MMA might seem like a sport for only the most savage of humans, but last Saturday, two Brazilian fighters had a heartwarming exchange that showed just how much kindness can be found in a sport where people beat each other up.
Brazilian news outlet Globo reported that after Filipe Esteves won his MMA fight against Rildeci Dias, he made the announcement that he’d be donating his fight earnings to Dias. Esteves says that he made the decision after learning that Dias had paid for his own bus ticket and traveled about 35 hours for the fight, cutting weight during his bus journey there.
Esteves spoke to his father about what he’d learned about his opponent, saying that Dias’ situation wasn’t uncommon for athletes in Brazil. Knowing that his opponent would be spending about as much on transportation as he’d potentially earn from the fight, Esteves elected to donate his purse before the fight had even started.
Since MMA Brazil didn’t pay win bonuses for the event, Esteves’ gesture meant that Dias went home with both fighters’ flat fee payments for their fight: about $248 total. Since he had to pay for his bus ticket back to Salvador to Belem, Dias still only went home with about $19, according to MMA Fighting.
The promotion’s executive director cited a tight budget when explaining why the athletes’ transportation wasn’t paid for, but said that they put the athletes up in a nice hotel and provided them a nice meal at a fancy restaurant.
According to MMA Fighting, Esteves isn’t a rich man, either. He’s a member of Brazil’s national wrestling team and didn’t have the funds to compete at the World Wrestling Championships in Kazakhstan. Since MMA offers greater financial opportunities than wrestling at the moment — and he has a baby daughter to take care of — Esteves’ wrestling dreams have taken a back seat so he can prioritize his MMA career. However, a crowdfunding campaign has been set up to help him make it to the WWC, and it’s currently sitting at about 10% of its goal. You can donate to the fund here.
The world (and the martial arts circuit) is far from perfect, but thanks to interactions like the one between Esteves and Dias, ordinary people can make things a little brighter for others.