in that he was given some favoritism (bribe to stay quiet???) for being an OG face of the company.