If you blinked during the main event title fight between current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz this past weekend (Dec. 8, 2012) at UFC on FOX 5, you might have missed Diaz giving "Smooth" the bird.
That's because according to a FOX spokesperson (via MMA Fighting), the UFC production crew was "on the ball" and reacted quickly, cutting away from the live action for a split second to avoid airing the incident:
"It's not appropriate for air, but the folks in the UFC's production truck were on the ball. They cut away so quickly that it was virtually indiscernible to the naked eye. We regret even a small fraction of a second snuck through."
The UFC's quick reaction time may have avoided a public relations nightmare for the promotion, who was holding its fifth event on national television and was being broadcast to millions of homes.
Nate's behavior hasn't really caused a raucous throughout the MMA community, if anything, "Bendo's" toothpick drama has garnered much more interest and attention.
Theses types of antics aren't anything new from the flamboyant Diaz. In 2008, Nate flipped off the Spike TV cameras and flexed his muscles in celebration as he had Kurt Pellegrino locked up in an air-tight triangle choke that ended the 155-pound fight in the second round.
The middle finger salute seems to be a trademark of the Diaz brothers and normally doesn't ruffle many feathers, however, on such a big stage like FOX, there isn't a place for those kinds of gestures if they hope to maintain the level of honor and respect MMA is trying to portray to millions of potential new viewers.
You can bet UFC President Dana White will likely advise Nate, as well as the rest of his stable of fighters, to restrain from such actions in the future if he hopes to keep his relationship with FOX going smooth.
Should incidents like this, or "Bendo's" toothpick fetish, for that matter, be addressed by the higher ups at ZUFFA for future events?
Other major sports on FOX such as the NFL and MLB, more often than not, would likely penalize their professional athletes if such behavior occurred on air.
Should the UFC follow suit?