In the UFC's latest promotional video blog for this weekend's UFC 127 card, Michael Bisping uses a homophobic slur to insult his opponent, Jorge Rivera. This is the latest example of an ongoing problem of people involved with the UFC using completely unacceptable language. It needs to stop.
To be more specific, the UFC needs to stop it: The biggest and best mixed martial arts organization in the world needs to tell its fighters, staff and other employees that in 2011, homophobic slurs aren't acceptable, and that those who can't or won't refrain from using such language are going to face serious consequences. And the UFC certainly shouldn't feature the use of homophobic slurs in promotional materials like this video blog on the UFC's own YouTube channel.
This should have always gone without saying, but it should absolutely go without saying after UFC President Dana White was roundly criticized, and later apologized, for his own use of homophobic slurs in a UFC video blog.
Even after that apology, however, we still hear those in and around the UFC using homophobic slurs. Rampage Jackson unleashed a barrage of homophobic slurs that were widely reported in 2010. Some UFC fighters use slurs routinely on Facebook and Twitter. UFC announcer Joe Rogan has used homophobic slurs. And at a press conference last year Bisping himself used the same homophobic slur that he uses against Rivera in the above video. He was admonished by White, but everyone just kind of laughed it off like it wasn't a big deal.
I've heard all the explanations and excuses and the reasons for why people who use homophobic slurs say the word doesn't really mean anything bad about gay people. Nonsense. These slurs aren't acceptable, and they need to stop.
When Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter used a homophobic slur toward an opponent in 2006, the NFL fined him $10,000. Why doesn't the UFC similarly crack down on its athletes who cross the line?
Just because this is a sport where two men fight each other in a cage doesn't mean they can't act like gentlemen outside the cage. Contrast Bisping with Ross Pearson and Spencer Fisher in the same video above: Pearson and Fisher smile, hug, and talk to each other politely and respectfully about their upcoming fight. They're still going to try to knock each other's blocks off once the cage door closes, but they realize that promoting a fight doesn't have to involve personal animosity, and it certainly doesn't have to involve slurs of any kind.
Oddly, at this week's pre-fight press conference, it was Bisping who talked about the importance of acting like a professional, saying that Rivera's trash talk leading up to the fight had crossed the line.
"I'm fighting in the premier fighting organization in the world and I'm trying to behave accordingly," Bisping said. "I'm a professional fighter. I'm not an idiot in the schoolyard."
Bisping should take his own advice about acting like a professional. And the UFC should make sure that advice gets through to everyone in the promotion.