I'm very excited to announce that Jonathan Snowden, author of Total MMA, the best history of MMA I've read, is joining Bloody Elbow as our new features writer. Please welcome him aboard. Kid Nate.
Last weekend at the UFC's amazing Fan Expo, Zuffa owner Lorenzo Fertitta was like a proud poppa to hundreds of tattooed and muscle bound young men. Fertitta said the difference between the UFC and other major league sports organizations was the unprecedented access to fighters and executives. Not just at events like the Expo, but on Twitter and Facebook as well. Well, sometimes that public accessibility can backfire-and badly.
We all remember the tragic story of War Machine, let go from the UFC because of his uncontrollable tweets. Since then, we've seen explosions of the inappropriate from Chuck Liddell, Marcus Davis, and (of course) Dana White himself. This week, Jeremy Stephens and Jamie Yager got in on the action.
Stephens was the most egregious, using slurs for both homosexuals and blacks in an ill-advised attempt to challenge boxing star Floyd Mayweather Jr. But, Yager, the TUF fighter who quit on his stool last night, is the more interesting tale. Intrigue aplenty after the break....
After Yager's loss to the unheralded Josh Bryant, coach Tito Ortiz let fly, calling him a coward on national television. Since this is the 2010's Yager replied, not face-to-face or even on the phone, but via 140 characters. I guess that's why he needed 11 different messages to get his point across. Then, the bombshell. A newer, less populated twitter account proclaimed that the @The_Chosyn_One account was a phony. It wasn't Yager who called Ortiz a pussy and a faggot. It was an anonymous internet buffoon.
Mystery solved? Not so fast. Screenshots emerged. Both Yager's Facebook and his management team's twitter account both linked ot the "fake" address.
I contacted Yager's management company, Iridium MMA for comment to get to the bottom of this growing mystery. Ian Ho Whitaker helped shed some light.
We're not sure who @The_Chosyn_One is. As with so many guys who get on TUF, they get a surge of recognition and it sometimes spins out of control. People (fans and/or haters) sometimes set up fake accounts, fighters may have friends handle their accounts and with social media exploding the last several years, it's very hard to control. When this happens, confusion is inevitable and unfortunately, sometimes that confusion has detrimental results. Jamie's #1 focus is training and perhaps for that reason, Jamie was more susceptible to this kind misunderstanding. We're stilltrying to cut through the confusion ourselves, but @The_Chosyn_One is NOT Jamie Yager.
Iridium MMA claims that not only was Yager's Twitter account a fake, so was his Facebook page. MMA Gospel's "The Reverend of MMA" Turk Vangel is not sure he's buying it. He says he interacted with Yager via Facebook, even refrencing conversations the two had in person.
"If they are trying to cover up the remarks, it is simple PR damage control 101," Vangel said. "He said some things about Tito and used deragatory comments towards the homosexual crowd. This is something his management would want to bury very fast so as to not make him look like he is homophobic."
As the plot thickens, the Iridium_Sports twitter account that linked to the allegedly phony Yager account disappeared into the ether. Yager himself will answer questions about the situation from MMA Weekly's Damon Martin tonight on MMA Weekly radio. Whether Yager really made the racist and homophobic comments on Twitter is unclear. What is clear is crystal? Athletes better own their own cyberspace-or someone else will own it for you. And the results may not be appealing.