Yahoo Sports reported that former WEC Bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres, was released by the Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion for a joke about “rape vans.” The tweet was deleted while I was editing this post, so here’s the edited version.
If a windowless van was called a surprise van more people wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.
The Yahoo article concludes by stating that “UFC fighters have been sent a clear message to think before they tweet.” The message isn’t necessarily so clear.
As far as I’m concerned, the only “crime” in comedy is when it isn’t funny; all topics are fair game. In this case, the joke wasn’t funny taken out of context, but that’s not why I’m posting about this. The UFC is pushing its fighters to connect with their fans specifically through Twitter, creating cash incentives for, among other things, having the most followers and posting the most creative tweet. Everyone knows that people love controversy and sensationalism (i.e., the squeaky wheel gets the grease), and Torres was obviously trying to generate some buzz. Even if there’s a clear policy in place identifying allowable subject matter — I honestly don’t know if there is — Zuffa can’t reasonably cut Torres for doing what it asked of him. He edited the tweet to remove the word, “rape,” keeping it suggestive of that term. That is, we all knew what he was saying, but he made a point not to directly say it, presumably to minimize the offense he might cause. Ariel Helwani reported that Torres was actually referencing a joke from the Comedy Central show, Workaholics, but we all know now that it’s from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The point is that readers were taking this tweet out of context anyway. Also of interest is that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is an FX series. Get it? That’s the UFC’s new network.
We all knew that eventually this policy would cause public relations problems, and considering how bad things could have been, this is relatively mild. Hell, Greg Oden tweeted nude pictures of himself, yet he still has a job. (Doesn’t he? I don’t know. The labor dispute has me ignoring basketball for, most likely, the remainder of the decade.) I could list countless other examples, but I don’t want to break WordPress. If you’re thinking that perhaps Dana White is trying to make a preemptive strike, stopping the behavior before it reaches critical level, then 1) you’re giving the foul-mouthed White too much credit, and 2) it still represents an overreaction. Torres should be given a warning, or at worst, a suspension, but firing him for a minor first offense is overkill.
Could this be another example of the “sissification” of America? I doubt it. It would be shocking to me if the UFC would jump on that bandwagon. Of all the large organizations I can name, they seem to be the least concerned with political correctness, especially as far as professional sports organizations are concerned. The mere fact that they’re alone in encouraging tweeting by their fighters is strong evidence of that.
This also seems to be yet another hypocritical move by the UFC, holding lesser names to a higher standard than its superstars. Rashad Evans just referenced the Penn State scandal at the expense of his next opponent, Phil Davis, a PSU alumnus, and to date, I’ve heard of no punishment other than Dana White being quoted as saying something to the effect of ‘Gee, that wasn’t funny.’ Going back just a few months, Nate Marquardt was released for the same offense of which Chael Sonnen and Sean Sherk were accused (my first post | my follow-up post | my Vlog; start at 1:00 mark), yet only Nate was released, whereas White publicly berated the athletic commission for attacking his cash cows.
Send a tweet of your own to Dana White. Don’t be an internet tough guy; be civil. Tweet just the following: @DanaWhite @UFC #BringBackTorres
Update: Dana White’s explanation: http://o.aolcdn.com/videoplayer/AOL_PlayerLoader.swf
He says that Forrest used Twitter, which has only 140 characters. So did Miguel! He says that Forrest Griffin apologized. So, why isn’t Torres given the same chance to apologize? He then says Rashad was acting in the “heat of the moment.” Really? You don’t think Rashad had that line planned? White isn’t even trying at this point, but at least he’s honest. He said he doesn’t “give a shit” what we think.
@DanaWhite @UFC #BringBackTorres
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