The Ultimate Fighter
UFC fighters with Phoenix ties gave back to the community this week with a visit to Ryan House, which provides hospice and pallative care for children and their families navigating life-limiting or end-of-life journeys.
"This is a place of happiness, remember that," Ryan House staff members reminded UFC fighters and Phoenix-area residents Henry Cejudo, CB Dollaway, Johnny Case and Lauren Murphy as they invited them to begin their visit during UFC Fight Night Rodriguez vs. Penn fight week.
For several hours, the UFC group served food to children and families, as well as staff and volunteers, before moving on to different activity rooms to share more time with them.
Dollaway planted himself in front of game console to play video games. Case worked with others on art projects to design his own UFC belt. Cejudo spoke with relatives of the children, offering advice and answering questions about mental strength. Murphy bounced from room to room, always with a big smile on her face.
"The energy of these children is fantastic. This is a great experience,” Case said.
It is hard to tell who benefited more from the visit – the children or the fighters. The interaction was natural, and filled with gratitude, on both sides.
"The work being done here is very important,” Cejudo said. “I’m very grateful to have this opportunity and to share with them these moments. It’s inspiring and motivating to see how they face life. They are true warriors.”
The UFC was not alone during this visit. Members of the Phoenix Suns, including former players Tom Chambers and Steven Hunter, as well as members of the Suns dance team also visited Ryan House to spend time with the children, families and volunteers.
The UFC and the Suns share a mission to serve the community, and the two organizations also share a common theme this week: their ties to Mexico and the Mexican community.
The UFC’s Mexican star, Yair Rodriguez, is the headliner for UFC Fight Night Rodriguez vs. Penn, while the Suns are playing two “home” games at Arena Ciudad de Mexico, the venue that’s become the unofficial home of UFC in Mexico City.
For more information about Ryan House, visit its website at https://www.ryanhouse.org/
Juan Cardenas is a multimedia journalist for UFC.com and UFCEspanol.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Desautomatas