The UFC has released their official written Code of Conduct in light of Matt Mitrione's suspension this week, spelling out exactly what they expect each of their fighters to adhere to. However, don't expect any truly significant punishment to Mitrione. As UFC COO Lawrence Epstein stated in an interview with Yahoo! Sports, the goal of the UFC's code of conduct isn't to punish, but to educate fighters when incidents like this happen.
"We're not a bunch of police officers and we're not sitting around all day trying to figure out ways to catch guys," Epstein said. "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."
UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta chimed in on Mitrione's statements towards Fallon Fox, specifically, and though he was a bit muted in his criticism, he made it clear that the things said warranted evaluation from the UFC.
"Whatever your thoughts are on the whole transgender issue, I've listened to [Mitrione's comments on 'MMA Hour'] and in my opinion, it came off as a bit mean-spirited, and is something I think warranted review," Fertitta said. "Obviously, this is not the easiest issue and a lot of people are questioning both sides of this thing. A fair debate and discussion of the issue should be allowed."
"But when you call her disgusting, and Buffalo Bill, that's another matter. It warrants review. I think it's the same thing the NFL would look at and the same thing that any professional organization that is at the level we're at would at least take a look at."
Penick's Analysis: That's the right reaction from the UFC, and the way Fertitta spelled it out is clear. This isn't an easy issue, and a fair debate and discussion absolutely should be allowed. However, what can't be tolerated is hateful rhetoric that takes away from that discussion. That's what was expressed by Mitrione, and that's where any points he might have had to make get lost entirely. This is a "first offense" for Mitrione, and as such means there isn't going to be much in the way to harm his career, but at the very least maybe they'll get him to learn something from this incident.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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