The UFC is known for fighting. But for some fighters, their biggest battles are outside the ring. Different fighters take different approaches with their voice and philanthropic efforts. Some focus on supporting veterans, others focus on food security in America, and some have raised funds and voiced their concerns on natural disasters and climate change.
While some of the fighters below may or may not be favorites on UFC betting sites, they are our favorites for helping lead the sport to make more of a concentrated effort to increase awareness of climate change and help support regions affected.
Arguably no athlete in the sport has done more good for communities around the world than Dustin Poirier and his charitable foundation The Good Fight. Poirier hails from Lafayette, Louisiana – a region hit hard by hurricanes in 2020. Poirier’s foundation has donated money to help the area recover from Hurricane Laura while he showed up and helped with the cleaning effort.
While a valiant effort in his home community, his most significant environmental efforts came across the Atlantic. Through his The Good Fight Foundation, Poirier raised money to build a solar-powered water well to provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of water for an orphanage in Uganda.
Poirier will fight Conor McGregor at UFC 257 – with each fighter pledging $500,000 to Poirier’s foundation. Plans for the money are not yet announced, but hopefully, the former UFC Lightweight Champion can allocate funds to help fight climate change – which will help protect communities in Layette and all over his home state of Louisiana – although early news suggests he will use the money to fund and provide tuition to a boxing/MMA academy in Lafayette.
Edson Barboza hails from the Nova Friburgo municipality in Rio de Janeiro. The region has been hit by the effects of climate change, with heavy rains and erosion leading to deadly mudslides and flooding. Barboza has pledged money and resources to help the region and aid the displacement of individuals and families.
The disaster, which struck Brazil in 2011, is considered as much a human-made natural disaster as it is due to climate change – highlighting the need to support the most at-risk communities around the world.
While Max Holloway is not the largest philanthropic fighter in the UFC, he is arguably the sport’s most prominent voice on climate change. Holloway has called out some of the biggest fighters in the UFC – such as Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov – to use their energy and social media platform (the two combine for nearly ten million followers on Twitter) to address climate change.
Although Holloway’s efforts did not spark the two star fighters to do much to address climate change, it at least brought the issue to light and could motivate other fighters to take to social media in the fight against climate change.
What the UFC Needs to Do Next to Further Help the Environment and Address Climate Change
The UFC features a diverse group of fighters from every continent (excluding Antarctica). Obviously, different regions feel the effects of climate change differently – but the whole world is at risk if actions are not stepped up.
The best course of action for the UFC is for fighters to focus more efforts on raising awareness and showing the environmental and health impacts of climate change in their home countries.
The UFC itself could also look to work with more sponsors who openly look to lower their carbon footprints and protect the environment. It is difficult to pinpoint a current UFC sponsor making a substantial effort to fight against climate change. The company is moving to a new apparel sponsor – Venum – in 2021. The company states it uses some eco-friendly products but also still uses leather to produce some of their boxing and MMA gloves.
Pressure from the UFC to deal with more eco-friendly sponsors or for sponsors to demand the UFC make more effort to fight climate change seems unlikely for as long as arenas are empty and profits are lower. For now, it seems it is up to individual fighters to champion for the sport, and hopefully, more fighters get on board in 2021.