LAS VEGAS - MAY 28: UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (L) speaks to Joe Rogan (R) and the crowd about his fight against UFC fighter Rashad Evans at UFC 114: Rampage versus Rashad at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Quinton Jackson's post-UFC 130 interview with Karyn Bryant was talked about almost as much as his fight with Matt Hamill. In the interview Jackson made jokes about Bryant "making him horny" before "motorboating" or at least "air motorboating" her chest. This after previous incidents which had led to reporters complaining about his behavior.
The incident led to my writing about the MMA community's attitude toward women. The fact that Bryant said that she was okay with the situation meant that many fans were willing to write the situation off as "if she doesn't care, I don't care" with no regard for the pattern of behavior and failure to learn by Jackson.
If that weren't bad enough, Jackson began retweeting comments about how his actions were "alpha" before taking to tweeting at Bryant about showing her how an "alpha" acts and suggesting Ariel Helwani is gay following their bizarre interview. After Maggie Hendricks wrote an article at Yahoo's Cage Writer blog about the Rampage/Bryant situation he then said that he bets Maggie is "ass ugly."
If that weren't enough, Cage Potato points out that UFC color commentator Joe Rogan chimed in on the situation on the Underground responding to a forum critique of Hendricks' writing:
I think Rampage occasionally gets out of line, and I think some of what he does in interviews [is] unfortunate. I also think that's a part of his charm. He's not a f*cking dentist, he's a cage fighter, and he's one with a very unique personality. I don't think he should be given a free pass for some of the questionable things he does, but I do think that this woman in question is all kinds of c*nty. The Skywalker broke down everything that's wrong with her and her sh*tty, c*nty brand of writing to a f*cking T. That, was worthy of the #BOOM.
(editing of words done by Bloody Elbow.)
I'm sure we'll hear the usual defenses of Joe's bad behavior. "He's a comedian!" "This is how guys talk!" And the other similarly weak excuses.
But if you really want to take that stance, you can't advocate that people treat MMA with the slightest bit of respect on the level of other sports. While the NBA, NFL and MLB run campaigns addressing the homophobic slurs used by their stars (as well as leveling fines for tens of thousands of dollars) or taking part in the "It Gets Better" campaign against bullying, the UFC embraces this behavior.
We all know from Rogan's treatment of Tomas Rios (calling him a "f*g") that there's no punishment coming. Rogan won't be suspended, fined or reprimanded. Maybe they'll tell him to "say sorry" but it will be as hollow as his "apology" to Rios in which he apologized for calling him "f*g" by calling him "c*nty."
Rogan's behavior is so far beyond what would be allowed from anyone in a position of far less visibility in any other sport that it actually demands MMA not be taken seriously by the mainstream. To pretend that the behavior of visible members of the UFC doesn't actually impact the amount of respect and, in turn, the amount of coverage the sport receives is plain ignorance.
I'll turn to Cage Potato to sum up one of the problems with even covering these stories:
In a way, all stories like this feel manufactured, in the sense that us members of the media care about them, despite the fact that the majority of sports fans don't give a rat's ass. It's just not part of their conversation. Nine out of ten UFC fans will side with Quinton Jackson and Joe Rogan every time, because Rampage and Joe are awesome, and motorboating is hilarious, and who the f*ck is Maggie Hendricks anyway?
At the end of the day, that's the world we live in. One where a female reporter talking about an issue concerning her profession and gender is turned into the villain while the fans all smile and laugh.