In recent years the UFC has found itself under more scrutiny from opposers of the sport of MMA. Fighters had always had a free roam to do or say most things outside of the cage with little to no repercussions. This new added level of exposure really made this unmanageable and the UFC decided to implement a UFC Fighter Conduct Policy in April 2013.
The full UFC Fighter Conduct Policy can be found through the link below:
Now these guidelines, regulations or rules are in black and white and should not really be subject to selectivity or preferentiality. It’s a legally binding document that should be adhered to without question. Is that the case with the UFC though?
They have shown to use it selectively on many occasions, and while it is there in spirit, it isn’t really being used as it should. It seems to lack any real relevance given the UFC’s desire to only apply it when they feel, as opposed to when a fighter actually breaks the policy.
In short here are the main regulations from the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy:
i. “As the UFC’s highest profile independent contractors and as ambassadors of the sport of mixed martial arts, UFC fighters are held to a high standard by the UFC, the media and the public. Responsible conduct advances the interests of the sport and the fighters. Conversely, irresponsible conduct by a fighter tarnishes the reputation of both the affected fighter and the UFC and undermines the positive image set by other fighters.
While criminal activity by a UFC fighter is clearly detrimental to the reputation of the UFC and therefore subjects the fighter to discipline, other conduct can also result in disciplinary action.”
ii. “Fighters shall conduct themselves in accordance with commonly accepted standards of decency, social convention, and morals, and fighters will not commit any act or become involved in any situation or occurrence or make any statement which will reflect negatively upon or bring disrepute, contempt, scandal, ridicule or disdain to the fighter or the UFC.”
iii. “Derogatory or offensive conduct, including without limitation insulting language, symbols, or actions about a person’s ethnic background, heritage, color, race, national origin, age, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.”
Just to highlight the trend -which for me has become apparent given some recent actions – here are situations the UFC has and hasn’t applied it’s UFC Fighter Conduct Policy to:
April 2013: The incident which birthed the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. Matt Mitrione makes transphobic comments about transgender fighter Fallon Fox on The MMA Hour. He would go on to be reprimanded, which culminated in an undisclosed fine and a suspension lasting a little over two weeks.
May 2013: Reza Madadi is arrested on suspicion of aggravated burgalry. He was sentenced to 18 months after being found guilty on two separate occasions. First in the initial trial, then the second time on appeal. He was released from his UFC contract due to the crime but miraculously he was then re-signed after leaving prison in March. He was back in the UFC by June 2015.
Sept 2013: Benjamin Brinsa is released from his UFC contract over alleged Neo-Nazi affiliations. Those allegations have still not been confirmed.
Feb 2014: TUF Nations contestant Tyler Manawaroa was told he wouldn’t be receiving a contract from the UFC no matter how well he did on the show. The UFC were made aware of a severely racist post on Manawaroa’s Instagram account which lead to this outcome.
Feb 2014: Thiago Silva is released from his contract following an accusation of domestic abuse along with other accusations. He was later re-signed after the charges were dropped. He would then go on to be re-released in Sept 2014 as new evidence came to light. At this point the evidence supporting the September release is still very questionable.
April 2014: Will Chope is released from his UFC contract following revelations of past domestic abuse of his former partner.
April 2014: Ronda Rousey makes derogatory comments towards Cyborg Justino saying ‘She’s not a woman, she’s an it’. The comments fall under the derogatory or offensive conduct stupulated in the policy and go way beyond the line of general smack talk. Given that Dana and Joe Rogan have also been known to mutter comments of the same nature it’s no surprise Rousey wasn’t warned about this incredibly offensive remark.
Aug 2014: Accusations of racism were hurled at Donald Cerrone from fellow UFC Lightweight Bobby Green. Green claimed Cerrone had made a comment about ‘blacks liking to steal’. This was at the UFC fan expo a month prior. The same event Cerrone was admittedly very drunk and had also been accused of groping women. The UFC failed to investigate the accusations.
