The ban hammer has come down on Jackson-Wink photographer Mark Aragon, and he’ll be denied access to future UFC events.
UFC 219 was arguably the biggest win of UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg’s career. Defending her 145lb title against Holly Holm, she put on a valiant title defense in a back-and-forth bout against the toughest opponent of her long career. However, what should have been a celebration turned to controversy in the days following the bout after a member of Holm’s gym, Mark Aragon, referred to Cyborg as “he” and “dude” on social media following the Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter’s loss.
In a since deleted post to Instagram, Aragon wrote that
“This dude is tough as hell! That being said at the press conference he said Holly was the first one to make his nose bleed! You are my hero @hollyholm see you back in the gym. #ufc219”
Cyborg immediately took notice, calling for an apology, or for the UFC to ban the photographer.
It is not acceptable for an official representative of @hollyholm @jacksonwink_mma to call me transgender following my Fight. Their official photographer was given a backstage credential to attend the @UFC and I expect an apology or their ability to get credentials for future UFC events to be affected by these actions. @ma2_media 🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷 Não é aceitável que um representante oficial da @hollyholm @jacksonwink_mma me ligue transgênero na sequência da minha luta. Seu fotógrafo oficial recebeu uma credencial de bastidores para participar do @UFC e espero que uma desculpa ou sua capacidade de obter credenciais para futuros eventos do @ufc_brasil sejam afetadas por essas ações.
An apology, of sorts, was forthcoming. Aragon, who also serves as a social media manager for the famed Jackson-Wink MMA, spoke of the motivation behind his comments. In a post to Instagram, he recounted that Cyborg had laughed at a photo of her toe striking Holm in the eye following the pair’s UFC 219 bout. He also wrote that he was “extremely frustrated with the perception that Cyborg and her fans had painted us [Jackson-Wink] as cheaters and losers” – a reference to comments about drug testing Cyborg had made in the lead-up to the fight.
Ultimately, the apology, such as it was, was not enough to satisfy the UFC. In a statement initially sent to MMA Fighting, the promotion said that “UFC is aware and troubled with the recent statements made by a social media representative from the JacksonWink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico as it concerns women’s featherweight champion, Cris Cyborg.”
“UFC does not condone or tolerate the remarks that were used. The organization has reached out to the JacksonWink team to inform them that the individual in question will not be granted access for future events.”
Interestingly enough, this is far from the first time attacks on Cyborg’s gender have been made. Most significantly, UFC Present Dana White once referred to the featherweight star as “Wanderlei Silva in a dress.” Back in 2014, then-bantamweight champion and top UFC star Ronda Rousey referred to Cyborg as an “it” rather than a woman.
Now, the UFC is stuck policing the situation that it itself fostered when key company figures began lobbing gender-based attacks against Cris Cyborg.