When we reported last month that the UFC had signed fighter Benjamin “The Hooligan” Brinsa, who had a pretty clear Google trail connecting him with neo-Nazi activity in Leipzig, Germany, I kinda wondered how something like this could happen. I mean, if people who call themselves Potatoes are the ones who have to come up with this information, then it seems like the UFC needs a Vice President of Fighter Googling. Dana White himself seems to double as Twitter Maven, but it seems like the UFC might be content to let this job outsource itself to the ranks of dubiously qualified (or in Fightlinker’s case, only qualified to shit on ourselves) bloggers. Now, over a month later, whatever investigation the UFC undertook is complete, and the promotion has decided to cut ties with Brinsa instead of booking him for a fight.
Nevertheless, after CagePotato broke the story of Brinsa’s alleged neo-Nazi connections, Brinsa flatly deined being a neo-Nazi. Occasionally sensitive to legal liability and/or fairness, UFC President Dana White initially took a level-headed approach, promising not to “jump the gun.” Now that the UFC has officially weighed in on the side of “he’s a Nazi,” it would be interesting to hear exactly how the call was made. Was there an actual thought process, or was a knee-jerk reaction simply delayed for a few weeks to avoid the appearance of summary execution?
In the end, this all makes me wonder exactly how close of ties someone needs to have with certain groups in order to be excluded from the extremely reputable job of cage fighter forever. I’ve wondered aloud about this before in the case of Brandon Saling, a fighter who was a white supremacist AND registered sex offender AND lied about it. In that case, the decision to not allow the fighter to compete anymore was easy, because Saling had lied about his criminal record on his fighter license application. But is it fair to exclude a professional fighter from making a living simply for having been associated with a certain group at one point in his life? What if he made mistakes in his youth but has since reformed himself?
It’s hard to see where the truth lies here, because even though the allegations against Brinsa centered around him being “associated with” certain people or “a member of” certain groups, pictures did surface of him hanging out with some people who sound like true assholes. Would it be right to insist that the UFC welcome anyone into the fold, regardless of the reason? No, not really, because the UFC is a company with a public image to worry about. But is it right to ostracize people from society in a quest to advocate politically correct ideals? That might make them less likely to stop being dicks in the future. Even though it would send a complicated message if the UFC were to promote Brinsa, it might actually increase ratings if Brinsa hammed it up and became a Nikolai Volkoff/Iron Sheik-type villain. In fact, that might be the UFC’s only remaining option to prop up its failing ratings.