From a pure sporting perspective Abel Trujillo turned in an impressive performance on Saturday's UFC on FOX 5 prelims. He finished opponent Marcus LeVessuer with a series of absolutely vicious knees to the body in what was the culmination of a violent, prolonged beatdown. What's not to love about a fighter who refuses to allow himself to be controlled against the cage while his opponent works for a takedown and instead takes his destiny into his own devastating hands?
Well, if the recipients of Trujillo's particularly effective brand of punishment were limited to the men he gets in the cage with the answer to the question would be "nothing." Unfortunately that's not the case. Trujillo has twice pleaded guilty to Domestic Abuse Assault Causing Bodily Injury. What makes this particularly hard to overlook is that the victim was the mother of his children.
While there is certainly a line of thinking that everyone deserves a chance to turn his or her life around after committing a crime that doesn't entail jail time, I'm not sure that flies in this case. If Trujillo wanted to be a firefighter or an accountant after what he did, then more power to him. But when a trained fighter decides to lay his hands on a defenseless woman - not just once but at least twice - I have a hard time squaring that despicable act with the privilege of making a living as a professional mixed martial artist. It's uncomfortable watching Trujillo punish an opponent with relentless shots to the body and face when you know he has used those same fists to batter a woman.
Domestic abuse is sickening enough under normal conditions, but when the offender is a man who is trained to inflict grievous bodily harm it becomes even more unpardonable. The whole "with great power comes great responsibility" line might be trite at this point, but it's perhaps nowhere more applicable than in the case of professional fighters. These are men whose bodies are literally deadly weapons thanks to years of training and experience. As a result it's incumbent upon fighters to maintain self control and not use their potentially devastating skill set to bully those weaker than them, especially when it comes to dealing with women.
There are myriad tales of young men who turn to martial arts as a way of harnessing inner demons into productive activity. We've all heard fighters who claim they were "headed down the wrong path" until being saved by MMA. This could possibly rationalize Trujillo's participation in the sport if it wasn't for the fact that he was already training by 2007 when the crimes took place and had his first amateur fight a year before. This doesn't sound like the story of a wayward youth who found martial arts and became a better man because of it.
In the end I don't know what the right thing to do with Trujillo is. His guilty pleas for domestic abuse came nearly six years ago; he very well may have completely repented and become a better man in the ensuing years. Does he deserve to be perpetually punished for mistakes he made in the past? That doesn't seem fair. Then again something seems equally unfair about granting him the opportunity to potentially become a wealthy man by using the same fists he once used to batter a woman.
Ultimately these are the kind of moral decisions we all need to make for ourselves. Some will say Trujillo's past transgressions shouldn't prevent him from being able to pursue his chosen profession whereas others will feel his actions justify blacklisting him from the sport. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes in that murky gray area where it's impossible to see the world in terms of absolutes.
All I know is that if I was in a position of power in the UFC I don't think I could sleep easy at night being in the Abel Trujillo business considering what kind of blood has been on his hands in the past. There are some stains you just can't wash off.
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