Former UFC lightweight Sam Stout, one half of a classic trilogy with Spencer Fisher, has started a GoFundMe for his opponent.
Stout started the online fundraiser this past week to raise money to help pay for Fisher’s out-of-pocket medication costs and other needs. The drive has more than doubled its initial goal of $2,000 – Stout said he didn’t want to “overdo” it by asking for more – with $4,600 in donations as of this writing. The page will be active for a few weeks.
“It’s great to get him a couple thousand bucks, but it’s a short-term solution,” Stout told MMA Fighting. “It’s pretty sad to see.”
As MMA Fighting previously reported, the 17-time UFC vet now suffers from symptoms consistent with a future diagnosis of CTE and has been declared permanently disabled and unable to work. The UFC paid for Fisher to see several neurologists after a routine brain scan revealed lesions on his brain and signed him to a three-year contract for PR work he rarely did. After the company was sold in 2016, the promotion chose not to renew the contract, which provided him $5,000 monthly.
Fisher’s situation was “heartbreaking” to Stout but not a surprise. The two kept in touch over the years as Fisher sought treatment, and Stout respected his colleague’s wish to keep his struggles private.
Despite a bruising trio of fights with Fisher and a 20-fight career in the octagon, Stout said he is “lucky” to be in relatively good health, though he takes medication for depression and anxiety issues he said weren’t present before he started fighting.
Stout attributes his health to recovery time taken after bouts. He said the damage he took was mostly in the gym, and that’s one of the reasons he believes the UFC should provide some sort of long-term health care for fighters like Fisher.
“It’s always a risky thing to say anything about the UFC’s practices, but we’re talking about a guy that I’ve got a bond with that’s going to last the rest of our lives,” he said. “Spencer’s earned my respect almost more than any other man walking this planet. Just to see him twisting in the wind with no help, it’s really hard for me to watch, because it could have been me.
“I think some things need to change. There’s more information coming to light about CTE and the lasting effects of head injuries. I think ongoing medical coverage for the fighters should be part of their expenses that they need to factor into their business. Sometimes I think they worry about the bottom line more than the people that are making their company the great powerhouse that it is. I think it’s not right and something needs to change.”
In response to Fisher’s story, UFC President Dana White said the 44-year-old retired fighter is “not the first and he’s definitely not going to be the last” to suffer lasting effects from fighting and that “brain issues” are “part of the gig.” The promotion earlier this year announced a new $1 million round of funding to the Professional Athlete Brain Health Study that examines the long-term effects of brain trauma; the contribution is spread out over five years and amounts to a yearly $200,000 payout. According to White, the UFC is also “diving into” a John Hopkins study on psychedelics and brain health.