When the last Olympic games rolled around, I felt like I couldn’t watch them in good conscience. I mean, when the host country is actively encouraging street gangs of homophobic thugs to go out and attack people because of their sexual orientation they probably shouldn’t be hosting friendly international competitions. Neither should anyone be patronizing their events, I think.
In a similar way, I need to not watch this weekend’s UFC event.The fight card is headlined by a guy named Matt Brown, a fighter that I used to genuinely root for back when he was a member of The Ultimate Fighter Season 7, where he was fighting (and winning) a division up from his natural weight class. He was a scrapper and a brawler, never looking like championship material but always up for a good fight.
A little while ago, however, he tried to do an “edgy” podcast and said this:
I just think this, if I’m [going] to pay $60 for a [UFC] Pay-Per-View to watch women fight, they should at least be topless.
It was part of a larger rant where he put down the entire concept of women’s MMA (something that his employer, the UFC, actively promotes).
I’d be willing to ignore his comments if he had made some kind of attempt to fix the damage from what he said, perhaps acknowledging that it isn’t the 19th century and that only a Paleolithic moron would still delineate between “male” jobs and “female” jobs, but of course he didn’t do that. Instead, the UFC issued an apology on his behalf:
Matt Brown has apologized for the comments made on his podcast, and we have addressed the matter with him. His comments don’t reflect the views of the UFC. There’s no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. The UFC is built on principles of respect, and any statements to the contrary are not acceptable.
And admittedly, the UFC has come down pretty hard on any fighter that has demonstrated sexist, racist, or homophobic attitudes in social media, even going so far as cutting a fighter on the day of his fight because of a recently uncovered history of domestic abuse. Their track record isn’t perfect (and they have certainly been more lenient with their bigger stars), but compared to organizations like the NFL or NBA, the UFC looks pretty damn progressive.
What was Brown’s response to this?
I have spoken with the UFC about the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and what is required and expected of me as a professional athlete under the terms of my promotion agreement. The UFC has a policy of inclusion and respect for all people and I understand the importance of being more aware of my actions and words.
That, right there, is the definition of a non-apology. That is the equivalent of saying, “I was just told what I did made my boss mad so I won’t do that anymore.” No concern for fellow employees in the UFC he just demeaned. No remorse for blatant misogyny. No attempt to take personal responsibility for effects of his comments. Nothing.
Just a reference to his contract.
I really enjoy watching the UFC. I trained in and taught MMA for years (alongside many talented, hard-working women), and I have followed it as a professional sport since the late 90s. I watch every free event, and despite not having the disposable income to justify buying many PPVs in recent years, I still closely follow the major events in all the top organizations.
But I can’t legitimately watch an event headlined by a guy that not only talks like that but doesn’t seem to know (or care) about the effect. I know that it doesn’t make so much as a dent in the UFC’s profit margin. I know it won’t stop Matt Brown from headlining another show. I know it makes effectively no difference what I do in regards to this event or its success.
I guess I choose not to watch for my own sake.