A coalition of national and Chicago-area women's groups including the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Rape Victims Advocates, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Between Friends, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network, and Mujeres Latinas en Acción, along with seven clergy leaders from the Chicagoland area, the 8th Day Center for Justice, 20 professors and staff from seven Chicagoland area universities, and labor union Unite Here has released a letter demanding that
The full text of the letter is below.
Long-time readers will quickly recognize the name "Unite Here" -- the parent union of the Culinary Union which has been Zuffa's most-determined opponent for years now.
Anyone following the sport will not be surprised to hear that Rampage has drawn the ire of women's groups -- who could forget such classic moments as: Rampage Jackson releases 'fake rape' video, Rampage Jackson and the MMA community's attitude toward women, Karyn Bryant & Rampage Jackson & sexism in MMA and many many more.
The Culinary Union also went after the UFC for booking Jeremy Stephens on UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle despite his awaiting trial in Iowa. They've opposed the UFC's attempts to get MMA legalized in New York as well.
Conveniently the UFC has finally released its official Code of Conduct for fighters and put no less a figure than newly retired UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes in office as Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations to enforce it.
UFC Executive Lawrence Epstein explained at today's UFC on Fox 6 presser (transcribed by MMA Mania):
"It's really two announcements....(Hughes new job) and the second thing is the implementation of a written code of conduct for UFC athletes. As you think about these two announcements, you have to think about them as one. There's gonna be a huge connection with what Matt does and our new code of conduct. One comment on the code of conduct just to take care of that, it really isn't something that's new, just something that frankly for the first time has been put in writing. We've always felt that our athletes need to live up to a high level of conduct and make sure everything they're doing obviously both inside the Octagon and outside is in compliance with the high standards of the UFC.
"This whole situation really started frankly when we took a look at the sports landscape and looked at what all the other major sports leagues were doing like the NFL, Major League Baseball, NHL, et cetera. We also took a look at what some of the associations are doing. I think as many of you know, UFC's relationship with athletes is an independent contractor relationship. It's not like the relationship in the NFL where they're actually employees of the team. We looked at some of those organizations that had similar legal models and what we discovered was those organizations had an individual who was responsible for what they call athlete development and what we're calling athlete development also. The role of that person was first and foremost to be a mentor, to try and provide experience to hopefully keep guys out of trouble and stop guys from making mistakes that could affect both their career and could tarnish the image of mixed martial arts and the UFC."
Here's the letter:
January 24, 2013
To: FOX Network, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and UFC Sponsors
We are writing because we are outraged that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has Quinton "Rampage" Jackson on the main card of their upcoming January 26, 2013 UFC on FOX fight at the United Center in Chicago, IL.1 Jackson is a well-known UFC fighter who has repeatedly denigrated women. Last year, he even posted an internet video in which he makes light of sexual assault by pretending to attempt to rape a woman in a parking garage.
The fighter's video is alarming in itself, but is particularly unsettling in light of the alleged New Year's Eve rape of a young woman in a parking garage by two young men who, according to court documents, all know each other from a mixed martial arts school in the Washington D.C. area known for developing top UFC fighters. (In the court documents, the victim stated that she knew both of the Defendants from the Lloyd Irvin Martial Arts Academy, where she was an employee and a current student. She also stated that she and one of the alleged rapists were previously employed as co-workers at the Lloyd Irvin Martial Arts Academy, during this time they saw each other almost daily. The Academy specializes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts, and Thai boxing; owner Lloyd Irvin has trained and taught top UFC fighters.)
Jackson also has a disturbing track record of mimicking sexual acts with female reporters during interviews As Yahoo! Sports reporter Kevin Iole wrote, "It is already difficult for women to compete on equal footing with men as sports writers and Jackson's sexual overtones simply made it worse."
Last month, the UFC allowed fighter Abel Trujillo, who has pled guilty twice to Domestic Abuse Assault Causing Bodily Injury, an aggravated misdemeanor, to fight on national television. In both cases, the victim was identified as the mother of his child. The UFC has yet to acknowledge or comment on the fighter's history.
Offensive and irresponsible behavior doesn't end with the fighters. UFC President Dana White sets a despicable tone for fighters to follow. White has used foul and abusive language, especially derogatory to women, to users on Twitter, female journalists, and even to UFC fighters.
This kind of institutional culture is unacceptable, but it becomes even more troubling knowing that Dana White has stated the following: "... I want kids watching us. [...] This is a great sport for kids."
The behavior of Rampage Jackson, UFC President Dana White, and other UFC fighters is unacceptable. Misogynistic and sexist behavior can no longer be tolerated in the UFC. The UFC and FOX need to clean up their act in 2013 by cutting Quinton "Rampage" Jackson from the January 26th fight card and adopting a meaningful code of conduct.
The timing strikes me as curious and I wonder if the UFC didn't get wind of the letter in advance.
Here's Rampage talking to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani yesterday: