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Jessica Andrade is right not to be ashamed of Only Fans account — UFC? That’s a different story

UFC fighters should not have to focus on alternative forms of income while competing for promotion worth “$9-$10 billion.”

Jessica Andrade made a good income from Only Fans
Jessica Andrade made a good income from Only Fans
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Anyone looking to shame former UFC women’s flyweight champion for her decision to open an Only Fans account needn’t bother. The 29-year-old, who fights Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 266 – which coincidentally takes place on Andrade’s 30th birthday – clearly seems to have weighed the pros and the cons before she began using the platform a few months ago. So, when a photo that was part of a package to one of her patrons was leaked, the Brazilian fighter took it in stride. She even found some humor in the situation.

Speaking to MMA Fighting, Andrade said of the leaked photo was part of a “…package to one person but you don’t know this person’s heart and nature, and unfortunately that happened.”

Andrade, who joined Only Fans after a discussion with her wife, Fernanda Gomes, added, “I wasn’t upset because I already imagined it could happen. I’ve seen that happen to other fighters as well. … I wasn’t upset because I did all this knowing that it would leak eventually.

“I’m 30 and my body won’t look pretty for the rest of my life, so we have to enjoy it while it’s nice. No one will want to see it later. [Laughs] Better use it now, than when it’s gone. But I wasn’t upset. I thought it was funny because people did a lot of memes.”

That an adult should be shamed for deciding, for any reason, to use their body in any way that doesn’t hurt anyone else is repulsive. So it’s admirable that Andrade couldn’t seem to care less. If anyone at all needs to feel ashamed that a star athlete is finding a major portion of her income on Only Fans, it should be the organization that’s profiting so well off her work. The UFC should be looking at this as an indictment of their position as a sport on the level of the NBA, NFL, or Major League Baseball.

Too often it seems the fact that these professional athletes shouldn’t have to seek other forms of income outside of their UFC contracts gets lost in the discussion.

The UFC is a cash cow. Earlier this year, the promotion signed a single “partnership” deal that was worth a reported $175 million. All of that cash went into the UFC’s growing bank account. And that’s just from one deal of the promotion’s many merchandising and sponsorship deals.

In order to get an inkling of how much the UFC brings in via its “partnerships,” look at the UFC 264 fighting surface. There were over 20 branding opportunities in and around the Octagon for that fight card. To the best of my knowledge, the UFC fighters did not see a cent of those deals.

UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3
UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The promotion also reported that the first six months of 2021 resulted in the “biggest first half in UFC history.”

Despite the cash flying into the UFC coffers, UFC fighters – unlike participants in other major sports such as NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL (which have collective bargaining agreements that mandate how revenue is shared) – have to focus on alternative forms of income. That’s shameful.

I’m glad Andrade can make enough money via Only Fans to provide for herself and her wife and their family. But the fact remains, her energy would be better spent improving as an athlete and focusing on her job rather than worrying that a company that is reportedly worth $9-10 billion isn’t providing her – a one-time champion, a three-time title challenger and a current No. 1 ranked UFC fighter – a wage representative of her status with the organization.

For fans that may want to shame someone or something, direct that energy at the UFC and their executives. They deserve every milligram.