The political landscape for fighters and commentary from said fighters in Mixed Martial Arts right now is volatile. Saying something stupid can gain you attention from promoters. It can also cost you your job if you happen to be one of the lucky few who has a solid gig in UFC.
It’s been a nasty couple of weeks public relations-wise for UFC and none of it is their fault. Technically, fighters in UFC are independent contractors. Realistically, any negative comment one of those independent contractors makes in public can cause problems for the company they are working with (UFC). Frank Mir, one of UFC’s biggest PPV attractions, found out the hard way last week when he was forced to say he was sorry for making comments (that we detailed here on MMA Memories) on Mark Madden’s Pittsburgh radio show. Mir said that he wanted to kill Brock Lesnar in the Octagon and be the first man to kill an opponent in the cage “due to Octagon-related injuries.”
Dana White, UFC President, was rightly and justifiably pissed off about what Mir said. White was busy in Australia for UFC 110 in Sydney at Acer Arena. The Australian MMA event was wildly successful and proved to be a huge success in nearby Melbourne, an area that has outlawed MMA. It’s an area that UFC would like to see legislate Mixed Martial Arts, as the potential for doing business there would be enormous. There are other markets where UFC has paid to hire lobbyists to help legislate the sport on their behalf, including New York state and Ontario province in Canada. These are major markets we are talking about here. UFC has spent time, money, and other resources to make this work.
Which is why what Frank Mir said was so stupid. A master of self-promoting and promoting fights, Mir should have known better than to make the comments that he did. It’s the kind of comment that will played back for years by MMA critics. It’s in audio format. It’s in words via transcription. And it’s all indefensible. Just like John McCain’s “human cockfighting” quote from the 1990s is still pushed in various newspaper articles about MMA in 2010, Mir’s statement to hype up a fight against Brock Lesnar is now ammunition in the hands of critics who want to prevent MMA legislation from happening in several key worldwide markets. It’s as if New York state assemblyman Bob Reilly was given the, pardon the pun, ultimate gift.
Yes, Mixed Martial Arts is a sport. It’s also a sport with ungodly amounts of testosterone levels that blow away any T/E ratio you’ve ever seen in your life. If the average human has a T/E ratio of 1:1, then that level is blown off its hinges in Mixed Martial Arts. In the most macho of all macho sports, testosterone is the fuel that breeds world champions and also breeds unbelievable stupidity. In a business that has macho heels like Phil Baroni and behemoths like Bob Sapp, it’s impossible to avoid some of the taboos that come with a sport so fueled by testosterone.
One of those taboos is homophobia.
There’s an element of truth to the claims that Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that a gay audience might like. Search Google for MMA and gay and you’ll see what kind of results you turn up with. It’s an uncomfortable truth for many in the MMA industry because for a lot of the fighters involved, homosexuality and the appeal of some fans for watching fighters because of that reason is an inconvenient truth that they want no part of. Some fighters of a particular religious faith want no part of discussing the gay taboo, but for a lot of the fighters the issue is one of macho-ness and questioning how tough a fighter is. It’s no different than say the NFL or other male-dominated pro-sports where you rarely see any mega-athletes come out of the closet for fear of how their peers might react.
For UFC mid-card fighter Marcus Davis, the issue of being portrayed in a negative light as gay proved to be too much.
Last year, there was a lot of online pre-fight hype for a fight between Marcus Davis and Dan Hardy. Hardy, ever the showman, encouraged his fans to tweak Davis. The end result was a fan creating a photoshop of Davis on a fictitious “Gay Times” magazine cover featuring the tagline “Warning! Red hot man on man action. GayTimes gets pounded by the Irish hand-grenade!” After Hardy’s online fans tweaked Davis, Davis and Hardy got into a war of words over the American’s street credibility in Ireland. Hardy called him a poseur and a phony. When the two fought, Hardy won the bout and it was a singling loss for Davis.
Which, unfortunately, has created a lingering bitterness about Hardy by Davis. Unfortunately, last week’s rebuke of Mir’s conduct by UFC President Dana White didn’t register with Davis.
When a fan on Twitter wrote Davis, Davis replied back regarding Dan Hardy, “I hope Hardy dies of aids.”
Screen captures of Davis’s tweet were immediately picked up on MMA message boards and web sites. Davis ended up deleting the tweet, but the damage had been done. You can delete a tweet, but you can’t delete screen captures of it all over the Internet. The AIDS comment was now immortalized forever in online history.
Sensing major blowback, Davis tried to do damage control. He failed miserably at it.
“Dark&Bad taste-thought it was fitting aftr he did the gay photos towards me which is worse IMO this was words those pics are up for life.
“Would it have been better if I said hit by a car?”
No, it wouldn’t have been better.
The stupidity of Davis’s remarks is that he just saw first-hand evidence of what could happen to you if you say something extremely careless or crude like Frank Mir did about Brock Lesnar. Frank Mir is a PPV box office draw that Marcus Davis would die to reach the status of. That’s why what Davis said was so stupid — it not only gives MMA critics and politicians more ammunition to paint MMA fighters with the stereotype of being Neanderthal meatheads, but it also undermines Davis’s job security in MMA. He’s a mid-carder who can get cut at any time. He’s expendable. He’s not Frank Mir, one of the top fighters in the world in his weight class.
Listen, nobody likes to be portrayed online negatively. Was the photoshop of Davis stupid and juvenile? Yes. Did it reveal a tinge of homophobia amongst online MMA fans? Yes. However, it was not something that should have mentally destroyed a guy like Marcus Davis to the point that he would say that he wished Dan Hardy would die from AIDS. That’s just a terribly unjustifiable statement to make.
Everyone is entitled to make mistakes in life. We are human. However, some mistakes are bigger than other ones and Marcus Davis is finding that out the hard way right now. Since making his AIDS remark, Davis hasn’t written anything on his Twitter account. The cruel irony of Davis’s remark about Hardy is that the AIDS comment will be seen by more people than the gay photoshop picture will ever be seen online. Davis said that the gay photoshop pictures will be online “for life.” Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Marcus that his words about Hardy will stay on search engines for life. Whenever someone searches for Marcus Davis on Google or Bing or Yahoo, the words “Dan Hardy” and “AIDS” will also show up for the rest of his human life.
That’s not a mistake that the Irish Hand Grenade will be able to ever blow up in the virtual world.