Babalu's Not That Bad

Jake Rossen's new column on the Babalu incident reaffirms a couple of things I've been saying.

1.  The choke isn't that bad.  Rossen believes part of what led to Babalu's dismissal from the UFC was his expendability.  That means it wasn't the heinousness of the crime itself, but rather, the crime was a catalyst for further punitive action.  To wit:

I feel bad for Sobral, not because I condone his juvenile behavior, but because his lack of marquee appeal could have cost him a lucrative tenure in the UFC. With the recent influx of talent, he may have been perceived as an expendable concession to public relations. This same company did not sever relations with commission-convicted steroid users Tim Sylvia (Pictures) and Stephan Bonnar (Pictures); it invited Phil Baroni (Pictures) back after he struck a referee; it rewarded the street fighting legends of Lee Murray (Pictures) and Sean Gannon with opportunities on premium telecasts.

2.  The UFC's distrubtion of justice is unequal and their methodology for doing so ad hoc.  The UFC has 31 rules fighters must obey in the Octagon and of course, Sobral broke one (or more).  Specifically, he flagrantly ignored the instructions of the referee.  But what does that mean going forward?  What is the punishment for that crime?  Is there a framework to decide punishment?  Is that worse than doing steroids?  What defines "flagrant"?  To my knowledge, there is no answer.  The UFC is administering justice by the seat of it's pants.  It's deciding what to do on individual bases each time without regard whatsoever to precedent or equality.  Rossen reaffirms:

The gravity of punishment going on in the organization seems random at best, selective and biased at worst. Are choices being made out of a sense of responsibility, or at the whim of the accountant?

As a sport, you expect participants to adhere to the rules. But as a rational person, you can also expect an activity in which the primary goal is to render someone else helpless and physically subservient to occasionally play host to some unpleasantness.

Rossen eventually concludes it will be a shame to not see Babalu in the UFC, despite his "juvenile" behavior.  I can't say I disagree.  I just wish those who believe Babalu's crime to be his downfall to square their beliefs with the reality that he was cut for reasons that extend well beyond his actions on the night of the Heath fight.

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