An Exclusive Interview with Tyron “Rush” Rightford

Tyron Rightford

Taken from Tyron’s Facebook Page
Tyrone “Rush” RightFord before his EFC 19 bout with Dino Bagattin

 

 

On Friday 4th April, fan favourite Tyron “Rush” Rightford announced his resignation from EFC Africa. He made this announcement via a status on Facebook, stating that he and the promotion were not able to come to an agreement on his pay. Seeing as there has been much hype surrounding what professional MMA athletes get paid to fight, I decided to contact him to find out the full story from his perspective.

MG: To start off lets get a little background, how did you get into fighting?
I started doing karate from the young age of 7 years old , then went on to winning many south African titles and 3 world titles, I then decided to start MMA as it was a new exciting challenge and test for me to prove how effective karate would be in the hex.

MG: You recently moved to Cape Town, why the change of address?
My wife and I were looking for a better quality of life for our children is the main reasons for the move and we both really love Cape Town.


MG: How has the move been? Adjusting to Cape Town’s culture?
The adjustment has been a bit hard as we have left our friends and family back in JHB and are still getting used to how things operate here, although I’m also lucky that part of my family are also here. I’m fortunate that the guys at the gym have taken me in and we have become friends in the short period of time. My kids are loving their new school and have adapted well which is great!

You joined up with Ricco Hattingh’s gym. Why there and how has training been?
The reasons for joining Ricco was that I believe he is the best BJJ teacher in Cape Town and arguably the best in SA and I needed to fix a lot of holes in my ground game. They also have the top kickboxing instructor there Gregor who has a lot of knowledge that I’ve taken and added to my already strong stand up game and its great to train with a group of talented fighters!

 

On Friday 4th April, you announced your resignation from EFC Africa. Can you explain to us the circumstances leading up to this decision?
There are a few reasons I’ve decided to resign from the EFC:-
1) I felt that as a professional athlete I was offended at the purse offered (30k) and a percent of ticket sales would be given to me to fight the Frenchman but if a stadium is empty like it has been since myself and Dino last filled the stadium how much would I get 2k max from it? In prior discussions with the match maker, Graeme, the offer was alot higher than 30k for a win it was 50k which I was happy with because that fell into what I feel my worth was to the EFC, however I was not happy with the loss purse of 10k offered at the time and my new coaches said I must rather fight in June so I declined the fight and said that I would fight in June!

2) The next reason is that the reffing has not been on the right standard for the past 8 – 10 events. Fighters have been getting injured or lost unfairly to poor decisions made by the refs and let’s not leave out the judges poor decisions costing fighters money and losses on their records. In my opinion, the reason for this, EFC have not sent these officials for proper training even though they know its been a huge issue and cause for concern but still nothing has been done to fix the problem! Why NOT??? At the end of the day, after 28 events and mirroring UFC’s organization, there should not be any more excuse for trial and error!

3) Promises were made to me and I’m sure to a number of fighters that we must be patient and work with them in growing MMA in SA and accept that they couldn’t pay us what we were worth because they were waiting for the Supersport TV deal to happen, but as soon as it was in effect things would change and we would be making a lot more than what they could offer at the time, so I agreed on that and said that I would help build MMA in SA!!! Since then, they have been with Supersport for a year now and instead of the purses going up like promised they have in fact dropped by big margins.. WTF is going on? This is what all the fighters are wondering about, yet they don’t have the courage to voice their opinions and are afraid that if they do question EFC they might get fired such as Juan Lubbe and Chris Bright.

Those are a few of my reasons for resigning because in my opinion I feel as if I’m being exploited and I will NOT be for 1 min longer, even if that means my MMA days are over with EFC Africa.

 

MG: A lot of people see R30,000 for a fight and think ‘wow thats a lot of money to fight’, but do not really understand where that money goes. Can you give us an explanation as to where it goes and why you require a bigger pay?
Sure, a lot of people would think that but they don’t know half of what’s behind being an MMA athlete, they see it as two men beating the shit out of each other in a cage while they can do it for free in a pub, thus why must we get paid (an in fact shit amount of 30k)? I will tell you why:-
1) 25 -30% of the 30K goes to your trainer/manager , that’s a total of 9k so 30k has just become 21k.
2) Petrol to get back and forth from training 2,5k , 21k has just become 18,5k.
3) Proper diet food +/-  5k over 2months , 18,5k just became 13,5k.
4) Supplements if not sponsored 1,5k over 2 months , 13,5k just became 12k. So that’s just the money part, fighter is now left with 12k from the so called huge amount of 30k and by the way, 30k is only if you  win, otherwise you get half the purse which is 15k, so if you end up losing it’s now costing the fighter cash out of his own pocket to entertain the people that say 30k is so much!

 

BUT WAIT… it’s not just about the money, it’s also about the time spent away from our family and kids every day because we train between 4-6 hours a day, split up into three 2 hour sessions. Needless to say that our wives take a lot of strain in those 2 months because fighters are always sore, tired, hungry and on edge which means that fighters are not always in a good mood as well as our wives since they are feeling the same emotional stress that we fighters go through so our families take a lot of strain to support us and the sport we love so much!

 

MG: What are your plans for fighting in the future? I have seen mention of fighting overseas, any specific promotions we are likely to see you representing SA in?
To be honest right now I don’t know what the future holds for me but I do have options so I’m not gonna “Rush” into anything right away , my aim is to help my team mate Gideon keep his belt on the 5th of June an i’ll keep on training and improve my skill set until something happens!

 

MG: Anything else you want to mention or people you want to give thanks to?
Yes definitely to all my fans,friends and family thank you for being there, giving me support through the ups and downs in my career!

To all the fighters pro and amateur: know what your worth is and don’t settle for anything less! Stand up and make a change if you are not happy because without your talents the show will not go on!! Remember 1 person can’t 
make a change happen fast enough but as a group that is willing to fight for change that’s a different story! 

 

Thanks again and good luck to all the upcoming and existing MMA athletes in South Africa… stand together and make a positive change in order to avoid any more tragedies and disappointments within the EFC Africa promotion! My aim is NOT to break them down, on the contrary it’s to make them realise that without the fighters there will be no promotion! Having the monopoly does not give you the right to make all the rules to only suit EFC Africa!

 

Thank you Tyron for taking time out of your busy schedule to inform us on the reasons for your leaving EFC Africa. We wish you Chok Dee for all your future endeavors and hope to see you fighting somewhere soon. You will be missed until then by all your fans!

 

Now over to you the fans. What do you think about the whole situation? What can you suggest to be done to improve fighter’s pay in order for our favourite athletes to keep entertaining us?

About Guy Lazarus

I am a South African Nak Mauy with a keen interest in MMA and combat sports in general. I run Mauyguy.com to give the world of fighting a South African Nak Muay's perspective. I have been competing in Martial Arts since the age of 7 with some success having come 3rd at IFMA World Championships and have my provincial colours for Judo. One day I will grow up and relinquish my dream of being world champion, but not yet...

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