Considering all of the colorful characters in mixed martial arts and the fact that it’s origins are as a fringe sport, it’s somewhat surprising that there aren’t more controversial comments made by MMA fighters on a daily basis.
That’s not to say that the MMA’s biggest promotion, the UFC, hasn’t had to scold some of its fighters – not to mention a most frequent sayer of things controversial, UFC president Dana White – for making politically incorrect, off the cuff remarks, as there have been plenty of controversies in that vein during the promotion’s history. From Michael Bisping and White using homophobic slurs to Frank Mir promising death to Brock Lesnar, several of the sport’s more prominent figures have found themselves in hot water for things they’ve said.
This week, The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner and former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin joined their ranks.
Griffin posted several jokes on the subject of rape to his Twitter account, including writing that “Rape is the new missionary”, which prompted an outraged response by most MMA media outlets. Though most fans remain on the uber-popular fighter’s side, making the argument that our society is simply too sensitive and that Griffin was just exercising free speech, the 32-year-old has been raked over the coals by several websites.
UFC president Dana White spoke to Mauro Ranallo for The Score about Griffin’s comments, revealing that the ever-sarcastic light heavyweight was responding to the treatment of rape in general news, commenting on the fact that it has become commonplace for news outlets to loudly run sordid stories about rape.
“It wasn’t a joke. I’m glad you asked me that question. What happened was, I contacted Forrest and Forrest is a mess now about this whole thing,” said White (props to Bloody Elbow for the transcription). “Believe me, take it from a guy who has been in this situation. What happened was, Forrest Griffin said he woke up that morning and turned on his television and the whole thing about (Joe) Paterno and what’s going on over there at Penn State, he said he literally switched the channel to another channel and they were talking about a woman who had been raped. The third channel he went to was another story about rape. His thing was that ‘rape is the new missionary,’ like it’s vanilla, like it’s normal. When you change the channel it’s on every channel. …you don’t go out on Twitter where you can only do so many characters and say something like that. Then once everyone started attacking him, he started attacking back on Twitter. It’s one of those situations. Let me tell you what man, I’m the first guy who always says ‘people will make mistakes’ and this and that will happen. Forrest Griffin is a very, very good human being.”
Many news outlets seek to attract readers by making bold condemnations of sports figures, calling for their heads to be put on pikes over less-than-grave offenses (see: the Rampage/Karyn Bryant motorboat scandal). White’s assessment of the situation is just about spot on: Forrest Griffin is often sardonic, he is rarely mean-spirited or cruel. Making the comments that he made may have been insensitive, clearly offended many and probably warrants an apology, but it doesn’t make Forrest Griffin a bad person.