I’m sure I am late with these quotes but I was traveling all day and WordPress’ publishing tool doesn’t work well with my crappy T-Mobile Sidekick II (that’s why my plans for live updates last night never happened… I need an iPhone!).
When I got to the airport this morning I picked up a copy of the Las Vegas Sun and it had a lot of coverage of UFC 74. On the front of the sports page was a story on Randy’s win and then a column by Ed Graney titled: “Sobral takes Ultimate Fighting to ultimately ugly level.”
Just the press I am sure the UFC was looking for from one of its hometown papers!
According to Graney, NSAC is withholding $25,000 of Sobral’s purse (it amounts to 50%) pending a hearing.
As for the match itself, it was a bloodbath. One of the bloodiest fights I’ve seen in years. I thought I was going to be sick at one point (and I have a strong stomach). In response to the blood, Sobral is quoted as saying “It looked like he (Heath) had his period.”
What the hell is wrong with him?
UFC president Dana White addressed the situation during a post-fight press conference and to be honest, I was completely underwhelmed by his stance.
“It was a chicken shit move to hold the choke,” Graney quotes White as saying.
Okay, we’re off to a nice start.
“You just don’t do stuff like that. I would imagine the commission would have something to say,” he continued.
Huh? Dana, do YOU have anything to say (other than it’s chicken shit)? I mean, it is your fight promotion after all.
“I’m going to talk to (Sobral) and tell him it was an (expletive, expletive, expletive) move,” said White. “One of the things people like about this sport is honor. When you do stuff like that, you become a bad guy. People not liking you is not a good thing. I’ll tell you what, if he would have had hold of a leg or arm and could have done real damage to (Heath) and pulled that crap, I would have cut him from the (UFC) roster immediately.”
What the hell is going on here? Dana is right about a lot of things (and I know some of you will disagree, but let’s focus on the issue here) but could he be more wrong on this one? Yes, I realize it was only a blood choke and no permanent damage was done. I’ve been choked out enough times to know the difference. BUT THE PRINCIPLE IS THE SAME! If you look at the intent then whether Babalu had a hold of his neck, arm, leg, pinkie, testicles, or whatever, it doesn’t make a difference. It just so happened he got a hold of the neck. If he had gotten an arm, do you think he would have used any discretion? Malice is malice.
It’s just bad for the sport and Dana should re-watch the footage and reconsider his stance. I open up the Sun today and the coverage is split between Randy’s incredible win and Babalu’s crazy little stunt. All that coverage could have been focused entirely on Randy and the matches instead of this crap if Babalu had just shown a shred of honor. Now that it’s in the Sun, it can be picked up by any major media outlet in the country and feed critics of MMA with some strong ammunition.
Dana fired Noah Thomas and Marlon Sims for a street fight because it made the sport and the UFC look bad. Well, this is waaay worse! Sims and Thomas both consented to that fight. Nobody got assaulted. Look, it was wrong and Dana addressed it properly. But this is more wrong and Dana’s stance is much softer. For all I know he could be pals with Sobral but if Babalu is Dana’s boy then Dana should be pissed that his friend showed his company no respect last night and left him hanging out to dry.
“I was knocked out, but after watching the replay, it was an (expletive) move for him not to (let up),” Heath is quoted as saying.
Sobral wasn’t done either.
“The ref has to jump in there sooner,” he said. “The crowd didn’t like it? Who cares? At least they had a reaction? (Heath) had enough blood, so maybe he could have gone another round.”
Dude, is Sobral on LSD or something? He’s so far from reality that it’s not even funny. His quotes in the post-fight interview and the post-fight press conference only make the incident look worse. If he had some a little bit of contrition, maybe this wouldn’t seem as bad. But he should be held accountable for his words in addition to his actions. It’s completely unprofessional and it makes things look like the UFC circa 1995.
Another thing as I bring this rambling rant to a close; Graney’s column was good. It was fair, but this was definitely not the positive press the UFC typically enjoys. Dana said a few weeks back that the Internet fan boy sites won’t hesitate to tear fighters and the sport of MMA down. Well, Graney writes for a “traditional” media outlet and he was none too kind. See, how it works is that if you do great stuff, the media will say you do great stuff. If you screw up, the media will say you screw up. That concept applies to blogs, dot.coms, newspapers, radio, television, etc. If anything, the mainstream media will come down harder on the UFC than the “fanboy” sites.
The UFC will continue to get bad press for this but they can’t control Babalu’s actions so you can only blame them so much. However, where blame can be assessed is how to handle his infraction. Right now, they aren’t handling it well. I wonder if they would have taken a harder-line stance had the match aired live on pay-per-view with millions watching instead of just tens of thousands (I’m not trying to be a smart ass, it’s a legitimate question)?
“White should do more than just talk to him. A suspension is on order. At least,” Graney wrote in his final words to close out the column.
Ed, I’ll just come out and say what you would have liked to have said but didn’t: Dana should have fired Babalu on the spot. What’s there to even think about?