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By: Brad Walker MMATorch Contributor
Is there such thing as the superstar treatment in the octagonal war grounds of the Ultimate Fighting Championship? Do you think some guys are given slaps on the wrist when they should be getting a boot out the door? Well, I do - kind of. Many fighters have managed to hold onto their jobs at UFC or Zuffa in general after questionable decisions, and others have lost their jobs doing things much less severe. I am going to provide evidence to both sides and let you, the readers and fans make the judgment.
Case #1: The Curious Case Of Chuck Liddell
For years "The Iceman" was the face of the UFC, the champion of champions and the man the crowd would go crazy for. In between fights, though, Chuck did some things and acted in ways that made us question who he really was, and what he was really about. It's not that he was dating Willa Ford for a while; it's not even that he endorsed John McCain; it's his slurred speech and erratic behavior that concerned me. Most memorably in 2007 he appeared on a Texas radio show but it was a case of the lights were on but no one was home - he even fell asleep during his interview. There were reasons given by his camp for his actions, but I don't know how much weight they would hold if he was fighting the following week. Ironically in his next fight just a couple of months later he looked sloppy and got picked apart by Rampage Jackson, and lost his Light Heavyweight Championship. In many ways this interview and the timeline surrounding it was the beginning of the fall of Chuck, he was never the same fighter again, except maybe against Wanderlei Silva.
Did he really just get dosed up on sedatives for a case of pneumonia? Or were there much fouler things at hand in this case - I don't know, and we all as fans and analysts may never know, but one thing is for sure, Liddell is a Hall Of Famer who set the standard for the art of the knockout. Only Chuck can tell anyone how things really went, but since Zuffa and Dana White didn't react, he's either innocent of any wrong doing or he's getting the superstar treatment.
Case #2: Tito Ortiz – Spousal Punishment?
Tito Ortiz is an icon in the sport of mixed martial arts, but in April of 2010 the tabloids were lighting up, as were the television news outlets with rumors that he had been arrested for felony spousal abuse. I can't imagine being married to a porn star is an easy thing to swallow, but c'mon this is Tito freakin Ortiz, the Huntington Beach Bad Boy, and former Light Heavyweight Champion! According to police reports Tito and his partner Jenna Jameson - who is probably the most famous porn star alive - got into an altercation, which resulted in Tito's arrest, and a violent exchange of words through publicists and third parties. Shortly afterward Jenna was photographed with an injured arm, but nonetheless both sides retracted their stories and went back to living as a happy family.
The case never went anywhere, so again only Tito and Jenna actually know what happened inside of their home and between them. Again, we see a former champion who is an icon in the sport do something very questionable and shady, but not see any reaction from the UFC - not even a slap on the wrist. I'm no investigative journalist, but I am a married man and I know that fights do happen, and it's up to each of us as an adult and a husband to control ourselves when these arguments do take place. I'm sure most guys have a moment or two when they want to break out some ridiculous wrestling maneuver on their angry wife, but it makes you a man when you are able to move past that feeling and resolve things in a manor appropriate as a spouse and adult. Tito may or may not have had a lapse in judgment, or a moment void of restraint, but in the end he made things work out with his family. Did he get the superstar treatment? Perhaps, after all he was publicly arrested for felony domestic violence; however, no court judgment was ever made.
Case #3: Nick Diaz and his weed
Following UFC 143 and his bout against Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites, and I don't know if very many people were surprised. Diaz has been very open about his love of Mary Jane in the past, in fact there is even a twitter account dedicated to the thoughts and feelings of his reefer (Which I suggest following because it's hilarious - @NickDiazsWeed). It's not the first time Diaz has dropped positive, but I would not be surprised if it was the last, because Dana White doesn't have a high tolerance for "bulls—t." Even if Diaz had won the fight against Carlos he'd now be stripped of the title and left to look like a fool, all for a couple puffs of weed, perhaps while listening to "Smoke on the Water," perhaps not. Yet, Diaz has been reassured employment security by the Fertittas and Dana White without them levying any company led punishment against him... why?
