UFC Issues Code Of Conduct For Fighters Following Latest Embarrassing Comments
UFC yesterday “publicly released its official Fighter Code of Conduct,” and its aim is not to punish violators but "to educate and prevent embarrassments," according to Kevin Iole of YAHOO SPORTS. Among the things the code covers are “usage of performance enhancing drugs, criminal offenses, unlawful possession of a gun or other weapon, violent, threatening or harassing behavior; conduct that presents danger to the safety of another; intimidation; and any conduct that undermines the UFC.” The MMA promotion based its policy "upon similar codes" used in the NFL, MLB and NHL, and was aided in its development by DC-based law firm Covington & Burling. UFC Exec VP & General Counsel Lawrence Epstein said, “We’re trying, hopefully, to push guys in the right direction and make sure they’re being respectful and not being disrespectful to any race, gender, etc.” Iole notes UFC has been “plagued by a series of thoughtless comments in social media over the last few years that were meant as jokes but which came off as anything but.” By publicly releasing the standard of conduct it “expects from its fighters, the UFC has taken a strong step toward reducing the flippant comments that create a media sensation and which slow the business of arranging and promoting fights.” One such example occurred Monday, when fighter Matt Mitrione “ripped into transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox." UFC later that day “quickly denounced Mitrione's words and announced his indefinite suspension.” UFC co-Chair & CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said that the move “doesn't mean he'll be cut, or suspended long-term, or even fined.” But UFC will “review the incident and, at the very least, try to educate Mitrione about why his comments were harmful.” Iole notes the code of conduct is a “good first step, but the key to its success is whether the company is vigilant in enforcing it and educating the athletes about their mistakes.” Iole: “Hopefully, the upshot of the code of conduct’s implementation is far less tasteless jokes, far less PED usage and far more enlightened behavior” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/10).