Jeff Molina’s gesture of love and support was met with a vile response from a segment of the MMA fan base on social media.
The rising flyweight contender had an eventful UFC Vegas 56 fight week capped off by a split decision win over Zhalgas Zhumagulov on Saturday. In the lead-up to the bout, Molina found himself addressing a slew of comments related to his decision to wear the UFC’s special uniform in recognition of Pride Month, a cause the promotion is spearheading in June to help raise money and awareness for the LGBTQIA+ Center of Southern Nevada.
Molina said after the fight that he was bothered by fans critical of his choice and that he “thought people would be a little more open-minded.”
On The MMA Hour on Monday, Molina revealed some of the comments he received that crossed the line from criticism into sheer hatred.
“It was strange because I thought it was something so nonchalant, simple, minuscule,” Molina said. “Like, dude, check out my shorts, there’s rainbow coloring on it, it’s just cool that the UFC is doing this for Pride Month. Then I didn’t look at my phone for a couple of hours — I try not to be on my phone too much for fight week — I look at my phone and the comments are split. Actually, not really, the comments were pretty much all pretty hateful.
“There were a couple of narratives in the comments like, ‘The UFC is just doing this to exploit, it’s a business tactic, they’re doing this for money, they don’t really care. Blah blah blah.’ The other parts were, ‘Man, you support gay people, you’re gonna burn in Hell. Allah will make sure you burn in hell or God will make sure you burn in hell.’ I’m telling you there were dozens and dozens of these, like, ‘You should get cut from the UFC for supporting f******.’ There was a lot of those.
“I looked over to the DMs, my DMs on Twitter were about split with the love and hate. From the love side it was a lot of guys like, ‘Hey man, I didn’t know you rolled that way. I think you’re cute.’ And then on the other side it was more of the same hateful, spiteful things, and I felt like I just had to address it.”
Molina joked that he was flattered by the former, though he himself is straight. He felt the reaction vindicated him after an amusing interaction with UFC commentator Daniel Cormier at Molina’s first appearance for the promotion in April of last year.
“DC at my debut weigh-ins said I’m not the most attractive flyweight in the UFC,” Molina said. “He’s like, ‘I don’t see it at all. I don’t think he’s that attractive.’ He said that verbatim. So to get some love from men all over the world saying I’m a handsome guy, I’ll take it.”
Molina added that even after the news of him wearing the Pride Month shorts caused a commotion, there was no thought to going back on his decision.
“Absolutely not,” Molina said. “If anything, I wanted to get a bigger vinyl after that. That thought didn’t even cross my mind.”
In some ways, Molina is more confused by the praise than the hatred that he’s received. He’s shrugged off the negativity, finding it more shocking than hurtful. But when it comes to the compliments, he’s at a loss how to react to them because he doesn’t believe he’s done anything special.
“What’s weird is I feel like I’m being appreciated for something I shouldn’t be appreciated for, if that makes sense,” Molina said. “And I’m not trying to backtrack on anything I said, I spoke 100 percent from the heart. I meant exactly what I said. But it’s like being applauded for saying, ‘Murder is wrong.’ This should just be common: Rape is wrong. Racism is wrong. Being hateful towards someone for who they love is wrong. And who the f*** cares at the end of the day? That’s the only thing that makes me feel weird about this whole situation.
“I know I have a platform as a fighter, fighting for the UFC, for the biggest organization in the world. But at the same time I feel weird being appreciated for something that should just be f****** common decency. Just being a human being.”