Minority pressure groups are once again targeting the UFC.
The organisation was recently forced to apologise to major sponsor Anheuser-Busch, producer of the Bud Light brand, after the brewer was contacted by ‘advocacy groups’ who alleged that the fight promoter was variously encouraging misogyny and homophobia.
According to the complaint, several UFC fighters and officials have been guilty of utterances which have been offensive to one of more of these groups. Earlier this year an organisation called the ‘National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence’ wrote to the New York state assembly to claim that the UFC “contributes to a culture of violence against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
While failing to cite a single instance of UFC-inspired violence against any member of any of those groups, the letter did bring up a video recording of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson tricking a Japanese fan into saying “I'm a fag” - a lamentable piece of puerile comedy, and yet irrelevant as Jackson was signed to Pride FC at the time and was nothing to do with the UFC.
More recent incidents cited included commentator Joe Rogan referring to a female blogger as “cu-ty” - the inference being that this crude word for a part of the female anatomy somehow incites violence against women - and Rashad Evans’ satirical January press conference comment to former Penn State athlete Phil Davis (“I'm going to put these hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State.”)
Nonetheless, there are a number of UFC fighters who have the habit of using the word ‘faggot’ as an insult and as that is a genuine instance of legitimately offensive language, it is something that the UFC wants to stamp out - as does Anheuser-Busch.
“We've communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act,” an Anheuser-Busch spokesman said, although the nature of the possible action was not specified.
In a statement to advertising industry journal Ad Age, the UFC said “With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don't condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values.”
It also noted that UFC athletes are specifically encouraged to use social media to communicate with fans.
“It is part of our company culture, and whenever you are at the forefront of a trend or initiative, it comes with its own pitfalls. We will continue to embrace social media while looking for better ways to stay in front of the issues. This includes a mandate for our athletes to attend sensitivity training and a seminar on proper use of social media.”