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Culinary Workers Union stirs up trouble again for UFC

Anheuser-Busch, a major sponsor of Ultimate Fighting Championship, has reprimanded the mixed-martial arts organization for remarks made by some fighters. Advocacy groups have criticized the fighters comments as sexist and homophobic.

Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson
Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson

"We've communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act," the brewer said in a statement. A-B, which did not elaborate on potential actions, also stated that it "embraces diversity and does not condone insensitive and derogatory comments rooted in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc."

The rebuke comes as the UFC is gaining mainstream exposure through support from major advertisers and a long-term TV deal with Fox that includes live prime-time matches.

In a statement to Ad Age, UFC said: "With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don't condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values."

A-B last year renewed its UFC deal in a multiyear pact that makes Bud Light a sponsor of pay-per-view and TV broadcasts, while giving the Bud Light logo prominent placement in the UFC's "Octagon" ring, as well as in press conferences, weigh-ins and locker rooms.

As it rises in popularity, UFC remains a polarizing sport, criticized by some for showcasing violent fighting and inflammatory rhetoric.

"We believe that the UFC contributes to a culture of violence against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence stated in a January letter to state assembly members in New York, urging the state to uphold its ban on professional mixed martial arts, which is legal in most states. "Children, in particular, should not be exposed to the homophobic, misogynistic and violent language that has been permitted by the UFC."

The letter referred to incidents aggregated at a website called unfitforchildren.org, which includes a collection of UFC videos and comments made by people associated with the organization. (The website is run by Las Vegas-based Culinary Workers Union Local 226. The union has unsuccessfully tried to unionize casinos owned by Station Casinos, which is partly owned by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who also own UFC parent company Zuffa LLC.)

The incidents cited by National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence include:

  • An undated video linked on unfitforchildren.org, in which UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson urges a Japanese-speaking fan to say: "I'm a fag."
  • A UFC press conference in which one fighter makes light of the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State scandal by telling another fighter: "I'm going to put those hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State," according to this ESPN.com report.
  •  Comments from Joe Rogan, a TV analyst for some UFC events, who reportedly used the C-word to describe Yahoo Sports mixed martial arts blogger Maggie Hendricks. Ms. Hendricks had called out fighter Mr. Jackson for the way he dealt with female interviewers at UFC events, such as telling one that she made him "horny."

 

Noting that some of the incidents in question have occurred over social media, UFC told Ad Age that "unlike most other sports leagues, we encourage our athletes to engage online. It is part of our company culture, and whenever you are at the forefront of a trend or initiative, it comes with its own pitfalls. We will continue to embrace social media while looking for better ways to stay in front of the issues. This includes a mandate for our athletes to attend sensitivity training and a seminar on proper use of social media."

A-B first commented on the issue when asked about it by a couple of beverage trade publications, Kane's Beverage News Daily and U.K.-based Brewers' Guardian, which reported on criticism of Bud Light's UFC advertising by alcohol watchdog group Alcohol Justice. The group, formerly called Marin Institute, frequently criticizes alcohol marketers for a host of reasons. Alcohol Justice has seized on the UFC issue to criticize this UFC-themed Bud Light Lime ad, which it says is "disgusting and typical of their cage-fighting sponsorship advertising campaign."

 

The ad features barely clothed UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste rolling around in limes and playfully uttering double entendres. It has never run on TV and has been distributed only through AB's age-gated Facebook and YouTube pages, according to the brewer.

In a letter to shareholders of A-B global parent Anheuser-Busch InBev, Alcohol Justice alleged that as UFC sponsor, the brewer is "delivering harmful content to millions of underage youth. At center stage is the ever-present Bud Light logo."

In its statement, AB said: "We take our role as a responsible advertiser and marketer very seriously, and we adhere to the industry's voluntary advertising and marketing code. While brand advertising influences brand choice amongst those 21 years of age and older who have already decided to consume alcohol, research shows that it does not influence increased consumption or misuse."

