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Bad News Day for MMA: LA Times Condemns Rampage Jackson and Whole Internet Goes Crazy Over "Cage Fighter Killer"

Accused murderer Jarrod Wyatt, the new face of MMA worldwide.
Accused murderer Jarrod Wyatt, the new face of MMA worldwide.

It looks like the PR team of the UFC has their work cut out for them this week. First off, the LA Times gives notice that they're going to be running a Sunday magazine cover story on Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and his behavior on the A-Team set:

At issue: a movie crew member had wandered in on this final day of principal photography and - whether jokingly or not - called the muscle-bound movie star a homophobic epithet. Jackson had responded with barely contained fury. He threw the guy out, shouting him down with every conceivable gay slur. "You're a punk!" Jackson finally bellowed.

He claimed the crew member's intent had been to provoke a physical assault. "That ... wanted me to punch him so he could sue me," the professional body-slammer explained, using a certain 12-letter curse word that he lets fly often in conversation - a word that has no business appearing in a family newspaper and, for the sake of this article, will from here on out be substituted with "individual."

"Acting is kind of gay," Jackson said. "It makes you soft. You got all these people combing your hair and putting a coat over your shoulders when you're cold. I don't want a coat over my shoulders! I'm a tough-ass [individual]!"

The whole piece is a little more even handed, but they're leading with Rampage at his worst.

Michael David Smith comments:

Too often, negative newspaper profiles of mixed martial artists are filled with inaccuracies and ignorance, and biased in a way to portray MMA in the worst possible light. This profile of Jackson, however, actually treated him quite fairly. And the ignorance on display in the Los Angeles Times article isn't the writer's, it's Jackson's.

The profile reveals that Jackson sprinkles a casual homophobia into his conversation, throwing out the kinds of comments that should be considered out of bounds in decent society.

And that's nothing compared to the tabloid powered PR disaster that is this, from the Huffington Post of all places: 

Jarrod Wyatt, a 26-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, is accused of brutally murdering his 21-year-old friend, Adam Powell. According to the Times-Standard, prosecutors claim the pair took mushrooms along with two other friends in late March. The paper reports that witnesses say Powell and Wyatt "became preoccupied with the idea that a tidal wave was coming, that the end of the world was upon them and that a struggle between God and the devil was taking place."

When police arrived, they found Wyatt naked and covered in dried blood. According to an officer at the scene, Wyatt admitted to cutting out his victim's tongue and heart. Powell's corpse included an 18-inch incision on his chest, and Wyatt allegedly said he cooked the 21-year-old's heart in a wood stove to "stop the devil."

Zach Arnold points out that this is an old story and explains why it took so long to make the big online tabloids:

The case is currently being tried in Del Norte County in Crescent City. Crescent City, the one ‘main' city (if you want to call it that), is about 90-100 minutes driving north of Eureka. Don't expect Crescent City to have the media, outside of their small newspaper The Triplicate, to be able to do a lot of in-depth coverage on the court proceedings. Crescent City's media market pulls mostly from Southern Oregon (think: Medford). Perhaps the Medford media will take a look and cover the case. Crescent City is right next to Brookings, which is a small town on the Oregon side of the border where people go during the Summer.

The story of the ‘heart-ripping Cage Fighter' drew national attention after The Daily Mail, one of London's yellow papers, gave the case sensational attention. It was soon picked up by Drudge, New York Daily News, and other media outlets. The reason why you didn't hear about this story sooner is because in the top third portion of California (the part that most Southern Californians consider to be more or less part of Oregon), everything is really spread out and there isn't much media concentration at all. The distance between towns like Crescent City, Eureka, Redding, Chico, and Ukiah is long.

It's so maddening that even after such a huge and successful event at UFC 114, the view of MMA in the "mainstream media" remains so awful. Wyatt, with his 1-0 record barely qualifies as a "cage fighter". It's as if the NFL were held responsible anytime someone who had played one semi-pro game went bad. Ridiculous.

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