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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The UFC on Fox 2 headlining fight between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis had some fire lit under it at the tail end of the event's first press conference in Chicago on Wednesday.
The two fighters began jawing back and forth after a fan question about one or the other getting a knockout in the fight. Evans said he'd be testing Davis' ability to take a punch, which prompted Davis to bring up Jon Jones' comments about Evans' chin, or lack thereof.
This led to the two of them verbally sparring for a few seconds before Evans dropped the following line:
"I guarantee you will be the first one to take a shot because I'm gonna put my hands on you worse than that guy did to those other kids at Penn State."
Yep, Evans went there.
Davis, a Penn State alum, came under fire himself for comments in support of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno after the scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing several young boys over a 15 year period. Now, on the day Sandusky was arrested again as two more accusers have come forward in the case, Evans equated him assaulting Davis in their fight on Fox with what Sandusky has (allegedly) done to ten known victims.
As the UFC moves to this new television deal with Fox, this is another in a line of ridiculously awful statements made by fighters in the organization recently, and it's unacceptable for the UFC to simply allow it and stand for it at this crucial moment for them.
In addition to Evans' comment, the past few weeks have seen unfunny rape jokes being made by both Forrest Griffin and Miguel Torres, and ever-prevalent homophobic slurs have been dropped in recent months as well.
Look, I'm someone who believes that anything and everything is open to ridicule from a comedic standpoint, provided that it's funny and in the right medium. The long-running Comedy Central program South Park is a prime example of a show that doesn't pull punches, and in fact their season finale this fall was filled with jokes about Penn State.
But there is a huge difference between a show known for its subversive comedy making jokes at the expense of the institution that allowed such things to transpire, and Evans making a comment like this equating Davis to the victims. It's not funny, for starters; it's extremely untimely with Sandusky being arrested again today, and it's just mean-spirited and unnecessary.
The banter between the two of them was great to begin with, and if they go after each other verbally for the next month and a half into the bout it will elevate what isn't necessarily a hugely marquee fight. However, Evans needs to understand why this particular comment was not ok, and the UFC can't just let this type of thing go as "crazy talk" between fighters. It escalated to a point where it crossed a line it didn't need to cross, and it makes Evans come off really poorly into this headlining slot on Fox. Is that really the type of thing the UFC wants taking up conversation into a network television event?
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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