Social media has come a long way over the years, but it seems that some people in the MMA business don't have a firm grasp on when and how to use it in the most positive way. When employed purely as a promotional device for by an MMA promotion it can work wonders for getting the word out about events, fighter signings, even to announce when tickets go on sale. Instead of having to hang up 1000 posters on the streets, you can just send one simple tweet and a bunch of people will (hopefully) see it.
But there's a whole other side to using social media, and that became all too apparent once again last night. World Series of Fighting's Josh Burkman asked for his release from the promotion on twitter, and received a strong push back on the same platform from matchmaker/VP Ali Abdel-Aziz. This led to former UFC fighter Vinny Magalhaes and WSOF president Ray Sefo getting involved as well. While Sefo and Burkman mostly took the high road and just said their piece, Abdel-Aziz and Magalhaes quickly elevated to mud-slinging and insults. Magalhaes even tweeted a copy of a WSOF contract that he never signed.
And after people caught onto what was happening, they both promptly deleted the most offensive tweets.
I'm sure that neither man is happy with pesky media outlets like ours capturing their childish statements before they deleted them and presenting them to whoever wants to read about what really happened. It's probably a tad embarrassing to Ray Sefo too, who by all accounts is a good guy just trying to run a solid business. But it's becoming a running theme in MMA - say something dumb on twitter, then try to make it go away ASAP and act like it never happened.
Obviously the biggest elephant in the room in regards to twitter is UFC president Dana White. He goes after trolls and even the occasional legitimate person on twitter at regular intervals, seemingly just for his own amusement. I won't even try to defend White for this sort of thing, but at least you won't see him insult someone and then delete the tweet. You can go through his twitter feed any time and see the caustic stuff he has to say. That doesn't make it right. But at least he's not backing down from it.
On the other hand, you have people like UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. The champ has taken a page out of Dana's playbook and has turned up the heat on his twitter account, often saying brash or downright insulting things in regards to fans and fighters alike. But Jones won't stand by his words - he often deletes the offensive tweets after a few minutes or hours. Again, sites like ours are there to capture him laughing at the idea of fighting Dan Henderson, or hurling insults towards former UFC fighter Tyson Griffin for eternity. But why say it at all in the first place?
Now I'm not going to try and tell you that an industry full of cage fighters and the people that work around them should be required to behave perfectly and act in an appropriate manner at all times. That would just be naive, because there's no way it's going to happen. But at the same time, is it really necessary to get into petty arguments with fellow businessmen and throw useless insults around on the internet? Is it simply because they feel the need to defend a point or stance in a public forum? Is it in the spirit of the "any press is good press" credo? Or maybe it's just for their own amusement, similar to Dana. Who knows.
Regardless of the reasoning behind this sort of thing, the end result is always always the same - you look bad. A silly twitter beef isn't likely to topple your brand or anything. But ill-advised jokes (Miguel Torres), RTing the wrong thing (Ronda Rousey and Sandy Hook), or just plain offensive tweets (Nate Diaz) can have real consequences. Insulting fighters like Magalhaes and then straight up misrepresenting the reasoning behind your tweets in regards to Burkman (if Josh was made to be the face of WSOF, why wasn't he even listed on the mythical 10-fight event challenge to Bellator three months ago?) can too, even if it's just damage to your credibility in Abdel-Aziz's case. Things like that add up, whether you believe that or not.
In this day and age, it might be convenient to sit down at your computer or bust out your phone so you can speak to the masses. But there are potential pitfalls to doing that, especially in a sport like MMA. Whether you're an executive, a fighter, a media member, or even just a fan - think before you type. It's really not that difficult.
It also saves you the time needed to pointlessly delete your questionable statement, because the damage has already been done.