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‘I would do it for free, but I have to be well-paid’: UFC 281’s Renato Moicano discusses ‘ambiguous’ approach to fighting career

MMA: MAR 05 UFC 272
Renato Moicano
Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Renato Moicano’s passionate post-fight speech at UFC 271 earlier this year saying he “wants money” didn’t lead to the $50,000 performance bonus he was hoping for after choking out Alexander Hernandez in Texas. He won’t turn on the UFC for that though.

The American Top Team athlete jumped on the opportunity to face former champion Rafael dos Anjos less than a month later, losing a five-round decision to the fellow Brazilian on a few days’ notice. Moicano knows he risked a few brain cells in that 25-minute war, but would do it all over again.

“I began to understand that every fight I have is an investment,” Moicano said on this week’s Trocação Franca ahead of his UFC 281 bout with Brad Riddell in New York. “The same way a guy is investing in stocks and funds, I’m investing with my work, I’m investing in money.

“And if I’m literally investing my life and sweat, if I’m investing my sweat and blood when I could be with my family, if I’m investing in literally losing some brain cells, getting punched in the face like my last fight, I have to get paid well for this and I have to learn to deal with money.”

The son of a public servant in Brasilia, Moicano said that his father’s job stability led to him never being taught finances at home. As an MMA fighter — a job that only gets you paid when you do enter a ring or cage to compete — Moicano realized he had to be smart in handling his money for his post-career life.

“My financial life is being built long before [that UFC 271 interview], so I have money coming in after I retire,” Moicano said. “It’s time to collect now, to fight and win, sign new contracts and win more money so I don’t have to worry about having invested my entire life in sports with no financial return.”

Competing in MMA since 2010 and having beaten the likes of Jeremy Stephens, Calvin Kattar and Cub Swanson in 13 octagon appearances over nearly eight years, the Brazilian says he hasn’t changed his end line due to fear of those brain cells lost along the way.

“That’s what’s funny about it,” Moicano said. “Money is crucial, money is something we invented and humankind will never be able to free itself from it because it’s how we make exchanges, that’s how we produce and make our lives better, but money is as crucial as it is expendable because I would do everything I do for free. The two things in life are finding something you’d do for free and be well-paid for it.

“And that’s why I’m so thankful. You’ll never see me complaining about the UFC or how much I’m paid because that doesn’t matter. Everybody has their own struggles. I have to put my knees on the ground and be thankful for being able to do what I love and being paid for it. But like I told you, I have to be well-paid because I’m one of the best in the world and I’m putting my health on the line.

“It sounds ambiguous, antagonistic, something that makes no sense. I would do it for free, but I have to be well-paid because I do it well. It’s funny, but that’s exactly how I feel.”

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