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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson competed on Saturday night's UFC on Fox 5 event against Nate Diaz while chewing on a toothpick all fight long. The toothpick was visible as the fight came to an end as he put it in the side of his mouth, but he had it there throughout the bout before finally pulling it out.
It's a mostly benign controversy, as it wasn't used during the fight itself, and is more of a danger to himself in a fight than an opponent. And indeed, it's not something that's going to bring him any issues from the Washington state athletic commission either.
"We will not be investigating," the commission said in a statement on Monday (via ESPN's Brett Okamoto on Twitter). "We do not have any rules that address a toothpick."
Though Washington doesn't have any rules regarding it, Henderson will likely be scrutinized more closely by commissions in the future given the habit has been brought to light.
Penick's Analysis: There's not much of a reason to be "outraged" over the toothpick thing from Henderson, but that doesn't make the response from the commission any less ridiculous. Saying there won't be an investigation because there's no specific rule is an asinine comment. There doesn't have to be a specific rule, the very nature of the act is against the general idea of the rules. There is equipment that is explicitly allowed for MMA; by virtue of having a list of approved equipment, it makes all other non-listed equipment against the rules. So they may not have anything specifically addressing a toothpick, but it's implied by the fact that it's not part of the permitted equipment that it's against the rules, and could be subject to investigation. I'm not saying a thorough investigation is needed, I'm not saying Ben Henderson should have a no contest listed for Saturday night, and I don't care whether or not he's reprimanded, so long as he doesn't continue the practice. But to shrug it off as "we don't have a rule addressing a toothpick" is far from productive, and makes the Washington commission seem like they're alright with anything not on the books being in the cage with a fighter.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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