When the UFC revealed early this year that they were implementing a written code of conduct for all fighters in the organization, it was met with fairly little reaction, with people waiting to see how they would actually handle things in the wake of an issue. Well, with the comments from Matt Mitrione on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, they’ve had cause to respond.
Mitrione unleashed a torrent of tersely worded sentiments toward transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox and the controversy surrounding her license to fight. However, instead of a debate about the merits or science behind whether or not to allow her to fight, Mitrione’s comments were vile, mean-spirited, and simply ugly, and it’s gotten him in trouble with the UFC.
In a statement released to Brent Brookhouse at BloodyElbow.com, UFC officials expressed their complete disagreement with Mitrione’s statements, and revealed that his contract has been suspended as a result.
“The UFC was appalled by the transphobic comments made by heavyweight Matt Mitrione today in an interview on ‘the MMA Hour,'” the statement read. “The organization finds Mr Mitrione’s comments offensive and wholly unacceptable and – as a direct result of this significant breach of the UFC’s code of conduct – Mr Mitrione’s UFC contract has been suspended and the incident is being investigated.”
“The UFC is a friend and ally of the LGBT community, and expects and requires all 450 of its athletes to treat others with dignity and respect.”
Taking into account the statement made by UFC counsel Lawrence Epstein upon the written implementation of this code of conduct, Mitrione’s comments very much fall in line with what the UFC wanted to crack down on.
“For example, if you make a discriminatory comment about a certain community, you would be required to provide some community service to that community,” Epstein explained in an interview in January with BleacherReport.com. “In our view that’s going to turn into a benefit. It’s easy to criticize people you don’t know, but once you get to know somebody, once you get to experience what they’re all about it sort of changes you as a person in a way that money or fines could never do.”
Penick’s Analysis: While the statement didn’t go into detail about what Mitrione’s suspension will entail, it’s still significant in that it’s the first time the UFC’s officially made a statement about something like this from a fighter. And Mitrione’s lucky a suspension is all that’s happening at the moment, because he may not ultimately be out that much longer than he would have been between fights anyway. But his comments warranted a response from the UFC, because they’ve gotten attacked from the outside because of fighter comments in the past, and this was as egregious as the Miguel Torres rape-tweet issue, and much more hate-filled.
By: Jamie Penick