Purposeful or accidental? The UFC’s complex history with racism
There’s obviously been a historic line of problematic line of issues with the UFC and racism. Just last week, UFC fighter Mike Perry had a serious altercation.
The 28-year-old fighter was captured on video striking an older gentleman and calling him several racial slurs. The incident occurred in Lubbock, Texas.
According to TMZ Sports, Perry was asked to leave the restaurant by employees. When they notified him that police would be called if he refused, Perry punched a man during an argument. He yelled “Back up, [N-word],” as people tried to restrain him.
The police report obtained by TMZ states that the man whom Perry assaulted was left “unconscious,” and was suffering from memory loss after hitting his head on the concrete.
The police report also states that Perry struck a woman at his table who was a friend of his girlfriend. The restaurant is considering pressing charges against Perry for leaving his table without paying his bill.
This is not the first time that Perry has been in hot water for using the N-word. In 2018, he used it to refer to fellow UFC fighter Tyron Woodley.
Back in January, Perry engaged in a Twitter war with former martial artist and actor Michael Jai White. Perry was reportedly unhappy after White mentioned that the late Kimbo Slice found his martial arts techniques “too much to grasp.”
I like Mike Perry, that's why I follow him! Maybe he “FEELS” I meant to diss Kimbo but he’s wrong. Slice was my friend RIP, and many extracted the positive, teachable moment I intended. https://t.co/e3omWbqFa3
— Michael Jai White (@MichaelJaiWhite) January 5, 2020
Perry challenged White to a bare-knuckle fight on Twitter. White declined, throwing some playful shade at Perry.
Maybe if MP learned my “Prison Movie Technique” he wouldn’t be ranked #20?😏I got no time for playground callouts Brother but holla when you come thru and maybe I’ll have time to give you a personal demo. Just DM me Bro. It really ain’t that hard! https://t.co/kxKdE5BTzO
— Michael Jai White (@MichaelJaiWhite) January 5, 2020
Perry responded by saying “Blood and bone more like b**** ass n****” on Twitter.
Mixed martial artist Angela Hill was not pleased with Perry’s response, stating the following:
“White people using ‘n****’ to insult a black person, I don’t give a f*** what your intentions were, it ain’t right. The few times I’ve run into Perry during fights he’s seemed cool, this isn’t cool.”
Perry’s words bring up a fundamental problem with the UFC. The company has been allowing a new line of fighters to freely use racial and insensitive terminology publicly.
Hopefully, mans is getting the mental health treatment he needs.
In a statement Thursday, UFC says it’s “troubled” by the actions of Mike Perry, who was involved in a physical altercation at a bar this week that was caught on video, in which he also yelled racial slurs. pic.twitter.com/RjsOlypwUL
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 10, 2020
Still, although Perry has been the most notable in recent news, other stars have used derogatory and insulting language in the past without punishment.
More UFC Racism…
Fan-favorite Conor McGregor insulted his former opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov by calling his wife a “towel” due to her hijab. This was a crude and insensitive comment towards Nurmagomedov and all others of the Muslim faith.
Nurmagomedov’s manager responded by calling McGregor a “rapist.” The UFC has an obligation to punish those who make publicly humiliating, racially insensitive, and insulting remarks. This includes the fighters and anyone associated with their team.
The list doesn’t end there, as UFC fighter Colby Covington called Brazilians “filthy animals” in a 2017 post-fight interview.
Like @POTUS @realDonaldTrump always says: Promises made. Promises kept. Pleasure to finally meet you Mr. President. Thank you for always putting America first! #maga #GreatAmericanWinningMachine 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/yYZWkdd5wS
— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) August 2, 2018
Covington is widely referred to as “one of the most hated people in the sport,” as he has a long track record of insensitive, racially charged, and crude comments. Former opponent Kamaru Usman said in December that “the people want me to destroy him.”
“For a guy like Colby, he’s a guy that feels entitled, and a guy who feels like he should have what I have — the championship belt. You don’t get it because you’re Caucasian, or from a certain descent. That’s not how this works. You have to earn it. If you really want it, you have to come through me.”
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 3, 2019
This behavior is unacceptable, especially considering that the UFC has a code of conduct. In the code, the following is stated:
“Derogatory or offensive conduct, including without limitation insulting language, symbols, or actions about a person’s ethnic background, heritage, color, race, national origin, age, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.”
Unfortunately, the company has not taken action to punish individuals or prevent this from happening in the future. As a prime-time, worldwide broadcasted sporting event, the company has the responsibility to discipline its affiliates for behaving in these manners.
— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) August 10, 2018
Action is necessary for change
When an organization is worth as much as the UFC is, attracts as many sponsors, viewers, and marketing campaigns as they do, an unquestionable responsibility exists to prevent this behavior from happening.
It seems that money is the reason, as McGregor, Perry, Covington, and Nurmagomedov are three of the most bankable and attention-drawing drawing stars in the sport. The company does not want to anger the fan base, or even worse, lose sponsorships and viewers.
This is the necessary step, however. In order to change the culture surrounding the UFC and all sports in general, strict action must be taken. Suspensions, fines, and the cancellation of future events are three of the actions that the UFC must take in disciplining its fighters.
Action is necessary for change. And Dana White seems to be on the pulse. In an interview with AZ Central, he spoke on the current situation America is facing and UFC athletes using their platform to speak out against racism.
“We’re at a time and a place where you can’t sit this out.”
If the UFC wants to hold itself as an inclusive and cultured organization, it must establish consequences for its affiliates.