ZUFFA needs clearer conduct code for Twitter
Jake Cochran, Correspondent
April 4, 2012
Filed under Beacon Blogs
Nothing new this week, a fighter under the ZUFFA banner has gotten themselves in trouble through Twitter.
Muhammed Lawal, aka King Mo, was released from Strikeforce Tuesday for the comments he made on his twitter account about Nevada State Athletic Commission Member Pat Lundvall.
He accused Lundvall of being a racist after she asked him if he could speak or read English.
This statement is something Lawal took very personally as he spent much of his life growing up in the south, where he claims he was asked the same question in the same tone and it was meant as offensive, so when the commission member asked him if he could speak English he took it as an insult.
His manager Mike Kogan said it best as to why the statement was offensive, “”It was already done before the hearing even started. The very first thing they asked him was, ‘Do you understand what’s going on? Do you understand the charges against you? Do you understand you can be represented by council.’And he said yes. So to come back 20 minutes later and ask the man if he speaks and understands English is very offensive.”
This however is not the first time a person has had a situation arise from Twitter. Bryan Caraway, Tito Ortiz, Forrest Griffin and Miguel Torres have all had situations arise from things they allegedly tweeted, and they have all been met with differing results.
Bryan Caraway got himself into a little trouble when he somehow was brought into the war of words between his longtime girlfriend, Former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate and her opponent, Current Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey.
Caraway got himself involved by saying, “and if she wants to challenge a man I’ll knock her teeth dwn her throat the break her arm!”
Not exactly the best response, but Caraway did not see any public punishment for his comment, mostly just a shaking of heads and a couple ‘cmon man,’ sentiments.
Tito Ortiz, the man with the longest title reign in UFC Light Heavyweight history also got himself into trouble with twitter and didn’t see any backlash from the front offices. He claimed his phone was hacked, which was the reason a picture of himself completely naked was tweeted from his account.
Again, not the best use of twitter, not even the best excuse, but the company just swept it aside and the tweets have been deleted from Tito’s timeline, but the internet will never forget with the help of celebrity gossip sites like TMZ and Perez Hilton.
The Forrest Griffin case however is a much more serious and offensive matter, this is where the UFC and their often funny poster boy made a big mistake.
During the midst of the Sandusky case breaking to the news media and everyone being all offended and what not, Forrest Griffin decided to tweet, “Rape is the new Missionary Position.”
In the list of bad ideas to tweet, rape jokes would probably be somewhere near the top, especially when you are considered the face of the organization to some extent. He also went on to say to people that it was a privilege to follow him, when they were displeased with his humor and were unfollowing him.
He eventually came to his senses, within about 10 minutes of tweeting his original statement and said that he was putting himself on one week probation from twitter.
The UFC put out a statement saying how they were extremely displeased with Forrest and that he would be making a hefty donation, going through sensitivity training and volunteering at a victim’s shelter.
If he was anyone other than Forrest Griffin, he would have had his walking papers but apparently his lifetime contract even covers him for distasteful jokes.
Again another case of someone tweeting a rape joke, Former WEC Champion Miguel Angel Torres tweeted, “If a rape van was called a surprise van, more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.”
This time the UFC acted swiftly and handed Miguel his walking papers and called it a day.
But an outcry from the fans to bring him back, and that he was only tweeting something he saw on the Comedy Central Show Workaholics, combined with his long hours of volunteering at a victims shelter and his many public apologies caused the UFC to resign him within the month.
So after these cases I think it is completely clear that ZUFFA needs a clearer code of what you can and cannot say or post on Twitter.
As it stands right now the contract the fighters sign says in Section 9.1, ”Fighter shall conduct himself in accordance with commonly accepted standards of decency, social conventions and morals, and Fighter will not commit any act or become involved in any situation or occurrence or make any statement which will reflect negatively upon or bring disrepute, contempt, scandal, ridicule, or disdain to Fighter, the Identity of Fighter or any of Fighter’s Affiliates or any of its officers, managers, members, employees, or agents.
“Fighter’s conduct shall not be such as to shock, insult or offend the public or any organized group therein, or reflect unfavorably upon any current or proposed sponsor or such sponsor’s advertising agency, or any network or station over which a Bout is to be broadcast.”
Which is about as vague as you can be, and in world where 140 characters can mean being gainfully employed or out on the street, it pays to be direct, clear and precise.