If 10 days ago you told me Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Matt Brown was getting ready to unleash a podcast on the world titled "Legit Man Shit," I must admit I would have been intrigued.
After all, this is the same Matt Brown whose masculinity was once so fawned-over by his fellow castmates on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 7, they spoke of him in the reverent tones usually reserved for the exploits of 80's action star Chuck Norris.
When a bunch of ultra-competitive ass kickers are saying things like,"The reason newborn babies cry is because they know they've just been born into a world with Matt Brown in it," then you know this fella must be pretty damn manly.
However, it looks as though I won't get a chance to hear "The Immortal's" no doubt truly edifying take on such legit manly topics as huntin,' fishin,' chawin,' tabbacky, the best gun rack for a pickup truck and the eternally raging "Icehouse vs. Milwaukee's Best Ice" debate. You see, Brown stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy by getting a little too legit on the debut episode of the LMS podcast, and has since taken it down (or perhaps been forced to take it down by UFC).
That will happen when you offhandedly suggest your female co-workers show up for work topless.
Turns out Brown isn't a fan of female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters plying their trade in UFC. You know that UFC 168 co-main event between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate? The one that had fans in the MGM Grand Garden Arena going wild and giving both women multiple standing ovations?
Well, that wasn't really Brown's thing.
However, if Rousey and Tate had ditched their sports bras prior to competing? Well, then the self-styled arbiter of all things legit and manly might have been down with paying $60 to watch the two women lock horns in the Octagon.
Or as "The Immortal" himself put it, "If I'm [going] to pay $60 for a pay-per-view to watch women fight they should at least be topless."
Obviously, we're not dealing with a modern day Cicero here.
While Brown doubtlessly meant the line as a throwaway joke, he probably didn't understand how much disrespect he was showing female mixed martial artists.
Now, I'm not exactly someone who spends a lot of time thinking about gender politics -- Vladimir Nabokov is much more my speed than bell hooks -- but even I can see there's an issue when someone starts talking about female fighters as if the only thing of value they bring to the table is sex appeal.
If you think about it, putting aside the obvious issue of gender inequality, suggesting a person's body is the best thing they have going for them on the job is a pretty crummy thing for one human being to say about another.
Female fighters like Rousey, Tate and others may at times show a little skin to get on magazine covers and garner attention for themselves, but that doesn't mean their accomplishments inside the cage should be denigrated by suggesting a woman's only place on a fight card is serving as T&A.
Within the context of a UFC event, these women are competing as athletes, and deserved to be regarded as such. UFC isn't WWE, where unskilled but centerfold-ready women get in the ring and put on sloppy wrestling matches. If it was, then Arianny Celeste would be rolling around with Brittney Palmer in an Octagon shaped mud pit on every show.
That's a far cry from two Olympic medalists like Rousey and Sara McMann headlining the upcoming UFC 170 on Feb. 22, 2014.
To no one's surprise, it wasn't long until UFC went into damage control mode with regards to Brown's comments. Late Thursday night (Jan. 9, 2014) the company issued the following statement:
Matt Brown has apologized for the comments made on his podcast, and we have addressed the matter with him. His comments don't reflect the views of the UFC. There'€™s no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. The UFC is built on principles of respect, and any statements to the contrary are not acceptable.
It wasn't long before "The Immortal" followed suit, in a statement that sounds a lot more like it was written by a publicist than a man who once sent an entire house of cage fighters into paroxysms of fear when he tried to find out which of them had stolen his can of Skoal:
"I have spoken with the UFC about the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and what is required and expected of me as a professional athlete under the terms of my promotion agreement. The UFC has a policy of inclusion and respect for all people and I understand the importance of being more aware of my actions and words."
Brown played it smart by swallowing his pride in a most un-Chuck Norris like fashion, apologizing to his employers and taking down the ill-fated debut installment of "Legit Man Shit." However, he would have been a whole lot smarter had he thought twice before bumping his gums about how female fighters are only worthwhile if they are also serving as eye candy.
It's not like there haven't been plenty of precedents to illustrate that saying something offensive in a public forum probably isn't the smartest thing to do while on the UFC roster. Just ask Miguel Torres, Matt Mitrione and Nate Diaz to name just a few fighters who have landed in hot water over making boneheaded remarks in recent years.
And before anyone spouts off with the, "What about free speech?" argument, let me just cut you off at the pass. The First Amendment certainly guarantees fighters like Brown the right to say whatever they want. However, it doesn't limit an employer's ability to reprimand an employee who says something that reflects poorly upon the company.
Therein lies the rub: If you're a UFC fighter, every time you're speaking, writing or tweeting in a public forum you're not just representing yourself; you're also -- whether you like it or not -- representing UFC.
That means it's probably not the best idea to be spouting off sexist nonsense about female fighters, especially when the person who may just be UFC's biggest star at the moment, Rousey, happens to be a woman.
Hopefully, Brown gets the message and chooses his words a little more carefully in the next installment of "Legit Man Shit." After all, I'm dying to hear "The Immortal's" take on that time Arnold Schwarzenegger blew all those dudes away outside that South American dictator's villa in the 1985 cinematic tour de force "Commando."(Warning: don't click this link if you're at work, or if you're a dishrag-armed wimp whose weak stomach can't stand the sight of a jacked Austrian bodybuilder killing hundreds of criminals in a quintessentially 80's quest to free his kidnapped daughter).
Now that was some legit man shit.