Three “Huh?” Moments in MMA Last Week: Scamming Oleinik, Fighter Safety, and Covington’s Racism

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Aleksei Oleinik UFC
Aleksei Oleinik Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

An MMA heavyweight’s identity was used in a scam, a fighter spoke up about competing during a pandemic, and racism is being tolerated in the UFC. Huh?

Finding the proper response to much of the news finding its way into our social media feeds is becoming a tougher task every day. Nothing is surprising anymore, and there’s always more to the story. Leaving us with one reply: “huh?”

Last week, Colby Covington continued to be racist and the UFC still isn’t doing anything about it, scammers pretended to be Aleksei Oleinik, and Ketlen Vieira shared some widely felt feelings about fighting, and life, during a pandemic. Huh.

The reason “huh?”, in its various forms, is such a quality reply is simple. The word is as versatile as a response gets, and while it may require some explanation, “huh?” is sometimes the only way to react to the news of today. Defined by Merriam-Webster as an interjection that’s “used to express surprise, disbelief, or confusion, or as an inquiry inviting affirmative reply”, “huh” or “huh?” can mean a lot of different things.

Despite some of the follies of evolution (see: home drone security), the development and growth of “huh” is something we should embrace. To be the change we want to see in the world, here are a few MMA stories last week that made us go “huh?

Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley, UFC Vegas 11
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on September 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The UFC is cool with Colby Covington’s racism

This one didn’t even really need a “huh.” In the hours and days since his victory over Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington showcased his favorite personal attribute: being racist. And the promotion is totally cool with it.

“Who did you get a call from? Did you get a call from, freaking, your little tribe? Did they give you some smoke signals for you?” Covington shouted (while on ESPN). “You’re a joke, Marty Fakenewsman!” – via MMA Fighting

These comments directed at UFC welterweight champion and Nigeria-native Kamaru Usman after the Woodley bout were generally met with disgust, while others preferred to play dumb. Insert: UFC President Dana White.

“These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs,” White said. “We don’t muzzle anybody here. We let everybody speak their mind. I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said.” – via Sporting News

This is a really dumb thing to say, and even dumber to believe. It also simultaneously says a lot while not really saying anything. It shows us that Dana, and the promotion, would prefer to let Covington spew his racist trash than to hold him accountable for his actions. Or, they agree with his sentiment and don’t see a problem with it.

While that should feel like a shocking statement, anyone who’s followed the UFC’s public relationships with their fighters in the past will know this reaction is anything but a surprise. The promotion’s “Code of Conduct” is clearly a farce, and only implemented when Dana and Co. see fit.

This story resonated particularly strongly last week, as no charges were filed against the Louisville police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor. In a time where race relations and overt societal and systemic racism are in the national spotlight, the UFC is deciding to stand with Covington, and choosing to be on the wrong side of history.

Of course, Covington has since doubled-down. Some can call it “working his gimmick to perfection.” At this point, it’s not a gimmick anymore. Claiming “it’s a joke” or “it’s just fight promotion” isn’t a worthwhile defense. It’s a bad excuse for abhorrent behavior, and an alarmingly uncreative “gimmick,” which Dana White, and the UFC, are fully supporting.

1 COMMENT

  1. “UFC is deciding to stand with Covington, and choosing to be on the wrong side of history”

    the most ignorant argument in existence…as if you have any idea what history will end up being…so far Colby’s popularity and success would show he’s on the *right* side of history

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