Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would prefer not to train with a gay student. Photo courtesy of UFC.com
Way back in 2009, Dana White addressed the issue of a gay fighter in the UFC in a video blog for UFC 98. White, hopefully correctly, said it would be no big deal (transcription by MMA Fighting):
"I honestly think it would have no impact whatsoever, with not only our fighters, but our fan base," White said. "The guys in the UFC, everybody's so cool, there's great sportsmanship, everybody's so respectful. It wouldn't be a big deal to me, and most of the guys I know in this sport, it wouldn't be a big deal to them either."
"I have no prejudice against the gays, but I wouldn't train with someone who's gay. I have no malice, I don't take our physical contact as (something) sexual. But what if the gay person has that malice of having physical contact with me, of staying there grappling? I would have no problems having a gay student in my academy, but I would rather not train with him."
This is just all sorts of unfortunate. I don't really know what to say. This is the equivalent of a guy telling his ladyfriend (or vice versa or guy telling his boyfriend or whatever) "Uh, yeah, it's not YOU that I don't trust. It's all those other guys that I don't trust!"
The only saving grace for Nogueira is if he also refuses to roll with women for the same, if reversed, reason. And that's only a saving grace in the sense that he would at least be consistent with some pretty outdated beliefs.
When Tom sent this to the Bloody Elbow email list, we reacted with sighs and groans. Nogueira is high up on most of our lists of favorite fighters, or at least an honorable mention. So, to hear that a guy not only believes this, but feels it's an appropriate thing to make public is more than disappointing.