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Editorial: Don’t expect the UFC to enforce its code of conduct

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The bottom line is more important to the UFC than holding its fighters accountable

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Conor McGregor has reportedly punched an Italian DJ
Conor McGregor has reportedly punched an Italian DJ
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

My first thought when former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier recently brought up the UFC code of conduct was that he might get an earful from the UFC brass. My reason for this thinkings was simple, the UFC doesn’t want to enforce its code of conduct because to do so would hurt the promotion’s bottom line.

In my opinion, Cormier let his anger at his chief nemesis, Jon Jones, who was arrested in late September for misdemeanor battery domestic violence, get the best of him when he brought this up.

“We have a code of conduct. We actually have a code of conduct in the UFC. It’s a matter of enforcing it, and even at the height of our rivalry - when we sat in front of Joe Rogan, and we yelled, and went back and forth, and we called each other names, and got very personal in regards to our relationship, our spouses, everything - I said I don’t want nothing life-threatening to happen to Jon Jones, regardless of what I feel about him professionally and personally. I never found pride and I still don’t find joy in the fact that he is not able to get over whatever demons he is dealing with in this moment and he’s dealt with for so long. But there is a Code of Conduct! It’s about finding and sticking to that Code of Conduct,” Cormier told ESPN.

When I read Cormier’s words I thought was he was right, but I also thought he better be careful what he asks for. The reason I say that is if the UFC enforces the code of conduct correctly — without bias and at all times — it could cost them money.

It did not take long for another example to arise.

Former two-division UFC champ Conor McGregor’s name once again showed up in the police blotter for reportedly slugging a civilian. Italian DJ Francesco Facchinetti, said he and his wife were hanging out with McGregor and his fiancee, when the UFC fighter attacked him for no reason.

If what Facchinetti claims is true, McGregor’s actions would constitute an obvious violation of the code of conduct. With that, again, if the UFC would enforce the policy correctly, McGregor would be up for a lengthy suspension.

However, we know the UFC rarely enforces the code of conduct and when it does; it is does so randomly and rarely against a fighter who contributes to its bottom line like McGregor does.

In cases like McGregor’s, where the law gets involved, the UFC, through UFC president Dana White, usually shrugs its shoulders and claims the punishment the courts decide is sufficient discipline.

It’s not.

An athlete who runs afoul of the UFC code of conduct needs to know the UFC is taking a stand against what the fighter did wrong, like injuring UFC staff and fighters or punching a man at a bar. When the UFC defers to law enforcement and takes no action of its own, that is tacit approval of the fighter’s actions.

I wholeheartedly agree the UFC needs to revisit and enforce its code of conduct, but I’m confident it will not do so.