Combat Sports Insurance’s Jay Augusta on Fighter Safety and the Need for Promoters to Step Up Kyle Symes June 8, 2012 UFC The regulation of MMA is quite the topic of debate in the MMA community. Following an article I wrote about the regulation (or lack thereof) in Illinois for amateur MMA, one person who decided to make his feelings felt was Jeremy Augusta. Augusta works for a company called Combat Sports Insurance (CSI). CSI offers promoters insurance coverage to make sure their fighters are protected. As Augusta explained to The MMA Corner, CSI’s belief in fighter safety goes well beyond the moments inside the cage. “Now, though, to make things even safer, each promoter gets a free day of fighter insurance the day before the event,” Augusta said. Why should fighters be covered the day before an event? Well, many professional fighters competing on the regional level tend to compete in areas that are within driving distance of their hometowns. Thus, many fighters travel by car to weigh-ins the day before an event. CSI’s day-before coverage makes sure a fighter would be covered if an accident occurred, something Augusta has seen happen. “A little over a month ago we as a community lost a pro fighter who was in a car accident on his way to weigh in the day before the event. While traveling a car was passing in a no passing zone and hit him head on and now that fighter is sadly no longer with us,” Augusta explained. The accident impacted Augusta and changed the way he thought about how to help fighters. “That night, I made the decision that to make the sport even safer all promotions who work with Combat Sports Insurance get a free day of insurance to cover the fighters while they are in their travels the day before. So from the moment they walk out their front door to go to the event, they are covered with medical and life insurance,” Augusta said. This extra coverage is straight out of CSI’s pockets and costs the promoter nothing extra. As you can tell, Augusta and his company genuinely care for the fighter’s well being. That passion for fighter safety is something he believes isn’t shared by all the promoters he works with. “I will work with 10 promoters a day, and I can always tell in the first few moments of the conversation if they have ever stepped in a cage or not,” said Augusta. “When a promoter has never competed they go with the state minimum, which varies from state to state; when the promoter has been a fighter, they ask what the state minimum is and ask to increase it.” Augusta believes that while his company pulls out all the stops to help fighters, the fight promoters need to step up on their end as well. “What is making me so upset is that these fighters—no matter if they are amateur or pro—are real people with jobs, families, etc. and they are being treated like a commodity,” Augusta explained. His viewpoint on the importance of fighters is one shared by myself as well. The fighters are why people come to shows, and they help build the promoter’s brand. Very few times have I ever heard a fan say they were going to a local show due to the name of the promoter rather than the name of the fighter. “How a promoter can ask these guys to compete for their promotion and not care enough to cover them with insurance to take care of the injuries they sustain while competing for their event blows my mind and really just pisses me off… They are not the expendable commodity they are being treated as,” Augusta said. Augusta turned back to the story about the fighter passing away in the car crash as an example of a promoter not caring about the people that help make him/her money. “Not one of the fighters had insurance provided by the event, but the promoter had $5 million policy to protect himself. Bullsh*t!” exclaimed Augusta. “He paid money to protect himself if there was any legal trouble, but didn’t pay a penny to cover the competitors if they were injured.” A point Augusta was keen to voice his opinion on from my original article was the idea of “fighters know what they are getting themselves into,” an argument being used in other professional sports like American football with its problems with concussions. “Yes, every one of these guys knows exactly what they are getting in to,” admitted Augusta. “Football players know that also, and they know when they get hurt there is medical insurance already in place to take care of them; the MMA industry needs to be the same way… This is a sport with athletes, not a bar fight.” Things are changing for MMA fighters, but as with any major change, the process is slow and gradual. Augusta shared his happiness at working with some of the few people attempting to change the sport for the better. Let’s hope more people jump onto the bandwagon for fighter safety as Combat Sports Insurance and that others lead the way. For more information on CSI, check out their website and follow them on Twitter: @CombatSportsIns Photo: Combat Sports Insurance (Facebook) JEREMY AUGUSTA Just to clear something up, 99% of the promoters out there are great and love their fighters. I can say that 100% of the great people I get to work with all care about their fighters very much. It is the ones who don’t care about their guys or try to protect them that really bother me. There are not many out there that don’t care about their guys, but the few that are that way are hurting the sport. Again though, it is only a few that are like that, most promoters are great people but when they get insurance to protect only them and not their fighters is when I get upset.