Covington issues apology for comments, UFC will review issue

October 29, 2017

The UFC will review post-fight comments made by Colby Covington in the Octagon last night at UFC Fight Night 119 in Brazil.  Covington has issued an “apology” of sorts but the comments show the line between gimmick and insensitivity.

Covington earned a victory over Demian Maia and proceeded to call the Brazilian crowd “animals” and Brazil a dump.  UFC exec David Shaw noted that they were not very happy with Covington’s comments.

Covington issued an apology of sorts:

Of course, Covington is not employed by the UFC if that who he is referring to in the tweet.  As we know, UFC fighters are independent contractors.

Covington noted that the crowd was hostile toward him and it appears that his comments were made in retaliation.  It is not the first time an American has received less than hospitable greeting from a Brazilian crowd.  Also, it is not the first time that a UFC fighter has made racially insensitive remarks.  Conor McGregor had made derogatory remarks about Jose Aldo and Brazil.  Whether or not he realized it, McGregor also made racially driven comments about Nate Diaz and Floyd Mayweather.  During his feud with Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen made remarks about Brazilian kids “playing in the mud.”

Payout Perspective:

Covington’s comments are not uncommon which is an issue the sport must address.  If you want to be a professional, you have to handle yourself accordingly and I assume under the new ownership they will want their fighters to act like a pro.  This would mean not responding to taunts from fans and understanding what is correct and what is not correct in making comments.  While a portion of this may do with inciting a reaction, there is a fine line that a professional must know without going over the line.   Moreover, you have to realize your place in the company.  While a McGregor may have more of a rope with his comments, Covington is not a known name.  I would expect the UFC to address this situation with some sort of sensitivity training.

McGregor caught using homophobic slur on camera

October 23, 2017

Conor McGregor used a homophobic slur at a UFC over the weekend which will test the UFC as to how to handle the situation with its biggest superstar.

Cameras caught McGregor using the slur when talking to Artem Lobov.  Videos showing the slur were deleted from official accounts.

McGregor has been vocal for equality when the question of same sex marriage arose and supported a referendum in favor of it.

This past summer McGregor used the term “boy” when referring to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. during their press tour which drew a stir about the racial insensitivity of the remark.

Earlier this month Fabricio Werdum was admonished by the UFC and ordered to do LGBTQ outreach for homophobic remarks made during a UFC press conference.

No word from the UFC if there will be any repercussions.

(h/t:  MMA Fighting)

Payout Perspective:

The obvious difference between McGregor’s remarks and Werdum’s was that the UFC heavyweight made the remarks during an official UFC event while McGregor’s were intended to be private.  Still, that does not absolve him of the insensitivity.  But, the UFC will have to make a decision on what to do since it has sponsors that it does not want to offend.  The slur by McGregor is one of those “locker room” remarks that is no longer acceptable.  In fact, it should never have been acceptable but for ignorance.  One would expect McGregor and the UFC to comment with an apology soon.

UFC to host more than 1,500 first responders at 216

October 6, 2017

Dana White announced that over 1,500 first responders as well as some injured in the horrific shooting on Sunday will attend UFC 216 Saturday.  White told TSN the news the day before the event.

Everyone at the weigh-ins on Friday were Vegas Strong apparel in support of the community after the tragic mass shooting on Sunday night.  The shirts, made by Fanatics, are being sold at UFC.com with proceeds going to help the families affected by the shooting.  In addition, earlier this week, the UFC announced it was donating $1 million to families of the shooting victims.

Payout Perspective:

It will be an emotional night for the UFC on Saturday.  It was a nice gesture by the UFC and a showing of community by the Vegas-based company.  Of course, the underlying issue here is that the event was not selling well as there are still many tickets available on the primary market with the get-in price at a very affordable $55.

UFC “disappointed” with Werdum, will do LGBTQ outreach

October 1, 2017

Fabricio Werdum will do outreach in the LGBTQ community as a result of a tirade at a UFC 216 Media Lunch last week with Tony Ferguson.  Werdum used a homophobic slur directed to Ferguson during a confrontation with the UFC lightweight.  As a result, the UFC has issued a statement expressing its disappointment with Werdum.

The UFC released a statement (via MMA Fighting):

The UFC organization is disappointed with recent comments made by Fabricio Werdum at a promotional event in Los Angeles. The nature and implication of his comments do not reflect UFC’s views and will not be tolerated, no matter the manner in which they are used.

We acknowledge and appreciate that Fabricio has since apologized to the organization and to anyone he may have offended with his words. As high profile athletes, role models, and global ambassadors of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, athletes under contract with UFC are required to abide by the Athlete Conduct Policy. Given his breach of this policy, Fabricio has agreed to perform community outreach within the LGBTQ community in Las Vegas, taking steps to enact change and make a direct impact within the community.

