Earlier this week, UFC Heavyweight Matt Mitrione became the virst to fall victim to the UFC’s newly minted code of conduct. While appearing on The MMA Hour, Mitrione let loose a verbal assault on transgender fighter Fallon Fox, calling her a “disgusting freak” amongst other things. The UFC reacted swiftly, informing the public and Mitrione that he would be suspended while they investigate the event. They’ve yet to follow up with the official extent of Matt’s punishment.
The UFC citing the Code Of Conduct in their release regarding Mitione sparked many to wonder about the nature of the code. On Wednesday, they released it to the public. It opens up with general expectation the promotion has for their contracted fighters:
Fighters shall conduct themselves in accordance with commonly accepted standards of decency, social convention, and morals, and fighters will not commit any act or become involved in any situation or occurrence or make any statement which will reflect negatively upon or bring disrepute, contempt, scandal, ridicule or disdain to the fighter or the UFC
Later in the document, more specific misconduct is detailed, such as: criminal activity, unlawful gun or weapon ownership, derogatory or offensive conduct, etc. But, it ends with the umbrella point, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the UFC.”
While the Code of Conduct leaves it’s definitions extremely vague and encompassing, UFC COO Ike Lawrence Epstein makes it clear that they’re not looking to persecute the fighters (via Yahoo!):
“We’re not a bunch of police officers and we’re not sitting around all day trying to figure out ways to catch guys. We’re trying to run a business and these things can get in the way of that. And look, there are two sides to that.
“Matt Mitrione, he’s got a career, sponsors, things to take care of. We want to do what is right for the company, but if there is an opportunity to educate, to help him move on from this in a way that makes sense, we want to do that. We’re not police officers here. We’re trying, hopefully, to push guys in the right direction and make sure they’re being respectful and not being disrespectful to any race, gender, etc.”
While many have brought up the similarly offensive statements of UFC commentator Joe Rogan and Vice President of Athlete Development Matt Hughes, it does not appear that they fall under the scrutiny of the Code of Conduct. The document repeatedly and exclusively refers to “fighters”. As pointed out by Bleacher Report, that is a very significant difference from the NFL, which is vastly more inclusive.
Regardless of the possible shortcomings in excluded personnel, the UFC definitely needed to do something to curb inappropriate behavior from fighters. Over the last two years, several incidents from recognizable names have resulted in controversy. Holding fighters like Miguel Torres, Forrest Griffin, and Rampage Jackson accountable for their actions is a step in the right direction.
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