Fans often assume that the world of MMA and combat sports, in general, is full of glamour and glory. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Behind all the prestige and charm lies a dark reality, something that only a handful have experienced. Unfortunately, UFC Bantamweight Duda Santana has seen the comparatively murkier times.
In a heartbreaking interview with Combate, Cowboyzinha reveals that the Coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on her family. Due to the lockdown and inability to work, she started struggling to keep food on the table.
“I’m not working, neither is my mother. There are days that we wake up with nothing and God provides. It’s one day at a time. The situation is complicated. It has been a long time since I fought, the money has run out.” says Duda Santana as she talks about her plight.
Santana shares her house with mother, 6 siblings, and her 4-year-old daughter at the City of God favela, Rio De Janeiro. The 24-year old fighter had to rely on the kindness of her roster-mates to survive.
“We’re broke like everyone else. I depend on the fight and the win, and I was counting on the money. We work hard and train hard every day to fight, so it’s a bit frustrating,” says Sanatana who was forced to pull out of a fight with Sarah Alpar ahead of the global pandemic.
The Brazilian is eager to fight and even volunteered to feature on the first “Fight Island” card. However, the fighter admits that she is afraid to venture out, with the threat of the virus looming over her head.
“I want to fight, but I think it will take a bit. [Coronavirus] worries me. I’ll tell you this, I’m scared of this virus. I just heard that a friend of a friend, someone we know, just died. He was 28 and very healthy. That scares you,” says Santana as she hopes to find her way back to the octagon. [via MMA Fighting]
However, it may be a long wait for that opportunity, considering how the governments have imposed restrictions on travel.
But all said and done the money she looks to earn from one single fight, could change everything for her family. A $10,000 check would set them up for an “entire year”, said the fighter.
After the interview surfaced online, UFC Lightweight Alan Patrick was one of the first people to respond. Patrick took charge of an effort to help his fellow fighter survive the lockdown.
Patrick went on to share a link on a Whatsapp group with almost 80 fighters. In the hope of gathering donations for the Brazilian. The first to chip in was Glover Teixeira followed by the likes of Amanda Ribas, Anderson dos Santos, and Raphael Pessoa.
“I helped ‘Cowboyzinha’ because I’ve been in her situation before. I know how it feels to be hungry, to share a house with several siblings, and not have anything to eat. We know ‘Cowboyzinha’ and her family are victims of the system. The system doesn’t let you acquire knowledge and grow as a person,” says Patrick as he sympathizes with Duda.
Patrick who has seen both ends of the spectrum blames the promotion’s office in Brazil for not stepping up and helping Santana and other fighters who may in a similar situation.
“It’s embarrassing not for me, but for the organization in Brazil. They could have thought, ‘no, let me do this.’ I started the campaign and talked to other UFC fighters. ‘Are we going to see this story and not do nothing while our friend starves?’ Doing for someone what others have done for me in the past is priceless,” says the fighter who used to shine shoes in the streets of Brasilia as a child.
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