By Jonathan Solomon
It may not be pattern but when similar stories appear in the news, you would not be wrong to think otherwise. This week, UFC fighters Josh Thomson and Roy Nelson managed to find controversy with comments issued via Twitter, Facebook and in a media interview.
Lightweight contender Josh Thomson took to the two popular social media outlets to talk about the issue of gay marriage. He wondered aloud whether it’s a slippery slope to such things as polygamy, incest and, “adults trying to marry young kids.” After a press release from the fighter attempted put his earlier comments into further context, he doubled down on the issue “between equality and controversy,” once again citing the desire of some to legalize polygamy.
In that same press release, Thomson insisted he was not against gay rights or gay marriage. Note that between all of his comments on the matter, he never used any slurs or directly hateful language.
Meanwhile, there’s Roy Nelson just days before his fight at UFC 161 against Stipe Miocic, which happens to also be the final fight on his current contract with the promotion. After a press conference to promote the show, Nelson spoke to Ariel Helwani and used the historically demeaning term, “Uncle Tom” to describe fellow heavyweight Daniel Cormier. It stemmed from an earlier comment from Cormier in which he said he wanted to fight Nelson “for Dana White.” In response, after mentioning how his friends brought up the phrase, ‘Big Country’ said “They would say that would be more of an Uncle Tom move.”
The UFC has not yet commented publicly about the comments from either Thomson or Nelson, but based on their desire to curb such controversy, it’s fair to expect fines at the least.
The face of the most profitable MMA promotion in the world is its president, Dana White and he is perhaps most famous for his tendency to engage in verbal battles. Whether it’s in reference to competing television network heads, the media, fighters or trainers – or essentially anyone with a pulse who makes his life more difficult – he usually will not shied away from letting loose with a microphone in front of him.
White often cites a controversial 2009 interview he gave in which he used a derogatory term for homosexuals as his mot regretful in the public eye. In recent years, especially, the organization has made greater efforts to work with gay rights organizations and they have tended to not to let fighters slide when they make comparable mistakes.
Such was the case in recent months when Nate Diaz referred to Bryan Caraway in similar fashion, regardless of how his agent attempted to downplay the situation. It was also the case when Matt Mitrione spouted off at the mouth attacking female transgender fighter Fallon Fox. After an internal investigation, Diaz was suspended for 90 days and fined $20,000. When the UFC investigated Mitrione’s context, he was fined an undisclosed amount and has since been booked to fight Brendan Schaub in July.
Now, the company’s code of conduct may come into play again because of two additional situations this week.
What are your thoughts?