The industry's self-regulations call for alcohol marketers to run ads only in digital and broadcast outlets where at least 71.6% of the audience is 21 or older.

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Video: GSP And His Road Back To The Octagon

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Video: Inside The Octagon: Middleweight News, Reem Faces The Music And More

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Video: Joe Rogan: There's Something About Heavyweights

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Video: Lavar Johnson: Heavy Hits In And Out Of The Octagon

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Video: Frank Mir Is Ready For Cigano At UFC 146

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Video: Chuck Liddell Would Come Out Of Retirement For A Title Shot

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Mo Lawal: I can beat Jon Jones

After Saturday night's UFC 145 card, there are many left wondering who will be the one to dethrone Jon Jones. With an incredible reach advantage, and a very well rounded, complete game, the list is relatively short.

Muhammed Lawal spoke to the media recently, to tell his take on the situation.

Q: How do you feel about UFC fight bonuses?

Mo Lawal: I think they're good, but a lot of people put too much emphasis on trying to win those bonuses instead of on winning their fights. What it comes down to, is that you can still get cut if you win a bonus, especially the fight of the night bonus. Get them wins, because you can't deny a winner. You can be boring as Hell, but if you're winning, they can't deny you, so you're going to get paid.

Q: What was your opinion of the Jones/Evans fight?

Mo Lawal: You know, it was a good fight. Jones used his reach real good. I think Rashad did a good job, but he just needs to close the distance more and should fight more in his range. Jones did did good with keeping him at bay. Rashad fought a good first and second, and the first part of the third round, while he was moving forward. He just got outworked and outpointed.

It's not like Jones brutalized him or anything like that. Everybody tries to make it seem that way. Jones went out there and got a victory, which you're supposed to do. He fought smart and outworked him. Other than the elbows, it wasn't like he was out there throwing sonic booms. He was just out there, being Jon Jones, and outpointing him.

Q: What do you think is the key to beating Jon Jones?

 Mo Lawal: I think it's going to be the person that goes out there with confidence, and doesn't care.

Q: What do you think of Dan Henderson being named as Jon's next opponent?

Mo Lawal: I think that Jon Jones has got to use his distance, but if Dan goes out there and fights like, 'Fuck it', he can make it an interesting fight. As far as wrestling, Dan can get taken down if he gets tired, but the first few rounds, I don't see him getting taken down.

It all depends on which Dan shows up, and if he can stay healthy. That dude is a soldier [laughs]. I can't count how many times he's fought with pneumonia, and has fought sick. People just don't know. He fought Fedor while he was sick, fought Shogun sick. He fought back in PRIDE sick, a lot of times, but he fights anyway. I think Dan has a chance.

I laugh when people say fighters are unbeatable or unstoppable. Everybody is beatable. The only thing that's unstoppable is time.

Q: If Henderson isn't able to get by him, who do you think has the best chance to beat Jon Jones?

Mo Lawal: Shit, me. I'd fight him, and honestly, I think I could beat him. In the Mousasi fight, I was very inexperienced. I would've taken more chances if I could do it over again, because I like to go out there and fight.

I'd also like to see Rashad Evans get back in there again, after a few adjustments. He wasted a lot of energy just moving around, and getting stalked. It's easier to walk somebody down than it is to move around and be a jitterbug. I'd like to see him either walk him down or stand in the center and punch with him, because I think he could win.

Q: Do you think that they'll ever be able to bury their personal issues?

Mo Lawal: Who knows. They could. Maybe they could sit down with Greg (Jackson) and talk. It's up to them. Personally, I wouldn't. I'd just keep on moving. If they were really that tight from the get go, that fight would've never happened.

Q: I recently saw a video interview with Dana White where he commended you for reaching out to Pat Lundvall to apologize for your comments toward her. What are your thoughts on this, and have you heard from him or anyone at ZUFFA?

Mo Lawal: No, nothing at all. It's cool he said that. Thanks Dana, I appreciate it.