Sept 2014: Information regarding Anthony Johnson and a history of domestic abuse came to light. First up was a case in which he took a plea in 2009 -the incident involved Johnson knocking his former partners teeth out- then a more recent case dated in March 2014 in which he grabbed his former partner by the throat and left bruises and grab marks on her -all of which were documented, but the former partner declined to press charges-. Johnson was suspended but then reinstated only 7 weeks later.
Nov 2014: Conor McGregor sent a derogatory and discriminatory tweet directed at Denis Siver when he called him a Nazi. He wasn’t warned or brought to any form of contrition by the UFC. Later he would offer a half-arsed apology in which he still mocked Siver.
Dec 2014: Clay Guida calls Conor McGregor an ‘Irish Potato Picker’ – a deeply offensive and derogatory terms relating to Irish slave workers. Guida wasn’t reprimanded for his terrible comments.
Jan 2015: Jon Jones is fined $25,000 for failing an out of competition drug test after he tested positive for cocaine metabolites on the 4th December 2014. He received no suspension.
April 2015: In April of 2015 an incident occurred that pretty much transcended the sport and made mainstream news. It was an event so large that the UFC couldn’t help but step up and enforce their policy -their hands were tied. Had this been another high profile star, in a somewhat smaller incident that still broke the policy, then things may have been a lot different. That wasn’t the case. Something had to be done when then Light Heavyweight champ Jon Jones was involved in a two car crash which he proceeded to flee from the scene while allegedly under the influence. To boot they also found drug paraphernalia in his rental car. Bare in mind his was only a few short months after Jones had failed a drug test for cocaine metabolites.
To recount the entire incident would be a long read and take up too much space for the purposes of this article. You can find everything on that incident hrough this link: http://Ex-UFC champ Jon Jones avoids jail time, gets probation …
May 2015: In May of this year Ronda Rousey released a book detailing a violent encounter in which she admitted to – and could also be perceived to be bragging- about hitting a former boyfriend. She has since backtracked and offered numerous mindnumbingly dumb theories to justify her actions, such as being held hostage, kidnapping and self defence. None of which are true given she threw the first blow and her definition of being held hostage and kidnapping consist of someone standing in a door way or asking her not to leave. The admission of a violent crime has not been punished by the UFC. Even surrounding the massive amount of media coverage it garnered.
July 2015: In early July Travis Browne was accused of domestic abuse by his now estranged wife Jenna Renee Webb. Images showing bruises on Webb were posted on her instagram page and the UFC proceeded to investigate the matter. Browne was suspended indefinitely and after two months the results of said investigation came back as inconclusive. In August 2015 Webb expressed her desire to proceed with civil charges after the inconclusive outcome. At present that doesn’t seem to be happening as Browne is scheduled to fight. Had court proceedings been put in motion he would have had to have been placed on suspension again until a definitive outcome was reached. Assuming the UFC has been following their policy.
Nov 2015: Tim Kennedy calls Edmond Tarverdyan a ‘Terrorist Sympathiser’ – a blatantly ignorant and racist term aimed at Tarverdyan with no foundation. Kennedy has yet to receive any form of punishment although blatantly falling foul of the Fighter Conduct Policy. Kennedy has offered no clarification on the matter.
Obviously while fairly deep, this isn’t as extensive as naming every incident but rather an outline of some of the more prominent cases. What’s apparent from these incidents is that there is no consistency to abide to the policy. A lesser name fighter such as Chope is cut from the UFC for a violent domestic case yet others with higher profiles such as Anthony Johnson and Ronda Rousey are given considerably -in fact that’s not even enough- they are given massive leeway on their past crimes, and in both cases they had evidence against them.
Anyway heres the kicker for those that missed it. Reading back over the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy it becomes apparent that the UFC has in fact implemented some language that pretty much makes all the rules and regulations in the policy null and void.
“UFC will have full authority to impose disciplinary measures on the fighter as warranted in its sole discretion.”
Sole discretion in this case could be replaced with a sentence such as this:
“If your earning potential outweighs the bad press -and all press is good press; as they say- then you will be given preferential treatment outside of the rules covered in the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy.”
Ahhh, good old Sole Discretion.
Photo credit: MMA Weekly