Dennis Hallman waits for the bell at UFC 133. Photo by Tracy Lee for Yahoo! Sports
I missed the reveal. I watch UFC PPVs on my computer (legally, to nip that point in the bud), and I'm usually checking Twitter or taking notes while fighters make their entrance into the arena. Which is unfortunate, because had I been watching when Joe Rogan said, "...and what an unfortunate choice of shorts," I probably would have laughed, both at the sight of Dennis Hallman's lavender shorts and the deadpan reaction from Rogan.
One man was not amused. UFC President Dana White tweeted, "WTF!!!! Fighting in that will be illegal after tonight! Anyone want to grapple with hallman?" Despite his touchy history with the queer community, I was willing to give Dana White the benefit of the doubt. I know as well as anyone that tone and nuance translate poorly on Internet, and there was enough ambiguity in the tweet (Seinfeldian in its use of the exclamation mark) to play the dreaded Homophobia Card.
Dana forced my hand, though, when he spoke to leading motorboat reporter Karyn Bryant. Here's Dana's full quote from that exchange:
"I'd call it disgusting. It was disgusting. I don't know how his cornermen- First of all, I'm pissed that someone that works for me let him come out with those on, number one. Number two, as a cornerman, how do you seriously [not] say, 'Dude, this might be a bad idea. You might not want to wear these out there. It was not good. It will never happen again. I can guarantee you that.
"I'm serious. I seriously gave Ebersole the $70,000 bonus. There were only three bonuses tonight. Tito/Rashad for fight of the night, and then Vitor for the KO of the night. That's it; there were no more bonuses. I gave him that bonus for getting that off television as fast as possible. And that's the truth.
"You don't want to remembered for that. That's the last thing you want to be remembered for is going out there and making people watch five minutes of that."
"Making people watch five minutes of that." Five minutes of what exactly? What are we insinuating? Five minutes of Hallman's EXPOSED UPPER THIGH? (WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!) Or is it the five minutes of Hallman's dong resting in that little pouch in the front? (Because the bicycle shorts of Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre leave so much to the imagination.) And it's not like this sort of thing hasn't appeared in the UFC before, or have we forgotten Shonie Carter so quickly?
It would be one thing if White responded (hell, even with anger) that the UFC can't risk Hallman's dong popping out (in HD!) due to some sort of wardrobe malfunction. (It did, by the way. Obvious NSFW link.) That's a legitimate concern for a company trying to push its way into the mainstream.
But that wasn't the source of Dana's anger. It was the shorts themselves. Those skimpy, lilac Speedos. The same sort of attire that nearly every professional wrestler has worn for the last 50 years. Disgusting. Degenerate. Hallman should be ashamed of himself! Nevermind those scantily-clad women gingerly walking around the Octagon helping you count to three (or five). The UFC will not tolerate a man in briefs! And we'll reward the strange character that gets him off the television AS FAST AS HE CAN.
This is blatant homophobia. It made Dana White feel funny cageside, and Dana White does not like being made uncomfortable in his house. So Dana White responds in such a way as to fulfill every stereotype of MMA as a place for macho jock alpha male types. It's such a huge issue that the UFC went out of its way to choose all of four photos of the fight for the event gallery, all of which obscure Hallman's choice of attire.
Dana will have his defenders. He always does. And the credentialed media won't press the issue because he didn't go so far as to use unambiguous slurs. People will accuse me of hyperbole, the issue will fade into obscurity, and it won't be raised until he says something dumb and we repeat the cycle once again. Business as usual!