Long gone are the wild, wild west days in MMA. It is 2016 and the sport is arguably at an all-time high with the major TV deals and endorsements from some of the biggest companies in the world. Along with the great success and exposure the sport is currently receiving after many years of scratching and clawing its way to where it is today, comes an immense responsibility of acting like one of the biggest sport entities on the planet. One of those responsibilities includes keeping employees, which in this particular case would be the fighters, relatively out of the headlines for the wrong reasons.
An arrest for allegedly hitting a strip-club employee with a pistol falls right into the category of bad press.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what featherweight fighter Diego Brandao has been charged with after an altercation at a gentlemen’s club in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M. After some of the details started to pour out, the UFC quickly released the troubled fighter, who is still under suspension due to a positive test for marijuana following his fight against rising contender Brian Ortega.
The UFC did what most major sports company typically do in situations like these to protect their public image. With the rumors of a UFC sale imminent — or, at the very least, rumored to be at the stage of deep conversations — incidents like Brandao pistol-whipping people at a strip club are simply unacceptable. In an era where the UFC is in partnership with brands like Fox and Reebok, the organization must do everything and anything to protect its brand.
We’ve seen plenty of talented players who were dropped from their respective teams, and sometimes an entire sport, for some of the foolishness they have taken part in outside the playing realm. If the UFC is going to keep pushing the envelope and continue to strike deals with some of the biggest brands around the world, the company simply cannot employ troublemakers like Brandao.
There have been some fighters who have had their names linked to some embarrassing incidents. Generally, the UFC does a great job of waiting for the details to emerge before acting on impulse to ensure it gives the fighter a fair trial, for lack of better words. This can sometimes backfire, but it can sometimes keep a guy around who was wrongly accused, at least according to the evidence. The point here is that the UFC does its due diligence to get things right. This was again the case with Brandao. Once evidence started to pile up against the Brazilian fighter, the UFC wasted little time in severing its relationship with him.
There have been some instances where the UFC can be criticized for playing favorites, and rightfully so. Most notably, this occurred with the recent troubles of former light heavyweight king Jon Jones. We don’t need to rehash everything that has transpired with Jones over the last year or so. The point is, people who make a company more money than others usually have a longer leash. That equation may not be fair, but that is a topic for a different time. Difficult as it may be to accept, that is just how most of the real world works. If you are a big star and make the company a boatload of cash while headlining events, you might be able to get away with some stuff that would bring the end of career for a guy who fights on the Fight Pass prelims.
Brandao is not a huge moneymaker for the UFC, and the UFC did the right thing by releasing him. When your juice isn’t worth the squeeze anymore, a company moves on quickly. This is especially true when that juice involves beating people up at a strip club with the end of your pistol.