Inside the famed Octagon, UFC athletes fight
like lions raised on Chuck Norris movies, but outside the cage they’re
just big teddy bears with hearts of gold. UFC fighters are increasingly using their public platforms to raise awareness of and money for the causes closest to them.
Its a trend that starts at the top - the UFC itself regularly raises money for good causes, most notably the Fight for the Troops events that benefit injured veteras via the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Here, some of the causes favored by our fighters.
In 1994, “The West Memphis 3” were a group of teenagers in Arkansas who dyed their hair, wore black clothing, listened to heavy metal and read Stephen King novels. And after a shocking murder of some children, the teens were convicted despite a seeming lack of evidence.
The story has rallied support from celebs raging from Eddie Vedder to Johnny Depp. Now the UK’s premier UFC Welterweight has recently been holding benefit events - including his UFN 24 afterparty - to raise money in support of Free the West Memphis 3.
The former PRIDE Lightweight Champion and one of Japan’s biggest MMA stars has started the Fight Back Fund, which is a relief effort for Japan from the earthquake and tsunami. The website will donate entire sales amount of all purchases to the Japanese Red Cross Society.
The UFC 128 Fight of the Night winner’s charity of choice is one close to his family and place of birth. Combat Athletes for Nova Friburgo is a nonprofit formed to raise money and support the relief effort in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, where mudslides have killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people. Many in the city, located in the mountainous region northeast of Rio de Janeiro, have lost family members, homes, belongings, and jobs in the largest disaster in Brazil’s history.
He's a Marine Captain, a Silver Star winner, an American hero, an author and a rising name in the UFC’s Middleweight division. And Stann’s time outside of the cage is devoted to the charity he runs Hire Heroes USA. The nonprofit’s mission is to help military vets get back in the job game.
James Te Huna
At UFC 127, the 29 year old New Zealand native generously donated all of his fight earnings to the victims of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, a move which inspired the UFC to match his donation. Te Huna currently lives in Sydney, Australia, but was born in Darfield, New Zealand, which is a neighboring town of Christchurch.
Besides winning Knockout of the Night at UFC 128, Schaub is a two-time winner of the “Tequila Cazadores Spirit Award”. The award is for UFC fighters who show integrity in and out of the cage and provides a donation to the charity of the fighter’s choosing. Schaub’s donations have gone to Doctors without Borders and the Colorado Humane Society & SPCA.
Do you want to selflessly donate to charity and selfishly get something out of it? Good news, Forrest Griffin solved this troublesome paradigm by donating all proceeds from his second laugh-a-minute book "Be Ready When The Sh*t Goes Down: A Survival Guide to the Apocalypse." The money is going to several charities including Fisher House (offers temporary homes to the families of hospitalized soldiers), Three Square (a Las Vegas food bank), Forrest’s local church and trust fund for the 5-year old son of a deceased friend.
In 2008, Rich Franklin was named an ambassador for Disabled American Veterans a nonprofit with 1.2 million members. Franklin also supports the cause through visits to VAs and military hospitals, public service announcements and frequent donations.
Before he was a member of the UFC Hall of Fame, “The Natural” was a member of the United States Armed Forces. To give back, Couture started his own nonprofit, Xtreme Couture GI Foundation, which raises money for soldiers wounded in action and their families.