Sometimes, it's hard to remember that perspective exists outside the MMA bubble. That narratives can operate without a perspective on personal history or past public declaration. The UFC recently released their fourth episode of "UFC Embedded" a video blog following various fighters as they arrive in Las Vegas, in preparation for UFC 173. In the episode, Dan Henderson is seen making a larger order of Popeye's fried chicken, which he plans on giving to Cormier, as a prank. Henderson tracks down Cormier at a light workout and delivers the goods. Cormier responds with "Get that out of here, I don't need it" and "What an a**hole! My God Henderson, what a dick!"
For MMA fans, it's a pretty well known fact that Daniel Cormier really likes fried chicken. He highlighted it for MMAWeekly in the lead up to his bout with Patrick Cummins, and his diet of barbecue and Popeye's in particular were highlights of his struggles to get down to the light heavyweight limit. Dan Henderson is obviously preying on Cormier's known weaknesses for the enjoyment of all involved.
Here's Cormier talking about a particular, Popeye's related moment of weakness after his fight with Rashad Evans was scrapped:
But this narrative is all deep "in the bubble" stuff. If you're not a hardcore fan that follows every little detail about the lives of fighters, this is a very easy subtext to miss. And without it, we have a video of a white guy bringing a black guy a bag full of fried chicken to throw off his weight cut, because he knows the black guy will find it irresistible. That's not the real narrative, that's not nearly all that's happening here, but it's a story line the UFC may want to be more cautious of in light of organizations looking to publicly undercut their credibility.
The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 already maintains a website dedicated to the UFC's media faux pas. Unfit For Children is full of exactly the kind of context free story grabbing that can make a relatively innocent prank like this part of a prolonged attack on Station Casinos and the UFC. It could be that Dan Henderson just added another piece to their highlight reel.
UPDATE FROM KID NATE: There have been some questions about why we posted this and I just wanted to give some context as to why I assigned Zane to write this story.
First my background. I have 15 years of high level experience in politics, public affairs, advertising and public relations. At one point I was a director in a major public affairs firm and reported directly to this man who reported directly to this man. I have been chewed out personally by the late Ann Richards who worked two doors down the hall while we both worked for that firm.
While I worked there we ran campaigns that convinced voters that they should pay for this thing, and this thing and this thing. We ran the campaign that got home equity loans legalized in Texas. We helped save Firestone Tires. And that was just a fraction of the stuff we did. We advised the winner of this foreign election. I didn't personally work on all those campaigns but I watched them all closely from right up close.
From there I was an activist and Democratic political operative. I'm not a Democrat and wasn't that committed to the party per se but was very opposed to George W. Bush because two of my former bosses were among his highest level advisers and I knew how screwed up that whole deal was going to be.
I worked for Senator John Kerry. I had a 1 on 1 meeting with him in the basement of his Georgetown townhouse the evening after he pulled this gaffe. He didn't think it was serious. It turned out to be the last straw for his presidential aspirations.
I worked for Senator Mark Warner as Director of Online Communications of his national PAC. I was the top consultant for the campaign that helped bring down Tom DeLay (the most powerful and most corrupt Majority Leader in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives).
I've worked on campaigns from every level from local judge to the president of the United States. I've done this stuff in 34 states and four countries. So believe me, I am qualified to tell you whether or not something is a potential PR problem. In fact Fortune 500 CEOs have paid thousands of dollars an hour for my advice. Politicians paid much much less. Lol.
If you don't think a fried chicken joke between friends can ruin public reputations, ask Fuzzy Zoeller how he feels about that. An off the cuff remark he made about his friend Tiger Woods is now way above his entire golfing career on his wikipedia page.
As far as the complaint that if we didn't make a big deal of this it wouldn't be a story. Here's the deal, the UFC released the video. It's already gotten lots of face-value coverage. The Culinary Union has seen it. They pay people to scour the MMA sites for things like this.
Moral of the story? I know how the Culinary Union works because I've done the same stuff for a long time. All they need to do is put together a description of this video and pass it out to every member of the New York Assembly and I guarantee you the Zuffa lobbying team in New York will have a long horrible day.
That's the whole point of the story. The UFC just released a video, that while harmless and well meaning in itself, can give their political opponents a free day of offense and put their team on defense. That's called an unforced error in both tennis and politics.
Should it be? No.
Is it stupid? Yes.
But those are the rules of American politics, one of the most corrupt, sensationalistic and stupid environments possible. I was once told by a wise old hack that there are three places in American life where every single thing you do has to be so clear it cannot be misinterpreted by even the stupidest person watching: junior high school, prison and politics.
It's true. Sorry.