NBA and MLB have comprehensive policies on domestic violence and abuse.
MMA promotions lag behind most other major sports when it comes to domestic violence policies for athletes. It’s time for that to change.
The NBA and the NBA Players Association (NBPA) have a “joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.” MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association(MLBPA) have a similar policy. The NFL does not have a specific domestic violence policy. Still, it has a personal conduct policy that addresses “actual or threatened physical violence against another person, including dating violence, domestic violence, child abuse, and other forms of family violence.”
Each of these policies is detailed in its coverage. Some of the topics covered in the documents — in addition to the expected potential punishment — are training and education, treatment and intervention, investigation of incidents, family resources and how athletes can return to active status following a suspension.
In the aftermath of UFC president Dana White slapping his wife on New Year’s Eve while on a family vacation in Mexico, the UFC and other MMA promotions need to take steps to catch up to the NBA and MLB in getting a written in policy in place regarding domestic violence.
The UFC Fighter Code of Conduct mentions domestic violence, but it only does so in passing. That document states:
“Discipline may be imposed for misconduct, which includes without limitation the following examples:
“Criminal offenses including, but not limited to, those involving: the use or threat of violence; domestic violence and other forms of partner abuse; theft and other property crimes; sex offenses; obstruction or resisting arrest; disorderly conduct; fraud; racketeering; and money laundering.”
In the first month of 2023 alone, there were multiple cases of violence against women involving current and former UFC fighters and personalities:
January 1: UFC vet Cain Carrizosa was arrested after another domestic violence incident, with the victim suffering repeated seizures likely from head trauma.
January 2: Footage is released of Dana White slapping his wife during NYE.
January 2: UFC vet Phil Baroni was arrested for allegedly murdering his girlfriend in Mexico.
January 10: Police reports came to light showing UFC vet Tony Martin being arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman.
January 23: UFC vet Raulian Paiva was arrested for domestic violence.
January 24: Reports came out that Conor McGregor was sued for allegedly assaulting another woman. The accuser’s car was then also set on fire in Dublin in a suspected arson.
Even in the years prior, there’s been a long and concerning history of domestic violence cases, with the UFC having mixed results in dealing with those incidents.
As for White’s case, the UFC president has faced zero repercussions from the UFC’s owners —Endeavor — or its broadcast partners at Disney/ESPN and TBS. White’s punishment, at least according to him, is “I have to walk around for however long I live… and this is how I’m labeled now. The punishment is that I did it, and now I have to deal with it.”
White followed that claim by saying that punishing him would only hurt the UFC, its fighters and its employees, which was a stunningly narcissistic response from anyone, even someone as self-important as White, who once described himself as a “fight genius” and “promotion genius.”
If the UFC — and the other major MMA promotions — put together and published comprehensive and detailed domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policies that cover fighters and employees, it would go a long way toward showing that the promotion is more than just an organization that takes the by now debunked stance that it has a “zero-tolerance” policy and that “no one bounces back from putting their hands on a woman.”
The MLB policy is a lengthy 13 pages. That document is a good blueprint for the UFC and other MMA promotions to follow, as it states early on:
takes an absolute stand against domestic violence, sexual assault and child
– protects the legal and procedural rights of Players;
– provides assistance to victims and families, especially information and referrals
to available resources;
– recognizes that Players may also be the victims in intimate relationships;
– focuses on education and prevention, including training on this policy;
– utilizes the most effective methods and resources for therapeutic intervention
for abusers and those abused; and
– allows for therapeutic programs for Players and for the imposition of
appropriate discipline on Players.
It’s not just about White, who will likely emerge without facing any repercussions, as there’s been a concerning history of people in the sport being violent towards women and their partners.
The UFC, along with the other MMA promotions, truly needs to shore up its weak and ineffective policies and make a statement. That includes taking steps as far as education and training. Anything short of that will be business as usual for the organization and from what we’ve seen over the years, that’s not good enough.
Bloody Elbow reached out to UFC, Bellator and PFL regarding their specific domestic violence policies. None of the promotions responded to our request.