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Is MMA getting a bad rep from War Machine and Josh Grispi? UFC stars react to the domestic violence cases

Michael Bisping, Tyron Woodley, and other UFC stars discuss War Machine and Josh Grispi, and whether the sport is getting a bad reputation from the two domestic violence cases.

Photo by Anton Tabuena

Dominating the headlines for the past month are the very disturbing cases of domestic violence cases involving MMA fighters War Machine and Josh Grispi. While both men haven't competed in the UFC for years, for better or worse, the promotion's brand has become almost synonymous to Mixed Martial Arts, and these incidents have led to the organization and the sport itself to be on a microscope as of late.

Is MMA, and in turn, the UFC, getting a bad rep from these circumstances? Is it unfair that some people may have made generalizations about the sport because of these events? I've discussed the issue with a handful of UFC fighters that were in Macau this past week, and here's what they had to say about the two high profile cases:

Alberto Mina: I was in the middle of camp, and I didn't see all the details, but I did hear about it. It's very frustrating. We're moving on from the old Vale Tudo days where everything had no rules, no gloves, no doctors, and nothing to support the athletes. The UFC had a big part of this, and to make this (sport) more professional.

When I left my country for example, I had bachelor's degrees from Universities and everything, and for other people, it didn't make sense to have this education level and still be a fighter. Today, it's different. Unfortunately, on examples like that, it just drags us back to that bad time in our sport. But we can't generalize, as I believe it's just one case in a million. It's unfortunate that it happened, but now it's up to us to keep this professionalism and the coaching in the gyms, to try and mold and build that behavior of our students.

Luke Rockhold: I mean it's stupid to link that to MMA. I mean, you've got football players and other people getting away with murder and shootings and gang bangs, and all these stuff. They're putting a microscope on us for a couple of delinquents into our sport, versus the number of other guys who get away with stuff in (other) games? I think we have a fairly clean community for fighting... but I wouldn't say not drug free! (laughs). But violence and crime rate in our sport is not that bad.

There's a lot of punks anywhere in life, and they're going to be who they are. There's a lot of educated people in MMA and a lot of sharp and very intelligent people. It takes a lot to be at the top, and I think the guys in the UFC set a different standard compared to the other guys. I think most of the people in the UFC carry themselves a little bit differently.

Tyron Woodley: Yeah, to be honest, our world in general is a pretty f-up place right now. I'm looking at the internet, and I'm seeing all these riot stuff, and freaking overseas wars, and domestic violence, and police brutality. We need to pull it together in general. We can't even blame it on parenting. Some of those pictures I saw of War Machine whooping his girl -- and I don't know him, and I don't know what happened, I think we need to get the details of what happened -- but in general it's just a chaotic period of time for the world. It's two people out of freaking thousands, and those guys aren't even in the UFC anymore, so they don't have anything to do with us.

Michael Bisping: Obviously domestic violence is a disgusting thing, but War Machine and those guys, whilst being ex-UFC guys, and they choose to be Mixed Martial Artists or whatever, but that shouldn't reflect on the sport. It's like, you're a journalist. I'm sure, there's a journalist out there that's done terrible things. Does that mean that all journalists are terrible, and that the profession of journalism is a bad thing? No! Any profession or whatever, there's good people and there's bad people and it shouldn't reflect on Mixed Martial Arts.

Elizabeth Phillips: I don't have much to say about it. It's unfortunate, and people definitely look at it negatively, but things happen, and things happen in every other sport. There's a lot of stuff going on now, but I definitely think it's a negative for MMA, especially since we have this bad stigma. Maybe in certain areas of the world, they may not agree with MMA, so I think it's important for fighters to represent it very well.

I think (some in the mainstream media) are just uneducated, and they don't realize how much skill it takes to do this. It's not just 'grungy' fighting in a bar or anything. It's high level skilled martial artists involved.

Follow me on twitter -- @antontabuena

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