MMA Junkie: Mitrione’s Fallon Fox rant misses difference between discussion and damnation

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Updated: April 9, 2013
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By: Ben Fowlkes

One thing we can say about the UFC’s response to Matt Mitrione’s rant against transgender fighter Fallon Fox on Monday is that it was as swift as it was decisive.

It was also probably a little confusing for Mitrione, who delivered his vitriolic monologue on Ariel Helwani’s “MMA Hour” like he was sure there’d be a standing ovation at the end. When he got a very different response from the UFC, which said it was “appalled” by Mitrione’s remarks and deemed them “offensive and wholly unacceptable” when it announced the suspension of his contract a few hours later, one can only imagine the shock he must have felt.

Remember, this wasn’t an off-the-cuff remark in an interview that strayed into unexpected territory. This was Mitrione’s semi-regular segment. It was his idea to talk about Fox. He wrote this stuff down. The first part anyway, before he was asked by a genuinely curious Helwani why he hated Fox so much. Then the really ugly stuff came out. The word “sociopath” was used. The phrase “disgusting freak” made an appearance. Just in case we were still wondering whether he really meant it, he followed it up by declaring, “And I mean that.”

Somewhere in a Las Vegas office building, a Zuffa executive’s ulcer throbbed out a warning.

Thanks to the magic of Twitter and internet comments, I know that Mitrione isn’t the only one who feels strongly about Fox’s participation in women’s MMA. I also know that there are a lot of fight fans who don’t think he deserved to be reprimanded for his remarks. After all, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan voiced his opposition to Fox’s fighting career on his podcast, and a lot of people agreed with him. Mitrione was one of those people, and he even referenced Rogan’s podcast on the subject when explaining why he decided to take this on. Rogan didn’t get into trouble with the UFC, so what gives? Can’t a fighter have an opinion anymore?

The answer is yes, but there’s a difference between having an opinion and being aggressively hateful about it. Mitrione’s apparent inability to understand that difference is what got him in trouble here.

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