Werdum attempted to apologize himself explaining away his comments:

Payout Perspective:

Regardless of Werdum’s explanation, he should understand that this is not the gym and he has to carry himself like a professional.  Getting into a heated argument with someone not even in your division makes no sense and has no payoff.  Not only does Werdum look bad, but he created a public relations issue for the UFC which won’t do him any favors with the UFC.

Mayweather-McGregor may use 8 ounce gloves

August 10, 2017

The Nevada State Athletic Commission will be looking into changing the glove size for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight at its next meeting on August 16th.  Mayweather has requested that the glove size be changed from the typical 10-ounce gloves for the 147-pound weight division to 8 ounce gloves.

In MMA, the glove weight is four ounces.

In a report on BoxingScene.com, Association of Boxing Commission rules dictate that boxers must wear 8 ounce gloves contested at the 147 pound weight limited and lower.  Above the 147 pound require boxers to wear the 8 ounce gloves.

Mayweather went on social media to make it known that he is making the request for the change.

Don’t believe what you hear in the media. Don’t believe what you hear on blog sites. If it’s not coming directly from me, then it’s not true. I’m telling McGregor, “Let’s fight in 8 oz gloves”. McGregor can fight in any brand he prefers or chooses. I’ll be wearing 8 oz Grant gloves. Whatever advantage McGregor needs to feel more comfortable in the ring, I’m willing to accommodate. Let’s give the boxing and MMA fans what they want to see. @grantworldwide @mayweatherpromotions

A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on

According to the report, the parties may have a right to submit a waiver before the commission to use the 8 ounce gloves and explain the reasons why.  The commission will then vote on the waiver.  However, it appears that this has rarely, if ever, has happened.

This is not the first time Mayweather has sparred with his opponent over gloves.  He disputed the use of Everlast gloves by Marcos Maidana in their first fight in 2014.

Payout Perspective:

At first, it seemed like a ploy with Floyd knowing that the contract stated it was 147 pounds.  But now – it still seems like a plea for fans to watch the fight.  The public relations aspect here is that Floyd wants to make it clear that Conor McGregor has a chance of beating him.  The smaller gloves are supposed to be advantageous for the MMA fighter.  With most analysts acknowledging that McGregor has little, if any chance, the parties are thinking of something to make it seem more competitive.  The 8 ounce gloves provide some semblance of leveling a playing field with the opportunity for McGregor to knock Floyd out.  I would assume this happens as the commission will likely allow the sides to proceed so long as each party agrees.

UFC PR Exec Sholler leaves for NBA job

October 13, 2016

Dave Sholler, the UFC’s Vice President of Public Relations, Athlete Marketing and Development, is leaving the UFC to take on a role with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.

Dana White first broke the news on UFC Tonight and Sholler confirmed his departure on twitter.

Sholler worked in PR with the WEC and came over to the Zuffa-owned UFC brand upon the merger in 2009.  Sholler is best remembered for his attempt to stop a face of altercation between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones in August 2014.

Sholler’s last event with the UFC will be the November 5th for UFC’s debut in New York.

Payout Perspective:

Back when Sholler was with the WEC he pitched a story for a local Seattle outlet that I wrote for about an up and coming WEC fighter that was originally from Federal Way.  The fighter was Benson Henderson.  Through the years he has helped get access to Henderson and a couple others for the local Seattle outlet.  Overall, he’s been very fair and from what most say is an overall good guy.

Will there be punishment for Diaz, McGregor after UFC 202 press conference?

August 18, 2016

The water bottle flinging episode which ended the UFC 202 press conference on Wednesday provided some buzz for an event that lacks previous big fights.  But, will Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor be punished for their actions.

If you have not seen the press conference, McGregor showed up about 30 minutes late to the press conference.  Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Glover Texiera were present and on time.  Shortly after McGregor made his appearance, Diaz left with his team. Shouting and finger gestures were exchanged and that’s when the throwing of objects began.

According to the NAC 467.885(5), the Nevada Athletic Commission “may suspend or revoke the license of, otherwise discipline or take any combination of such actions against a licensee who has, in the judgment of the Commission:

  1. Conducted himself or herself at any time or place in a manner which is deemed by the Commission to reflect discredit to unarmed combat;

The UFC Code of Conduct states that the company can impose discipline for “Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety or well-being of another person.”  In addition “[c]onduct that undermines or puts at risk the organization or promotion of a UFC event, including without limitation, failure to deliver, engage in or otherwise execute any and all promotional responsibilities…” Also, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the UFC.”

You can say that McGregor and Diaz’s actions yesterday were violations of all of the above.  While it may have been an indirect way to promote the fight Saturday, it put at risk those that were nearby.

Short plug, I was on with Josh Nason of The Wrestling Observer and we talked about the press conference in depth as well as the UFC 202 card.

Payout Perspective:

I don’t expect the revocation of a license but a fine will likely occur.  What will be interesting the commission hearing which will likely happen as a result.  Obviously, there’s a part of MMA fandom that likes to see this intensity.  But, when does it become sideshow, not sport.  I understand that this is a part of the promotion but the throwing of objects can carry liability if a bystander were to be hit or injured.

