UFC Contracts Banning Dangerous Activities? That's a Good Thing

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterOctober 8, 2012

August 11, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Donald Cerrone enters the ring before the start of the fight against Melvin Guillard (not pictured) during UFC 150 at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Chalk this one up under "good moves to make": The latest contracts issued by the UFC ban "dangerous activities" for all of its fighters.

The news was first revealed by lightweight Donald Cerrone during an interview with Tracy Lee, and has since been confirmed by UFC president Dana White:

They say you can't snowboard, wakeboard, bungee jump, all kinds of ridiculous things. Horseback riding, yeah, which, I own horses and I will not not ride them. So I guess I just have to sit down with Dana and figure this out. But that's who I am, you know. I'm just wild and crazy and I need these things. I can't get painted into a corner is what I'm saying. So I gotta figure it out.

I understand why Cerrone would have such a tough time abiding by rules preventing him from doing the things he loves. Cerrone loves extreme sports; in May, he even discussed the possibility of doing a few bull-riding events. That idea was quickly shot down by the UFC, of course, and rightly so.

Here's the thing: I understand that fighters are cut from a different cloth. The kind of mentality that allows you to walk into a cage for a professional fight is the same kind of mentality that lends itself to dangerous activities like motorcycle riding and wakeboarding. 

But, as we've seen in recent months—most notably with featherweight champion Jose Aldo forced to pull out of his fight with Frankie Edgar due to injuries suffered while riding a motorcycle—those dangerous activities can harm your fighting career. And when you harm your fighting career, you're hurting the UFC's bottom line. 

Sure, these fighters are independent contractors, and it's hard to tell an independent contractor what he can and cannot do.

But the reality is this: The UFC is investing a lot of effort, time and money into building a platform where these guys become stars and where they make tons of money. If they don't want you risking your health and putting the fights they've booked in jeopardy, then they should have the right to keep you from participating in those activities.

They're providing health insurance as a way to ensure that the fighters they have under contract are able to perform their duties to the best of their abilities; keeping them away from motorcycles and bulls and what-have-you doesn't seem like an outrageous demand to me.

Perhaps there's a middle ground here, though? Maybe the new clauses in UFC contracts should stipulate that you can participate in any kind of activities you wish. But if you're injured while participating in something deemed dangerous by the company—and if you already have a fight booked—you have to pay some sort of financial penalty?

That would be incentive enough for most people to stop putting their health on the line. It might not stop guys like Cerrone from doing the things they love, but it might stop others from jumping on a motorcycle.

Of course, they're setting a bad precedent when they hand out new Harley Davidson bikes to guys on the roster. That's something that needs to change, too, especially if they want to promote the safety and well-being of the guys they're trying to market to the public.

Harley Davidson is a big sponsor for the UFC, and I understand that handing out those motorcycles is part of the deal, but you can't really do that and then expect the guys to park them in the garage and never ride them.

As we've seen with Cerrone, there are plenty of fighters who won't like these new rules and clauses. But they're not outrageous demands. This business is about building the best product you can, which means keeping your fighters safe, ready and available for use.

Besides, the UFC is already up to its eyeballs in fighter injuries. Taking away potential injuries caused by dangerous activities is a good thing, and I'm surprised they didn't do it sooner.