UFC men’s bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo has received backlash for a tweet partially directed at one of the division’s best fighters.
As he angles to defend his title against Jose Aldo, Cejudo went after both top bantamweight contenders Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan, calling Russia’s Yan an “ugly communist potato” and referering to Sterling, an African-American, as “Aljamima.”
Triple C doesn’t even pay attention to Aljamima Sterling Silver @funkmastermma ♀️secondly, Triple C wants to fight you Petr, but your English needs to get Betr, you ugly communist potato And last but not least, my tune-up fight, the cabbage patch head Jose Waldo. @danawhite pic.twitter.com/5bRzspHrwb— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) February 17, 2020
“Triple C doesn’t even pay attention to Aljamima Sterling,” Cejudo wrote. “Secondly, Triple C wants to fight you Petr, but your English needs to get Betr, you ugly communist potato. And last but not least, my tune-up fight, the cabbage patch head Jose Waldo.”
Longtime UFC host Karyn Bryant, who’s African-American, called out Cejudo for the “Aljamima” moniker, which she described as racist.
“Champ, I respect your talent,” Bryant tweeted, “and I have thick skin. BUT, if you were wondering if calling @funkmasterMMA “Aljamima” was racist, the answer is yes. Yes it is. Please stop.”
“Aljamima” figures to reference Aunt Jemima, a popular American pancake mix and syrup brand founded and currently owned by Quaker Oats Company. Aunt Jemima is a fictional character — former slave Nancy Green famously portrayed her in advertisements — but one that is historically based on racial stereotypes of black female servants. The character was commonly depicted in late 19th century minstrel shows (with many portrayals by white performers in blackface).
The Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University includes Aunt Jemima as one of its “Mammy Caricatures.” As recently as January, a Pennsylvania judge was removed from the bench for allegedly referring to a black juror as “Aunt Jemima.”
Sterling later retweeted Bryant’s comments before getting into a separate Twitter back-and-forth, as has been the case for months. He’s not directly responded to Cejudo’s tweet as of this writing.