Mother Jones Writer Claims MMA Has ‘Long And Sordid Relationship With White Supremacists.’

Does mixed martial arts have a “long and sordid relationship with white supremacists”?

If it does — as was claimed in the Mother Jones article “The Terrifying Rise of Alt-Right Fight Clubs” — then it’s certainly news to anyone who who has followed the sport.

“If” is the operative word here because the author, Bryan Schatz, never offers any proof to support his controversial claim. Maybe white supremacists and mixed martial arts do have a history together. Maybe they don’t. All we are left with is an unsupported claim.

I would consider the claim highly suspect, though. Mixed martial arts has always been a multicultural sport. After all, the original idea behind MMA was to test martial arts from all over the world against each other. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, judo — all of these arts came into the mixed martial arts cage, and they were represented by people as diverse as the arts themselves.

MMA also has its roots in vale tudo, a unarmed, full contact style of fighting that began in Brazil — not exactly a place you’re going to find much white supremacy.

Mixed martial arts also has numerous, non-white champions: Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, Anderson “The Spider” Silva, Jon “Bones” Jones…and that’s just the UFC.

It’s also hard to claim that MMA has a long history with white supremacy considering MMA doesn’t have a long history at all!  Mixed martial arts is far younger than baseball, football, basketball, and other popular American sports. Only in the last 20 years or so has it grown significantly in popularity, and it is still far smaller than most of the sports Americans enjoy.

This isn’t the only highly questionable claim Schatz makes in his article, either. He claims that Bellator is “a feeder league for the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).”

First of all, Mr. Schatz, it’s “the Ultimate Fighting Championship.” No “s”.

Second, I would bet Bellator owner Scott Coker — who is Korean, by the way — would take quite a bit of offense at anyone calling his promotion a “feeder league” for his biggest competitor. Imagine the reaction you’d get if the CEO of Pepsi heard you call his organization a “feeder for Coke.”

Third, far from being a feeder, Bellator has taken plenty of the UFC’s fighters. Chael Sonnen, Rory MacDonald, Phil Davis, and Ryan Bader are all former UFC fighters fighting in Bellator.

Granted, as the biggest MMA promotion out there, the UFC is probably the promotion all fighters — be they in Bellator or The Professional Fighters League — want to get into. But it is certainly not a feeder.

With all of that said, if there is a “terrifying rise” in white supremacist fight clubs, then MMA fighters should stand together in solidarity and show these hate mongers that there is no place for them in this sport. Mixed martial arts is, after all, one of the most progressive sports on television right now. Not only does it have a multicultural background, but it is one of the most sexually progressive sports out there. What other sport do you see women headlining cards? What other sports do you see so many proudly homosexual competitors — e.g., reigning UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes and former title contender Liz Carmouche?

Certainly not in basketball, football, or any other sport Americans enjoy watching.

Mixed martial arts needs to continue its progressive streak.

But just as important, its critics need to get their facts straight.

I’m looking at you, too, Meryl Streep!


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