The UFC implemented a Conduct Policy for fighters today and appointed UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes as the UFC’s Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations. Hughes has officially retired as a pro fighter.
Lawrence Epstein, UFC COO, commented:
“Hughes will be an invaluable resource for UFC athletes. Leveraging the background and expertise he gained over a Hall of Fame career, Hughes will be dedicated to providing guidance on a wide range of issues athletes face inside and outside of the Octagon. This includes understanding the heightened social responsibility that comes with being in the public eye, to best practices when dealing with endorsements or managing finances, to the basic daily challenges of staying healthy during training, as well as the need to steer clear of illegal and/or performance-enhancing drugs. In addition to his work with UFC athletes, Hughes will engage with state athletic commissions and international federations to provide regulatory insight from the perspective of a professional athlete.”
Matt Hughes spoke about his new job:
“This is something that the UFC is implementing because they really care about their athletes. I’ve experienced ups and downs in my career and found that the UFC has supported me every step of the way. I understand the pressures and responsibilities that go along with being a professional athlete. I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to provide insight and perspective on behalf of athletes and the organization.”
UFC President Dana White weighed in:
“Matt is one of those guys that was there from the early days and helped grow MMA to the modern, professional sport it is today. He has been in the sport since the late 1990s and really seen it all. Matt is a two-time world champion in the UFC, he’s coached The Ultimate Fighter reality series twice, has fought all over the world and has been in every situation a fighter can be in. Matt’s expertise makes him highly qualified for this.”
This is interesting timing for two reasons.
Just yesterday UFC President Dana White was quoted in an interview with SI.com about the cushy job that was given to Chuck Liddell with the UFC after his retirement.
Here’s the second reason. This morning ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) received the following press release demanding Rampage be removed from Saturday’s UFC on FOX fight card:
Chicago Women’s Groups Demand UFC and Fox Drop Main Card Fighter Over “How to” Rape Video
Advocacy groups call on the UFC and FOX to pull fighter “Rampage” Jackson from
Saturday fight at the United Center and Enforce a Meaningful Code of Conduct that Respects Women
Chicago, IL—Today, Chicago women, local groups and national organizations sent a letter to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC),FOX executives, and UFC sponsors demanding the cage fighting franchise and television network immediately drop UFC light heavyweight Quinton ”Rampage” Jackson from the Saturday January 26, 2013 UFC on FOX fight for repeatedly denigrating women, including female reporters, and posting a video last year in which he makes light of sexual assault by pretending to rape a woman in a parking garage. To view the letter, click here.
The video, entitled “How to Pick Up a Gurl…Fast,” was posted on YouTube last April. In the video, Jackson pretends to attempt to rape a woman, telling viewers to use chloroform to “help her relax,” and buy zip ties. At one point Jackson states that he hopes his target “got low self-esteem.” To watch the video, click here.
According to the letter: “The UFC must begin holding its fighters accountable for their actions and adopt a meaningful code of conduct…The behavior of Rampage Jackson, UFC President Dana White and other UFC fighters is unacceptable. Misogynistic and sexist behavior can no longer be tolerated in the UFC.“
Representatives from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Rape Victims Advocates, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Between Friends, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, and Mujeres Latinas en Acción, along with seven clergy leaders from the Chicagoland area, the 8th Day Center for Justice, 20 professors and staff from seven Chicagoland area universities, and labor union UNITE HERE signed the letter calling on the UFC and FOX to immediately pull Jackson from the event.
The UFC has not issued an official discipline of Jackson nor issued a public statement about Jackson’s offensive and inappropriate video. Rather than punish Jackson, the UFC scheduled Jackson to fight at the United Center on Saturday.
Because irresponsible remarks and actions in the UFC do not end with Jackson (http://www.unfitforchildren.
“This is truly appalling and undermines the work we do every day,” says Athanasia Papaioannou, Assistant Director of the University of Illinois Chicago Women’s Leadership and Resource Center.
So was the timing of Matt Hughes’ appointment and the implementation of the new UFC Conduct Policy for fighters just a coincidence or was their pressure from FOX and UFC sponsors with Rampage fighting Saturday on the UFC on FOX 6 card?