Kevin Randleman: 'The UFC Isn't the Sport, Fighters Are'

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No longer seeking UFC employment, Kevin Randleman has decided to speak openly about the largest MMA promotion in the world.

In an uncensored two-part interview with Tony Reid of Rattle the Cage MMA, the former UFC heavyweight champ talked in depth about UFC fighter pay and the impure nature of the sport.

The early days of the UFC was pure. It wasn't a bunch of commercial [expletive]. It wasn't a bunch of [expletive] bureaucrats trying to change everything, and you didn't have owners that thought their [expletive] didn't stink.

[In the past], there were no weight classes. It was just two guys in there. Guys could be 40-pounds heavier or bigger. Now, everyone is crying about a difference in five pounds.

Randleman's argument isn't a plea for the sport to return to its gladiator days. He realizes that rules and regulations have been placed to help ensure fighter safety.

For him, there is just an unshakeable form of nostalgia surrounding the early days in the UFC, which represented MMA in its purest form.

"Nothing is ever going to be pure again like that. Granted, now the changes in rules is for the safety, but back in the day, it was as raw as it gets," Randleman said.

The nostalgia may be gone, but MMA has become the fastest growing sport in the world.

Dana White and the Fertitta brothers turned a dying promotion into a launching pad of a brand-new mainstream sport. Like the NFL and football, the UFC has become synonymous with MMA.

Rather than its actual name, casual fans typically refer to the sport as the UFC.

Randleman isn't comfortable with the UFC being the sole dominant force in MMA. As the only show in town, there is no competition to sway how they do business.

If fighters aren't happy, they could be shown the door, but where would they go?

I've always given accolades to [the UFC] for everything they've done for the sport and keeping it around, but the bottom line is, they're not the [expletive] sport. Every guy that fights, we're the sport, and without us, there ain't, there won't, there is no fights.

Until we get together and unionize ourselves, there's not going to be a bigger payday...It's going to take another company with a guy with some big money that can take fighters away with big money and big promises, and you know what, it's coming.

When it comes to the UFC, fighter pay typically garners a lot of attention from pundits and fans. Perhaps the brunt of the interest simply comes from not knowing.

People have made claims about fighters being underpaid, but there really isn't any substantial proof to uphold these allegations. Fans are only given a glimpse at the base pay or "show me" money fighters make for participating in UFC events.

Still, Randleman feels like there isn't enough of the wealth being spread around. He believes every fighter competing on a UFC card deserves a cut of the revenue.

We as fighters, we're entitled to half of the pot. Without the fighters, the UFC would fold. Without the fighters, Bellator would fold. Without fighters willing to bang every day, it would fold.

There should be insurance for every fighter that's on the company's [expletive] payroll. You should have insurance just like any other company should have. So if you're training and you're under contract with the UFC, you should have health insurance and life insurance.

...[MMA] is not a rich man's sport. It's just rich men that own the sport. It's a blue collar man's sport, and blue collar men should have more say in what goes on...You ain't Michael Vick, and we ain't [expletive] dogs.

Despite his gripes with fighter pay, Randleman is thankful for the UFC and everyone else who had a hand in helping the sport grow into what it is today.

As with any sport, there will always be growing pains. MMA is still a relatively new sport, and the ceiling has yet to be realized.

Randleman is happy to have received an opportunity to be a part of it.

MMA is the best, the largest growing sport in the world right now. Thanks to guys like Dana White, the Fertitta brothers, Scott Coker, Bryan from Pure MMA, Titan, Bellator...Thank you guys for helping guys like me know that we have a future and that we can be something, even if it's just to my son, and my son says, 'Wow dad, that was you. I want to be like you.' I'm thanking you for that.

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