I don't know what's going to happen, though. I'm just going to have to see. I'm going to go wherever I get the best offer, and where I'm wanted.

Q: Is it in the cards at all, for you to possibly wait out your suspension before making a decision?

Mo Lawal: I don't really know about all that. I would like to know when I'd be fighting. I've only got four more months, and I'd like to know that as soon as I'm done, I'm going to be ready to start banging.

It's wherever the money is at, and whoever wants me. I'm going to be real with you. You don't get rid of what you want to keep.

Q: You've expressed interest in the past in pro wrestling. Have you entertained any offers from WWE or TNA?

Mo Lawal: Not at the moment. See, here's the thing, I turned pro wrestling down to continue real wrestling, and to make the jump to MMA. I love combat. I love to fight. I love pro wrestling, but I think I like fighting a little more. Actually, a lot more. I like to punch somebody in the fucking face. I like to do damage. That's just me.

Q: How's your knee and your overall health? Are you doing any kind of light training or just rehab?

Mo Lawal: Well, I've been doing rehab stuff, and just taking it slow. I can probably go back to training in about a month and a half or so. My knee is good, and my health is good. I'm up to 203 pounds now, and slowly putting my weight back on. I was never a big 205er, so if I hit 218, which is my max, then I'm good.

Q: What do you think of Henry Cejudo announcing his retirement?

Mo Lawal: Man, I'm so mad. That's my boy. I told him he needed to start competing more. He only competed three times in the last three. The more you compete, the better you get. He didn't listen. He left Ohio, where he was training with my boy, Shawn Bunch, to go back to Arizona, where nobody is training at his size or skill level. I think that what happened with him, is that he wasn't really prepared. He's a young kid, so he'll have to figure out what he wants to do from here on out.

When I retired, I was just like, 'Fuck it' and I moved on. I did the wrestling thing because I loved it, but then it got kind of boring. Now, I kind of miss it, especially when I watch the overseas competitions.

Q: Do you ever think about going back to it at some point?

Mo Lawal: No, but I am thinking about going back to Russia to watch a few tournaments and wrestle with some of the guys there. I want to bring them some gear, shirts and shoes, things like that. I had good times there, and there's some good people there. I'm looking to do that sometime next year.

Q: What are your thoughts on Alistair Overeem and his current troubles?

Mo Lawal: That's where it gets kind of weird to me. Why didn't they wait for the hearing? Did they talk to somebody? Did they get a head's up that he might not get his license? Why didn't they give the commissioner a chance to hear what his excuse was or what his reasoning was? Is it a conspiracy, or is it the UFC just using common sense, because they know how the commission is? You know, they're tough, and King Mo f*cked sh*t up for us [laughs]. I'm leaning towards it being common sense.

Q: How do you feel about the revised HW title bout with Frank Mir fighting Junior Dos Santos?

Mo Lawal: I think it's a good kung fu storyline. Frank Mir defeated his master twice. He beat him one by TKO and once by submission. It's time for Dos Santos to get the big payback.

They should've used payback as the storyline for this promo instead of Rashad and Jones. I mean, what's the revenge with them? They just had beef. There wasn't a revenge plot. This Mir/Dos Santos fight is a true revenge plot. If I was Dos Santos, I'd come out to James Brown's The Big Payback. That's my jam right there. I don't know karate, but I know crazy!

 

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Video: UFC 147 Press Conference

UFC 147 press conference, UFC president Dana White, UFC champion Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen

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VIDEO: DOS SANTOS REACTS TO OVEREEM/MIR SWAP: "KNOCKOUT, DOESN'T MATTER WHO"

Junior Dos Santos gives his reaction to the announcement that his next challenger will be Frank Mir and not Alistair Overeem as originally planned.

Overeem was pulled from the May 26 bout last week amid fears on the UFC’s part that he would not be able to obtain a license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission when he appears before the body tomorrow to explain why he had a 14:1 testosterone ratio following a test administered late March (the upper limit is 6:1)

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