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Thugnasty Fact Check: Bryce Mitchell leaves UFC Vegas 12 with anti-mask message

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After UFC Vegas 12, the rising featherweight star had a lot to say about mask mandates in his home state, bolstered by several questionable statements and some anecdotal evidence.

Bryce Mitchell nabbed the biggest win of his young career on Saturday night at UFC Vegas 12, a grappling-heavy victory over action-veteran Andre Fili in the evening’s co-main event. But his performance was quickly overshadowed by his desire to make a different kind of statement.

After he finished fielding questions during the UFC Vegas 12 post-fight press conference, Mitchell took some time to offer his opinion on how his home state of Arkansas was dealing with COVID-19. To say he is unhappy would be an understatement.

Mitchell had a lot to say on the subject of masks, the government, and COVID-19. Bloody Elbow broke down ‘Thugnasty’’s points from his time on the mic.


Bryce Mitchell: I was driving by an elementary school the other day and I seen all these kids outside that were trying to play on the playground… and they all got masks on.

Accuracy? - Possibly true, but not by state mandate

According to a memo from the Arkansas Department of Health, which is dated October 5, 2020:

Persons younger than 10 years of age (This requirement shall not supersede any decision by the Secretary of Education, public school district, or private school to require masks for children younger than 10 years of age while attending school); are exempt from wearing a mask.

A partial list of others who are exempt from wearing a mask, according to that same memo, are:

Persons with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.

Persons performing job duties where a six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the ability to safely and effectively perform the job duty.

Persons participating in athletic activities where a six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the activity or active exercise.

Persons consuming food or drink.

Persons driving alone or with passengers from the driver’s household.


Mitchell: And I see them out there, some of them (elementary school students), some of them taking their masks off so they can breathe fresh air. They can get fresh air in their lungs when they take their masks off... And that makes me sick that these kids can’t get fresh air.

Accuracy? - False

According to the Mayo Clinic:

For many years, health care providers have worn masks for extended periods of time with no adverse health reactions. The CDC recommends wearing cloth masks while in public, and this option is very breathable. There is no risk of hypoxia, which is lower oxygen levels, in healthy adults. Carbon dioxide will freely diffuse through your mask as you breathe.


Mitchell: There was no vote that said we want our kids in masks, we want to wear masks, we want our businesses shut down, we want our restaurants at half capacity, we want our gyms at half capacity and I just don’t know who [Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson] thinks he is telling us that we have to shut down our businesses or shut our businesses to half capacity without a vote.

Accuracy? - State governments can absolutely tell you to wear a mask.

According to the American Bar Association:

Under the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment and U.S. Supreme Court decisions over nearly 200 years, state governments have the primary authority to control the spread of dangerous diseases within their jurisdictions. The 10th Amendment, which gives states all powers not specifically given to the federal government, allows them the authority to take public health emergency actions, such as setting quarantines and business restrictions.


Mitchell: Make the masks optional.

Answer: Masks can’t be optional.

According to the CDC:

COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear masks in public settings and practice social distancing.

The mask helps prevent a person who is sick from spreading the virus to others. It helps keep respiratory droplets contained and from reaching other people.


Mitchell: If your mask works so well, why are you worried about if I’m wearing one?

Answer: You or others might be asymptomatic.

According to the University of California at San Francisco:

More recently, an Oregon seafood processing plant where workers were required to wear face masks reported an outbreak of 124 cases, 95 percent of which were asymptomatic. Similarly, in a Tyson chicken processing plant outbreak in Arkansas where workers were provided mandatory masks, 455 out of 481, or nearly 95 percent were asymptomatic.


Mitchell: Restaurants are at half capacity.

Accuracy? - Currently False

According to a memo from the Arkansas Department of Health dated September 9, 2020:

Dine-in service may continue; seating may now increase to up to 66% of total seating capacity. This includes indoor and outdoor dining areas. Seating shall be adjusted to maintain six (6) feet between occupied seats at adjacent tables.


Mitchell: In Arkansas it claims to have killed 270 people. The CDC claims 270 people died from corona.

Accuracy? - False

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, here are the numbers for the state as of November 1, 2020:

Total Cases: 113,057

Total Active Cases: 10,420

Total Deaths: 1,958

Mitchell clearly has some strong feelings about having to wear a mask while out in public. But at least from the points he raised at the UFC Vegas 12 presser, it doesn’t seem like he has many facts to back them up.