Well, Frank Hyden probably said it best in his last blog, there is no way to see marijuana as a performance enhancing drug; all it would do is make Diaz giggly and possibly lethargic inside of the Octagon. I'm not entirely sure why they even test for it since it can show up in a urine test up to four weeks after it is used. So theoretically Nick Diaz could have rolled and smoked a joint around New Years, and still dropped positive for it after the fight. Do I think it should be legal? Absolutely, the budget deficit would probably disappear after a couple years of customs and DEA not chasing down people with a joint in their pocket, and testing for it in sports is kind of pointless because it's certainly not going to make you any better. Diaz may or may not be subject to the superstar treatment - mostly because I also take into consideration that he no-showed the press events for his scheduled fight with GSP only to still wind up in the headline spot on UFC 137 against B.J. Penn - maybe he's a multi time earner of the superstar rub?
Case #4: The Penn State Scandals and Griffin, Torres and Evans
What took place with Jerry Sandusky and company at Penn State was as disgusting an accusation as has ever been levied against a top tier college football program. However, for some reason, Forrest Griffin found it funny enough to tweet jokes about rape shortly after reports surfaced. "Rape is the new missionary" was his tweet - supposedly in response to multiple stories of rape on the news - and the fans got angry. Rashad Evans used it for fuel in his exchange of words with Phil Davis saying "...I'm going to put my hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State." Again, fans were enraged, and media outlets started calling shenanigans against the UFC fighters for their jokes and ill-timed mentions of the scandal at hand. Dana White publicly spoke out about his feelings on what these two fighters had to say, but did not punish them internally as far as I know.
Then, Miguel Torres, who has not held a belt in the UFC or become a household name. tweeted a quote from a comedy show on television, saying "If a rape van were called a surprise van, more women wouldn't mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises." Shortly thereafter he was released from the UFC, tweeted half to death by fans and all but shredded up by Dana White. Sure, in the end Torres got his job back, but I ask you this - why did Dana White wait until Torres said something to act? Shouldn't he have flushed Forrest right away? After all Miguel was quoting a scripted television show, and Forrest was presumably speaking his mind to what he thought was funny, while Rashad was using it as a means of description. Why did Miguel Torres get to be the third strike? The Superstar status of Forrest and Rashad is undeniable but is that just reason to make Torres the fall guy? I've met Miguel and know first-hand that he's an extremely polite and approachable guy, but c'mon, he didn't even come up with the tweet he was simply quoting a comedic television show.
Case #5: Yves Edwards and Whitney Houston
This final one I haven't seen reported anywhere, mentioned by anyone, or even fired at on twitter by fans. Two days ago on his twitter feed he re-tweeted a picture of Charlie Sheen scrutinizing Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, saying "Silly Bitches - Only I Can Do That Much Cocaine!" He also followed it up by stating that he had a good laugh; now, how is this more appropriate than the Penn State jokes? In the wake of a tragedy, or in this case two deaths, someone makes an off color joke in the public eye and is not even reprimanded. Technically just a day ago Edwards also re-tweeted a rape joke originally posted by a men's humor twitter handle. So, did Dana White get over his fear of rape jokes, and fighters posting awfully off-color things on twitter, or since Edwards is slated to face Donald Cerrone is he getting off clean?
Personally being someone who spent over a decade working in the music industry, I find the Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston bashing rude, unnecessary and childish. In no way am I a huge fan of either artist, but since when did it become okay for a public figure to not only presume the cause of someone's death but to smear their name? Where is Dana White on this front? If it was Miguel Torres or a name lower on the rung like Court McGee would we be seeing someone get fired? You tell me, read all the evidence in these cases and let me know what you all think!
You can follow me on twitter @BradMMATorch and let me know what you think, or tell me what you would like to see me write about in the future. Thanks for reading.
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