UFC fighter Fabricio Werdum called fellow UFC fighter Tony Ferguson a “faggot” when the two mixed it up at a news conference to promote UFC 216 in Los Angeles on Thursday. Moments later, Ferguson replied with the same slur.
Werdum and Ferguson, who fight in different weight classes, got into it when they both were at a media table answering questions and Werdum interrupted Ferguson.
“When I’m talking, you shut your mouth,” Ferguson replied in Spanish, in a video posted by MMA Fighting.
“Shut your mouth, you fucking faggot,” Werdum responded, using a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish. "Don’t talk to me like that, that’s not how it works. You can talk like that to your division but with me you can’t talk like that, faggot.”
Werdum used the Spanish word “maricon,” a common gay slur, several times.
As Werdum left the interview table, Ferguson kept talking.
"Obviously, I'm getting to some people," Ferguson said. "Which is good. I told you all, they're not going to like me when I get to this spot [as a UFC fighter]. And I said it." Then, gesturing to Werdum, he said in Spanish: "este maricon" ("this faggot”).
After the incident, Werdum gave his version of events to MMA Fighting, where he acknowledged saying “fuck” a couple of times, but he omitted the “faggot” part. Ferguson’s use of the slur one time seemed more off-handed but it still is not acceptable, even if you think the other guy started it.
“As we all know behavior like this usually warrants a suspension or fine in most major sports,” an Outsports reader wrote us in alerting us to the video. “In MMA, this thing often gets swept under the rug and ignored. It would be nice to see this get some press and maybe force the UFC to answer for once when its fighters drop words like ‘bitch’ and ‘faggot’ like they have no repercussions. Which in the UFC, they usually don't and that's why it's so common.”
The reader is correct. Werdum and Ferguson need to be disciplined as they would in any pro or college sports league.
The UFC last year did a good thing by selling rainbow-colored LGBT pride shirts to benefit a gay center in Las Vegas. It could show that its commitment to LGBT awareness was not a one-off by taking action against Werdum and Ferguson.
The UFC needs to have zero tolerance for such slurs and not excuse it like some commenters on the MMA Fighting story have.