Dana White had to make a tough decision on Thursday.
Miguel Torres, one of the guys who helped build the business for the WEC and lower weight divisions, was fired by the UFC.
Early Wednesday morning, Torres tweeted what appeared to be a rape joke (that may or may not be a line from the television shows "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" or "Workaholics"). By Thursday night, the former 135-pound champ was without his job.
What makes the situation dicey is that it wasn't the only "rape joke" made by a fighter on Wednesday.
During the UFC on Fox 2 press conference in Chicago, White watched Rashad Evans drop a line about the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State child-rape tragedy.
On the heels of a rape joke from Forrest Griffin in November, it put White in a position where he had to do something.
The UFC president told MMAFighting's Ariel Helwani that questionable speech by fighters will be handled individually. He accepted the explanations from Griffin and Evans, but not Torres.
White spoke with SI.com where he first revealed the disciplinary action for Torres.
[...] He said he hadn't heard what happened to Forrest. Really? Where do you live? What business are you in? How do you not hear about these things? You should have paid more attention. It's to the point now where, there's going be times when things happen and mistakes are made. I cannot defend Miguel Torres. I cannot defend what he said. What he said makes no sense other than when he says, "It was a joke." Well, I don't think that's a funny joke. I think it's disturbing. [...]
It's being announced right now to you. You're the only one that knows. Miguel Torres has been cut from the UFC and his career with us now is over.
White said it was different when Griffin got in hot water.
"When Forrest tweeted something like that, his explanation was dead on, and it made absolute sense," said White (8:45 mark).
Before the Torres decision had come down, White explained his take on Evans' joke.
"We're dealing with intelligent people here. It's one thing if you're in a sport that's full of stupid people. Guys that are really dumb. You can't fix stupid," White said. "We're dealing with educated guys here, guys who went to college … handle their own businesses. Guys are going to say stupid stuff and depending on what you say, and how you say it, that's how I'm going to handle this."
Due to microphone issues during the Chicago presser, White didn't really hear the Evans' line clearly.
"Rashad made a mistake yesterday and I talked to Rashad about it after. Rashad was like 'I don't know why I said it. It came out of my mouth and it shouldn't have.' I deal with these guys like normal human beings," White said (7:50 mark)."
White said he was annoyed by some media members and fans, who he thought were coming down hard on Evans and Griffin.
"I hate this holier than thou attitude with people. It makes me sick. Yes, guys are going to make mistakes. They're going to say stupid stuff and depending on what you say and how you say it. People will be punished for things that they say," said White.
The UFC boss said the last thing he wants is a sanitized crew of fighters. He doesn't believe people want to see him become vanilla either.
"Listen if you want me to come out and read a statement from our lawyer [during press conferences]," White said. "[...] I'd be more than happy to come out on camera [and do that]."
Welcome to the world of David Stern, Roger Goodell and Bud Selig. The major-league commissioners from the NBA, NFL and MLB have to make judgment calls on insensitive speech all the time.
In 2011, Stern had to deal with on-court homophobic slurs from Kobe Bryant and several other players. As a face of the league, Bryant received a $100,000 fine while the others got a slap on the wrist or no penalty. Stern had his reasons, but chose to barely explain them. Give White credit, at least he made an attempt to explain his rationale.
With a bigger spotlight for the UFC and its fighters comes more scrutiny and attention on the athletes. Hopefully in the future, the fighters get the message that referencing rape in any sort of joking or sarcastic manner is simply off limits.
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