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Fightweets: Why UFC made right call not punishing Josh Thomson for comments

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Last I checked, we still have freedom of opinion in this country.

For example, my opinion is that Josh Thomson's take on marriage equality is pretty ridiculous.

The "gateway" argument, which holds that allowing consenting adults of the same gender to marry will lead to all sorts of absurd societal consequences, has been so thoroughly disproven that it barely merits a reply.

But there's a considerable difference between Thomson's comments, which kicked up a storm Wednesday, and others that have landed mixed martial artists in hot water. Which is why UFC president Dana White was correct on Thursday in telling's Ariel Helwani that he's not going to fine or suspend Thomson for his remarks.

Nate Diaz was suspended for using a homophobic slur over Twitter. It's been pretty well established in the corporate environment of 2013 that slurs toward any group are unacceptable. Matt Mitrione was suspended for a hateful diatribe aimed at a specific person, Fallon Fox. Mitrione was acting as a bully and deserved what he got.

The difference between Thomson's views and those of Diaz and Mitrione is that Thomson's appear to be grounded in pure ignorance, not hate. He wasn't using slurs and he wasn't picking on a specific person. He was simply issuing a really dumb opinion. One to which he's entitled.

Bill Maher put it best last year when he asked "When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don't like?" Punishing hate speech is one thing. Taking things another step and punishing people for merely expressing an opinion with which you disagree is a road that I, for one, don't want to go down.

White characterized Thomson's comments as "rambling, stupid s---" and "probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard." Plenty of people who didn't have a negative opinion of Josh Thomson before this week now consider him a certifiable moron. He's been judged in the court of public opinion. That's punishment enough.

On to the latest edition of Fightweets, which was spiced up Thursday with the announcement of a string of big fall fights: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson in September; Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez in October; and Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks in November.

Big fall fights

@CaliScruff: Possible Jones-Silva superfight New Year's weekend if they both win??

Gold star to CaliScruff for zeroing in on the million-dollar question. Boy, does the result of Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman on July 6 now loom huge. If Silva wins in July and Jon Jones in September, then that sure seems to pave the way for Silva vs. Jones. If not on New Year's weekend (since White seemed so determined to get a superfight in for 2013), then for Super Bowl weekend, the night before their broadcast partner, FOX, airs the Super Bowl from the New York area. And hey, if anything happens that would prevent Jones from competing again by that time, then the door would still be open for Silva vs. GSP, assuming St-Pierre gets by Johny Hendricks, which is no gimme.

The planets are as close to aligned as they've ever been. If Weidman wins at UFC 162, that all goes out the window.

@Christopher_kit: How does the rubber match between Valasquez & JDS compare to all others in the past?

I'm not convinced this will be the rubber match, actually. Unlike, say, Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski, where no one ever wanted to see the two fight each other ever again afterwards (but we were still subjected to it anyway), or Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture, when it was obvious enough at the end who was the winner and who came up short that Couture retired following the third bout (for awhile, at least), Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos is different. These are two guys in their primes who are heads and tails above everyone else in the division. Their skills match up in such a way that if the trilogy fight is well-contested, I wouldn't rule out a fourth fight down the road. And if we ended a fourth fight tied at two, a fifth one might be needed.

@EdgeLife4ME: Is there an injury to either [St-Pierre or Johny Hendricks] I'm not aware of?? Why wait till November??

GSP asked for some time off after the Diaz fight. He had his big return fight against Carlos Condit, which was a five-round war; and he had his match with Nick Diaz, where he had to put up with all Diaz's antics while also dealing with a lingering illness heading up to the fight. St-Pierre earned the right to take a break if that's what he wanted.

Hometown fights

@Tjohn224: How much does the crowd matter? It amazing the success the Brazilian fighters have had on cards in Brazil.

Having the crowd behind you helps, but I'm not sure the success of Brazilian fighters is about the crowd so much as it is the difficulties of fighting halfway around the world as opposed to on your home turf. Back in the day, when American fighters lost in Japan, it was held up as proof Japanese fighters were superior. Then Japanese fighters started producing decidedly mixed results when they started competing on American events. Now Brazilian fighters are starting to shine against foreigners on Brazilian soil.

Home court's obviously no be-all, end-all, especially when you consider guys like Dan Henderson held PRIDE titles, Silva and dos Santos won titles in the U.S., etc. But it just as clearly goes without saying that fighting in your backyard is less stressful than the hassles inherent in fighting halfway thousands of miles away from home.


@heitorcbra: Do you see Metamoris becoming a minor league for the UFC?

I don't think Metamoris has any ambitions at being anything beyond the leading presenter of sport jiu-jitsu in North America. Most of their competitors, even if they've dabbled in MMA, are mainly interested in being the best in the world at jiu-jitsu, and that's a fine goal to chase. There will always be some crossover in both directions, but they're two distinct products.

Next in line for Thiago Silva?

@Pancho_D_Apache: What's next for Thiago Silva? I say Glover Teixeira.

What's next is hoping Silva passes his drug test. Yeah, that sounds flippant, but when your past two wins have been overturned, it's fair game. Assuming Silva tests clean, Glover's earned himself a name on the short list of the big boys in the division. Silva needs to win another fight or two -- and test clean afterwards -- and prove he's something more than a gatekeeper at this stage of his career before getting a Glover-like foe.

Ye Olde Strikeforce vs. UFC

@BreadandWater94: Does Luke Rockhold's loss to Vitor show the difference in talent between ufc and other competition? Or was it fluke?

Eh, you're being a bit selective here. You've also got to include Thomson finishing Nate Diaz; Daniel Cormier winning 30-27 across the board against Frank Mir, Gilbert Melendez coming a whisker from lifting Benson Henderson's belt and a plethora of lower-card bouts I don't feel like taking the time to list right now.

I think events in the Octagon over the past several months have confirmed what most people suspected: That even though Strikeforce's roster didn't have the depth to match the UFC, the guys at the top were every bit as good as the best of their counterparts in the UFC. Let's just be glad we got a chance to see it play out, rather than be condemned to a bunch of "what ifs."

Rampage's real talk

@dpop2: Is Rampage delusional in thinking that because he's in Bellator now, fighters are just gonna stand there and let him KO them?

Actually, Quinton Rampage Jackson's take on where he stands in the scheme of things during last week's press conference in Santa Monica was one of the least delusional things he's ever said. Jackson basically said that he knows he's coming off three straight losses and that he knows he's going to win some fights and lose some fights (as an aside, possibly the most entertaining moment of a very entertaining press conference was being in the room and watching Bjorn Rebney and Kevin Kay maintain their poker faces while Rampage was saying this. That or Kay doing the same while Rampage repeatedly called TNA's wrestling stars "old"). That might not lend confidence to the idea that Rampage is motivated to come out and have one last, huge run as an MMA fighter. But I'm willing to give him points for being real, rather than give us the same "I'm going to be the best (insert fighter name here) you've ever seen" speech we get from just about everyone else.

Trains of thought

@AcidicIactor: If a train leaves Pittsburgh at 400 miles per hour, what would you think of Hunt v Nogueira?

The train leaving Pittsburgh at 400 MPH was the Boston Bruins. Then they collided with a train going 401 MPH in Chicago on Wednesday. But they'll be back. Go Bruins.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Got to my Twitter page and drop me a question.

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