Zuffa sends letter confirming sale to fighters

July 11, 2016

MMA Junkie reports that UFC contracted fighters have received a letter about the sale of the company.

The letter addressed to “Athletes” from “The Zuffa executive team” states that “the athletes, have always been the central focus of the promotion.  That will not change.”

The letter goes on to say that the new owners, WME | IMG would focus “on the continued global expansion of mixed martial arts and committed to further promoting you [the athlete] on the global stage.”

Payout Perspective:

The letter comes just a couple weeks after Zuffa sent an internal memo to its employees that the UFC had not been sold.  As we know, it was just semantics as Zuffa did not finalize the sale until this past weekend.  The likely plan was to make the announcement after Saturday’s UFC 200.  The letter is assurance that the new owners will take care of them in the future.  Of course, Zuffa does not know if that will be the case.

Cerrone apologizes for homophobic slur at UFC Fan Expo Q&A

July 10, 2016

Maybe International Fight Week should have ended yesterday for Donald Cerrone.  Instead, Cerrone apologized for a homophobic slur made during a Q&A at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas.

Cerrone criticized Daniel Cormier’s fighting style last night against Anderson Silva.

“How you gonna give up weight and then fight like a f*g, man?”

Cerrone took to Instagram and Twitter to issue his apology.  In it he is wearing the “We Are All Fighters” t-shirt.  Notably, the t-shirts were introduced this week by the UFC to support the LGBTQ Community.

It’s not clear if Cerrone’s comments will trigger a UFC Code of Conduct violation.

Payout Perspective:

A day after the UFC crowns its first openly gay champion in Amanda Nunes, Donald Cerrone makes this comment.  The problem may not be Cerrone being homophobic (that’s not the issue) but the society and culture most of us have grown up in that has allowed these types of slights to be acceptable and common.  Some of you may know the pickup game for football players where you give the guy a ball and everyone tackles him.  If you don’t pay attention to the meaning and intent of the words, you never understand the gravity of what the words actually mean.  The good news, is that Cerrone’s apology seems genuine.

But, Cerrone’s comments remind us that the UFC needs to continue the education of its contracted fighters.  It was just a couple years ago that Matt Mitrione made comments about Fallon Fox and Michael Bisping just made a similar comment at the UFC 199 post-fight press conference.

Ariel Helwani given lifetime ban by UFC

June 5, 2016

MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani was escorted out of UFC 199 prior to its conclusion according to multiple reports including the host of the MMA Hour.  In addition, Esther Lin and Casey Leydon of MMA Fighting were required to leave the event.

MMA Fighting has issued a statement:

MMA Fighting and SB Nation fully support Ariel, Casey, Esther and the entire MMA Fighting staff. And we appreciate the support we have received from the MMA Fighting audience and community.

The UFC has not been in contact with us since revoking the credentials of Ariel, Esther and Casey. But we will keep you, our audience, informed of the situation.

Ariel will address what occurred at UFC 199 on tomorrow’s MMA Hour. The show begins at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT

Essentially the statement amounts to an advertisement for the MMA Hour.

Helwani indicated that he was told that he was banned for life from the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

The move by the UFC amounts to a PR issue with dealing with the media.  Helwani has scooped the UFC of its breaking news of fight announcements on its FS1 show, UFC Tonight, since leaving the show.  The reason for his dismissal on Saturday night was the reporting of Brock Lesnar’s return prior to the UFC’s announcement.  Jumping on the news appeared to be the last straw for the UFC.

But the question is why Helwani was the scapegoat for the news leak.  Shouldn’t the UFC be irate over the sources that fed Helwani the news?  Likely, Helwani was the easiest target.  Moreover, he has become a popular media figure in MMA.  Perhaps a little too big.  Helwani still has the contacts within the industry to obtain stories and unless the UFC can control his contacts, then he will still be a major MMA media figure.

Frankly, whether you notice it or not, the control of the news by an organization is not uncommon.  The tenuous relationship between public relations and journalism was exemplified by this episode.  While we may believe the UFC doesn’t need the media, it actually does.  If you watched the PPV on Saturday, the UFC 200 promo for Jones-Cormier included interviews with 3 reporters (Kevin Iole, Case Keefer and John Morgan).  The inclusion reflects the fact the UFC needs the media to legitimize fights.

Will the UFC suffer for what it has done? Of course not.  If you look at bigger leagues and companies, the muting of news occurs all of the time.  Helwani was not the chosen person to break the Lesnar story and the UFC decided to make an example out of him.  It does appear that more bigger name, mainstream journalists are picking up on this issue.  Will the UFC do anything to address the matter or will they just let it air out?  The Stitch Duran situation was prickly but the UFC got through it fine. We shall see.

Next Page »