Opening Round: You’re Joking, Right?

It’s the day before UFC 140, an event headlined by a sensational young champion in perhaps his stiffest challenge to date and featuring three future UFC Hall of Fame fighters. However, as terrific as the trio of those main card bouts may be, a different story has captured the MMA community’s collective attention – the sudden release of bantamweight Miguel Torres after making an inappropriate joke about rape on Twitter.

The entire situation is shameful on numerous levels, the least of which may be Torres’ lack of sensitivity on the topic even if he claims he was only quoting a television show he was watching at the time (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Without question his attempt at humor was in poor taste, especially as a public figure that has nothing to do with comedy, and to relay it to the world through the internet without any context whatsoever falls under the umbrella of idiocy.

That being said, at the end of the day it was one remark from a guy with years of service at a high-level who busted his ass to entertain and interact with fans. If that doesn’t buy you verbal flub, especially considering the guy who signs your paychecks might as well be an octopus when it comes to the number of feet he’s inserted into his own mouth, then I am at a loss for what sort of company Dana White is running. Torres deserved to be punished, perhaps fined $50,000 with it all going to charities related to the cause, but in no way should he have been released or potentially banned for life.

Were it as simple as believing the UFC intended to cut anyone who ever said something similar I would have no issue but Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans remain employed, each light heavyweight having recently referenced sexual assault while trying to be witty. Worse yet, Evans spoke specifically about the Penn State situation while trash-talking towards former Nittany Lion Phil Davis meaning actual victims were made light of rather than the act of rape in general.

Cutting Torres while retaining Evans/Griffin creates the perception the UFC selectively hands out discipline, not that they care one way or another about the matter deemed as being so dastardly; that if you are a draw you are safe, if you’re anything less you’re at risk. Furthermore, guys who test positive for performance enhancing and recreational drugs or break the law are kept around. The same is true of those who use homophobic slurs towards opponents. Without consistency there can be no credibility in the system and as such making Torres a “free agent” so quickly creates confusion rather than understanding.

It’s time the UFC puts together an organized system with a detailed behavior policy including consequences for their athletes. A business wanting to maintain a certain professional image and recognizing employees need to be accountable for their behavior on that front is absolutely understandable. The NFL asks players/coaches to “protect the shield” and so should the UFC want fighters to “protect the Octagon at all times” as it were, not just themselves while in the midst of a match-up. Until a plan is laid out and adhered to no matter who slips up the UFC will appear like a second-rate sports organization rather than something deserving of attention alongside the big boys.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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