On Thursday evening, news broke that Miguel Torres was being released from the UFC. Dana White announced in an interview with Sports Illustrated that the former WEC champion was being cut from the organization due to a tweet that Torres posted the day before.
In the interview, White mentioned that he was being interviewed by a Canadian reporter, who referenced the tweet, which left White speechless. Following that interview, White then had a member of his staff talk with Miguel, who stated the tweet was a joke, and is a quote from a television show. White’s staff member then relayed this to White, who then released Torres from the organization.
The problem with all of this is not the premise of releasing a fighter due to his behavior outside of the octagon. The problem with it is the premise of who is more important than what. The person who is making the inappropriate comment is considered more than what the comment is.
Over the last few weeks, rape has somehow become a popular reference for UFC fighters. It started with Forrest Griffin tweeting “Rape is the new missionary”.
Griffin was publicly criticized for the comment, and later apologized for his remark. He then went to a local crisis center for victims of rape, and tried to clear up the air regarding his statement. He said to White that he was watching television, switching to multiple news broadcasts, all of which were discussing a different victim of rape. Griffin then tweeted that statement, attempting to make light of how often the crime occurs.
This was apparently explained to White, who has since explained to media members this is why Griffin was not disciplined for his remarks.
The disconnect from Griffin to Torres, who were essentially doing the same act, is what is most confusing.
White seems to have an issue with Torres tweeting something he saw on television, but does not have a problem with Griffin tweeting something he saw on television.
A different instance regarding a controversial remark actually occurred the day of Torres’ original statement, in which Rashad Evans referenced the ongoing scandal taking place at Penn State involving Jerry Sandusky, who is being charged with multiple counts of sexual assault on underage children.
Evans, a former wrestler at Michigan State, was arguing with his UFC on FOX opponent, former Penn State wrestler Phil Davis, at the event’s press conference in Chicago.
Nearing the end of the event, the two got into a heated argument, discussing the possibility of either being knocked out. Evans ended the argument, stating “I’m gonna put those hands on you worse than that dude did on them other kids at Penn State!”
White stated in the interview with Sports Illustrated that he did not hear Evans’ comment, and was not even aware of what was said until hours after the press conference. Meanwhile, in the video of the press conference, White can clearly be seen laughing right next to Evans following his remark.
This all occurs while Evans is sitting directly next to Chael Sonnen, who has long been both praised and criticized for comments he has made over the last two years.
White states that Evans also came up to him following his remark, and said he was wrong and apologized. White then decided that Evans was not going to be punished for his actions.
Following Torres’ statement on Twitter, White did not even talk to Torres personally. He only used information that was given to him, and made a decision based on that information.
With so many examples of multiple comments, remarks, and insults being made without punishment, how is Torres supposed to know what is and is not allowed?
The UFC announced earlier this year they will give bonuses for fighters that use Twitter actively, specifically for the best tweets during a certain period of time. For a company that promotes their clients to use the social media website, a fighter being released for using the website only makes the decision even more puzzling.
Using the criteria given, putting the names Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Chael Sonnen, and Miguel Torres together, not only is there a large difference in physical stature, but a large difference in media stature as well. Griffin and Evans are both winners of The Ultimate Fighter and former UFC light heavyweight champions. Sonnen is a former middleweight title challenger and Pay-Per-View headliner who could possibly be a part of the biggest rematch of the year in 2012 with Anderson Silva.
Meanwhile, Torres, himself a former champion, albeit in the now defunct WEC, fought on Facebook in his most recent fight at UFC 139 in November.
Which comes back to the apparent reasoning of the dismissal, with Torres being a much less popular fighter, being as confusing as the attempt to defend it by White.
White has long been criticized for his brash behavior towards the media and fans of the UFC. He has publicly called reporters words that rhyme with maggots and start with the letter ‘F’. He has also repeatedly called fans a word that rhymes with runt and starts with the letter ‘C’.
An organization can not be led by a person who makes these kinds of decisions on whether a fighter can be released for insensitive remarks, if that person is also making repeated insensitive remarks.
Just as consistency is the key for a fighter’s career and the success he or she may experience fighting, consistency has to be the key to determining whether that person has a career when not fighting.