Jonathan Snowden sparked a conversation on homophobia in MMA with his recent article entitled "Kobe Bryant Punishment Underscores the UFC's Problem with Homophobia."
If you haven't been following the story, Kobe was recently fined $100,000 for throwing a nasty homophic slur referee Bennie Adams following a technical foul call.
Mr. Snowden argues the following:
"David Stern set the right example for White and UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. Action must be swift and meaningful."
I couldn't help but disagree more.
Stern's punishment was swift, but meaningless.
$100,000 sounds like a lot of money, until you consider the fact that Kobe's base salary is $24,806,250 a year. Spread out over 82 regular-season games, that means Kobe makes about $300K per game.
This means that Kobe earns enough money to pay the fine by the second quarter of a game.
Lame, especially since that $100K fine will probably be tax-deductible. And it's not like Kobe was some beloved man of the people, so he probably didn't lose many fans.
On the other hand, the UFC does have the ability to swing a mighty hammer when it wants to punish a fighter.
Dana White pulled Michael Bisping's bonus pay after the spitting fiasco at UFC 127. Now that was a real fine. Bisping's last reported win bonus was $150,000 at UFC 114, so the UFC took away a pretty big chunk of his income - way more than the pitiful 0.4% taken from Kobe Bryant.
However, Jonathan is correct on the bigger issue.
If the UFC wants to be taken seriously as a professional-sports organization and responsible-corporate citizen, it has to respond to homophobic comments made by staff and fighters with significant fines and/or suspensions.
The UFC has shown that it is willing to selectively dole out punishment - it just has to extend the heavy hand to homophobia.