Cody McKenzie has retired from MMA. But there is one fight that could bring him back.
The quirky former UFC fighter told MMA Fighting that he would be interested in getting into the Octagon with UFC president Dana White. And he'd do it "for free."
"I would love to fight Dana White," McKenzie said. "I'd love to beat him up. He talks bad about fighters all the time, disrespects fighters. Yeah, he's a piece of work."
McKenzie, who announced his retirement after a knockout loss to Beslan Isaev at M-1 Challenge 54 on Dec. 17, is among those UFC fighters currently speaking out about low wages and poor treatment from promotion brass. The Alaska native said he's leaving the sport, because he can make far more money doing something else, like fishing or welding.
More than anything, McKenzie finds it disrespectful the way White and UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta flaunt their money. The UFC is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion, yet McKenzie said he never made more than $50,000 in one year. He fought seven times for the UFC from 2010 to 2013 and is an alum of the organization's flagship reality show "The Ultimate Fighter."
McKenzie, 27, cites reports about White tipping waitresses and dealers in Las Vegas with tens of thousands of dollars and the Fertittas funding the state-of-the-art stadium at Bishop Gorman High School, where Lorenzo's sons played football.
"It's just a joke," McKenzie said. "I've heard stories about Dana tipping waitresses big money and it's like, 'Damn that's more money than I get paid a year.' That sucks.
"There's a bunch of guys getting their heads pounded in to make them that money struggling. They don't understand the other end of it. They don't understand the struggle. Dana runs around running his mouth all the time about fighters."
That's why McKenzie wouldn't mind showing White what it's like to be an MMA fighter.
"What drives me the most nuts is how he'll talk like he knows," McKenzie said. "All these people who talk about fighting, it's like a million virgins watching a porno. They've never had sex, but they all want to put their input in. It's ridiculous. They all have their input, but until you've been in a fight you have no clue what it's like. That's the bottom line. It's like sex. Until you've done it, you have no clue what's going on."
McKenzie said that the UFC didn't even tell him when he had been released. He said that he called officials three months after his fight with Sam Stout in December 2013, because he wanted his next bout. They responded that he had been cut, but they couldn't get in touch with him to tell him.
"They never had a problem getting ahold of me when they needed me to fight on short notice," McKenzie said. "But when it came down to firing me, [they couldn't]. They all just seem like a bunch of bulls----ers."
If there were more money in the sport, McKenzie said he would keep going. But it's not worth his health at this point, he said. After getting knocked out in M-1, he had enough.
"I ain't trying to get knocked out no more," McKenzie said. "I want to get out while my health is good. I'd like to find something else to do while I'm still able-bodied and not a potato.
"I ain't trying to be punchy. I already feel it coming on."
McKenzie, who is leaving the sport with a 15-6 record and a 3-4 UFC mark, has done salmon fishing in Alaska and said he always made far more money doing that than fighting. He could continue that or get into another trade. McKenzie believes he has options outside of MMA.
"It almost seems like one big joke to the point where I'm just over it," McKenzie said. "I'm going to get a job. I can fish. I liked welding in school, I'm thinking about getting into that. I like art. There's lots of stuff out there to do. I definitely wish I got paid for fighting the best guys in the world, but more than that I just wish they'd treat their fighters good."
McKenzie said he has deleted all of his social media accounts and won't do any more interviews. He's not going to get involved in the antitrust lawsuit filed against the UFC last week, because he doesn't believe in suing and the litigious nature of the current-day United States.
"The AK Kid," who infamously wore Nike shorts with the tag still on them during his UFC fight against Stout, plans on just fading away. He never wanted to be famous and is fine with leaving that life behind.
There is, of course, that one fight that would bring him back, though.
"Dana has never been in a fight," McKenzie said. "I'd fight Dana for free."