James Head has experienced the highs and lows of being a fighter in the UFC.
However, all of that pales in comparison to the destruction and devastation he witnessed first-hand earlier this week when a tornado crossed through his adopted homeland of Oklahoma, leaving many dead and injured, and the town of Moore a wreck.
Now, as the process of rebuilding begins, Head is planning to do all he can to lend a hand – and more.
“I am planning on donating my next UFC fight purse to the victims of the tornado and I have partnered with Cage Fighter, who is selling a #Pray4OK t-shirt that will donate 100-percent of all profits from sales to the victims,” said Head, in an interview with FightLine.com. “More than monetary donations, I plan on getting my hands dirty and helping with cleaning up the mess that the tornado has left behind.”
The tornado heavily impacted the area of Moore, but also caused damage to several surrounding communities. It registered as an EF5 tornado, with winds peaking at 210 miles per hour. Unlike most tornadoes that hit the ground and return to the sky, this one remained on on the ground for 50 minutes, covering a 17-mile path of a heavily populated section of Moore.
Head (9-3) has fought in the UFC since 2011, and been involved in MMA since 2006. He is a native of Illinois, but moved to Oklahoma City five years ago to train with Lovato Jiu Jitsu.
“I have had several tornado ‘scares’ (in the last five years), but this is by far the largest, most destructive tornado that I have ever seen,” he said. “The response (to the cleanup and rebuild) has been amazing – not only have the crews from around the U.S. showed up in full force, but I can’t describe the unity of the Oklahomans that have rallied around helping and giving wholeheartedly.
“I’ve never been more proud of a group of people in my life; the way that everyone is assembling together to help those affected by the storm is truly inspiring.”
Head agreed that the “highs and lows of the sport (of MMA) are so prominent, but when any type of disaster happens where people’s lives are impacted, sports are reduced to what they really are: entertainment.” His most recently scheduled fight was called the day of the event after Nick Catone suffered extreme dehydration and was not allowed to compete.
Fellow UFC fighter Daniel Cormier has also sent word of his impending help, as he is part of the Cage Fighter donation plans, as well.
This isn’t the first time that Moore has been hit with a tornado, as the town was also devastated in 1999. That storm caused an estimated $1 billion in damages and filled 41, injuring another 583.
Early reports of the recent tornado have over 2,400 homes damage and 10,000 people affected this time around. Moore is located some 12 miles from Oklahoma City.
“I am sure that the community will pool together and build the city back up from the rubble,” Head said.