The UFC's marquee sponsor is not happy with the actions of some their athletes, and they spoke up about it in Advertising Age. Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of the Bud Light brands that are featured prominently in the Octagon, talked about their displeasure.
"We've communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act," the brewer said in a statement. A-B, which did not elaborate on potential actions, also stated that it "embraces diversity and does not condone insensitive and derogatory comments rooted in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc."
The UFC responded to Ad Age:
"Unlike most other sports leagues, we encourage our athletes to engage online. It is part of our company culture, and whenever you are at the forefront of a trend or initiative, it comes with its own pitfalls. We will continue to embrace social media while looking for better ways to stay in front of the issues. This includes a mandate for our athletes to attend sensitivity training and a seminar on proper use of social media."
The problem is not that the UFC has athletes who say and do stupid things. Every organization -- from a small family-run business to the largest multi-national conglomerates -- has people who do and say stupid things. The problem is with how the UFC has (or hasn't) dealt with the issues.
There is little consistency with how the UFC has dealt with the dumb things said by their athletes. Some, like Miguel Torres, were cut. Some, like Rashad Evans, were rebuked privately. Some, like Quinton Jackson, were ignored.
A comprehensive code of conduct for athletes, including clear examples of crossing the line and fair punishments for such actions, would not just be the fair thing for UFC fighters, but would also prevent them from getting a public rebuke from their biggest sponsor. It's just good business.