As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow, so does the platform its athletes acquire.
With this platform, fighters can take to social media to boost their following, promote fights and build a brand for themselves, but they can also use it to make positive impacts on their local communities through charitable organizations and volunteer work.
Through the years, dozens of UFC fighters have used their platform to create or contribute to these organizations in their local community to help those in need. Here are some current UFC athletes who recently made a difference beyond the Octagon:
It’s the season of giving and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside @thehublafayette another year as we fulfilled their Christmas Wish List! Helping restore lives each day, you guys are amazing & we appreciate all that you do for our community! Thank you 🙏🏽♥️ pic.twitter.com/ghZcxIfI85— The Good Fight Foundation (@TheGoodFightFDN) November 30, 2022
The Good Fight Foundation
Back in 2018, UFC lightweight Dustin Poirier and his wife Jolie established The Good Fight Foundation, a foundation that raises money for communities in Poirier’s home state of Louisiana. Often joining forces with another organization for every one of his fights, Poirier auctions off event-worn memorabilia after his fight to raise money for The Good Fight foundation and any accompanying organization.
Poirier is coming off a submission victory against Michael Chandler on the main card of UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira at Madison Square Garden in New York City. For this fight, Poirier donated money generated from his fight kit auction to build 500 complete Thanksgiving meals for families in his hometown, as well as teaming up with The Hub, a non-profit organization in Lafayette, Louisiana that serves those in poverty and homelessness, to give gifts to children in need.
“Everything that I have on here will be auctioned off and the money is going to go towards 500 meals for families in Lafayette, Louisiana for Thanksgiving,” Poirier said. “We’re also going to buy presents for every child at a women and children’s center in Lafayette, Louisiana called The Hub. Every kid should wake up and have presents to open on Christmas morning.”
For more information about Dustin Poirier and The Good Fight Foundation, visit https://www.thegoodfightgroup.com/impact
OnSide Youth Zone
Earlier this year, UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards teamed up with OnSide, one of the leading youth charities in the U.K., to establish a youth mentoring program at three OnSide Youth Zone locations. Along with local police officers, Edwards helps train kids in mixed martial arts as part of an initiative to break down the barriers between kids and the police.
“We just want to get these kids out of the streets, divert them away from crime, and just let them know they can talk to us, they can confide in us, and they can come have fun,” PC Dean Littlewood from South Area Command Unit in the Metropolitan Police Service said.
Kids aged 12-16 are eligible to join the program which includes weekly, small-group classes over a 6 to 8-week period. The classes will offer kids with the opportunity to learn various martial arts disciplines, including boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, judo and jiu-jitsu.
“At the end of the day, you’re fighting, but it’s all love,” Edwards said. “We’re here to provide for our family and just give back.”
For more information on UFC’s and Leon Edwards’ partnership with OnSide, visit https://www.ufc.com/news/ufc-and-onside-launch-youth-mentoring-program-in-united-kingdom
After defeating Edson Barboza at UFC 272: Covington vs Masvidal, UFC featherweight Bryce Mitchell vowed to donate half of his fight purse, $45,000, to children’s medical costs in his home state of Arkansas. UFC president Dana White matched Mitchell’s contributions, raising their collective total to $90,000.
Through ARcare, Arkansas’ largest primary care network, Mitchell has helped provide financial relief to kids with medical needs, food insecurity and families effected by substance abuse issues.
“I really think the biggest thing I’m going to do overall is change the narrative of what is expected of an athlete,” Mitchell said. “Because I have the freedom to pursue a life that to me is worth living, because of everyone in the community who has helped me over the years, I am inspired to give back to that community.”
For more information on Bryce Mitchell’s contribution with ARcare, visit https://www.ufc.com/video/bryce-mitchell-gives-back-for-a-life-worth-living-AR-care-ufc-foundation
Molly McCann Is Making A Difference With Weapons Down Gloves Up
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Molly McCann Is Making A Difference With Weapons Down Gloves Up
Weapons Down Gloves Up
UFC flyweight Molly McCann teamed up with Weapons Down Gloves Up, an organization working to change the future of Liverpool both by reducing violent crimes and creating a path for its youth to follow: getting kids off the streets and into a structured, professional setting.
An eight-week program, Weapons Down Gloves Up teaches people ages 16-24 martial arts and self defense to reduce risk factors that lead to weapons violence, then prepares its participants with interview preparation and the necessary tools to succeed in full-time employment.
“[With a] decrease of funding in [Liverpool], that means there’s a lot less youth club sports centers, recreational centers and opportunities for children, which probably leads to them getting up to no good,” McCann explained. “Which obviously puts more pressure on parents. And some parents don't have the resources to put the children into things.
“I was saved by sports as a kid. I think it's well documented in my history and what I've been through and what my mum always tried to do. If my mum couldn't afford it, we were lucky enough that people would give my mum money or give me money to go and do (organized sports) because we just had a good group of people around us. Look at how I've turned out because I was given structure, discipline and an opportunity to be great at something.”
For more information on Molly McCann’s efforts with Weapons Down Gloves up, visit https://www.ufc.com/news/weapons-down-gloves-providing-new-path-liverpools-youth-molly-mccann
After winning his title at UFC 275: Teixeira vs Prochazka in June, former light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka launched the BJP Foundation, a foundation focused on improving living conditions for seriously ill children and adolescents in the Czech Republic.
In addition, the BJP Foundation and Prochazka works to provide young athletes with comprehensive care in sport, in the form of strength and conditioning, athletic and performance psychology and the professionalization of MMA in the Czech Republic.
“It’s not just to help somebody — it’s about helping someone, of course — but not just someone in a hospital, or children, but also to help teach MMA fighters how to be better in their work. Young MMA talents and all these things around MMA like conditioning, psychology, healthcare, and all these things.
“Everybody has their own fight. I’m fighting in a cage, somebody is fighting with another obstacle. I think it’s up to us to help those around us.”
For more information on Prochazka and the BJP Foundation, visit https://www.bjp-foundation.com/.