The UFC manages to find ways to stumble into bad press with an odd degree of regularity. In a recent slip-up a notorious sex offender was a guest at a MMA legalization event in New York, something one attendee claimed "couldn’t get any worse from a p.r. standpoint."
Tonight's slip-up (in an outstanding night of fights), was giving cageside tickets to NFL'er Mike Pouncey.
Pouncey was one of the men named in the investigation into the harassment of Jonathan Martin by the Miami Dolphins offensive linemen led by Richie Incognito.
Some highlights of Pouncey's involvement include taunting that included homophobic slurs:
The "you're my bitch" comments added to name-calling that had begun in 2012, Martin's rookie season, when Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey began regularly calling Martin a "cunt," a "bitch," a "pussy" and a "faggot." Martin was not surprised to hear these words used by football players, but believed they were frequently hurled at him with demeaning intent. The evidence shows that these words -- at least at times -- were spoken to Martin in a cutting tone or with the intent to humiliate him. According to Martin, these types of taunts were a routine part of his life with the Dolphins.
Insulting Martin's sister:
Martin also recalled that the comments about his sister were sometimes accompanied by obscene physical gestures. For example, he claimed that on the practice field, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey would call his sister a "squirter" and then squirt water onto the field from their water bottles, and that while engaged in certain warm-up stretching exercises, they would simulate having sex with his sister. Incognito confirmed these allegations.
Racism directed toward a trainer:
The Assistant Trainer was born in Japan and attended university there through 2001, before emigrating to the United States. Martin said that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey directed racial slurs at the Assistant Trainer, calling him a "Jap," a "Chinaman" and a "chink"; referred to him as a "dirty communist" or a "North Korean"; made demands such as "give me some water you fucking chink"; spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for "rubby rubby sucky sucky"; and called his mother a "rub and tug masseuse." Martin also informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer by saying that they had had sex with his girlfriend.
Allegations of homophobic taunting:
Martin said that on one occasion, Pouncey physically restrained Player A and, in full view of other players, jokingly told Jerry to "come get some pussy," and that Jerry responded by touching Player A's buttocks in a way that simulated anal penetration. Pouncey and Jerry both denied this allegation. Given the seriousness of this allegation and the conflicting recollections, we decline to make any findings about this particular alleged incident.
And, this delightful text exchange with Richie Incognito after Incognito apologized to Martin after the story began to go public:
Incognito: Fuck Jmart That faggot is never [allowed] back
Pouncey: Bro I said the same thing I can't even look at him the same he's a pussy
Incognito: My agent just asked if we held mandatory strip club meetings Jmart is fucking ratting on everyone
Pouncey: Lol wow are you serious he is a fuck boy
Pouncey: He's not welcome back bro I can't be around that fucking guy
Incognito: Fuck that guy if Ur not with [u]s Ur against us
Pouncey: No question bro he's a coward for snitching
Incognito: Snitches get stitches Blood in blood out Fucking guy
Pouncey: He's dead to me
In other words, Pouncey is one of the men who came out of the Miami investigation looking absolutely terrible.
He's a fantastic player on the field, but could still be suspended by the NFL for his role in the situation.
So, not exactly the best guy to gift tickets to if you're a promotion dealing with your own issues with homophobia, racism, bullying and otherwise undesirable behavior from it's fighters and executives.
It's bad PR that can easily be avoided, but just never is...for whatever reason.