Women’s Groups Demand UFC Drop Fighter “Rampage” Jackson
5:00 pm, January 24th | by Colette McIntyre
Chicago women, local groups, and national organizations have joined together to demand that UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson be censured for repeatedly engaging in misogynistic behavior, including sexually harassing female reporters and posting a YouTube video that makes light of rape. In a letter sent to the UFC, FOX executives, and UFC sponsors, advocacy groups say that they want Rampage Jackson cut from the main card of Saturday’s UFC on FOX fight and for the UFC to adopt a “meaningful code of conduct.”
The world of MMA is very male-dominated — while the UFC signed its first female fighter in 2011, the organization has yet to start a women’s MMA division; thus, most MMA women function primarily as eye candy, working as ring girls or apparel models. Light heavyweight fighter Rampage Jackson clearly has no qualms with perpetuating the alpha male atmosphere surrounding his sport — in a three years, Jackson has sexually harassed three different female MMA journalists. In 2009, the fighter dry humped a Japanese reporter and Heather Nichols of Cage Potato when they were attempting to interview him. In 2011, Jackson tried to motor-boat MMA H.E.A.T reporter Karyn Bryant after his fight at UFC 130. In the video of the incident, Bryant tells Jackson that she is of Jamaican descent and he responds with “Well, Jamaican me horny.”
Jackson also makes a veiled sexual threat during his interview with Bryant, telling her that she “might want to get away” since he has just recently get out of a “long training camp.” Jackson’s boorish and offensive tendencies coalesced into a single, horrific YouTube video posted last April titled “How to Pick Up a Gurl…Fast.” In the video, Jackson suggests that his viewers buy zipties and chloroform to “help” their desired women “relax”; the video culminates with him pretending to rape a woman in a parking garage. Shockingly, the UFC didn’t reprimand Jackson for any of these actions.
Yet “Rampage” isn’t the only UFC fighter with a penchant for sexist comments: In 2011, Forrest Griffin tweeted “rape is the new missionary”, only apologizing after a rape victim publicly admonished him; that same year, Miguel Torres, a former bantamweight champion, posted a tweet that read, “If a rape van was called a surprise van more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.” While the offensive post led UFC officials to fire Torres, less than three weeks later it was announced that the fighter was returning to the organization’s fold. Torres was deemed appropriately remorseful — you see, he had donated money to local rape centers in his area. He was cured!
There is no doubt that the UFC needs to adopt a stronger institutional stance on crass behavior. In fact, the campaign to cut Jackson from his upcoming fight is illustrative of a larger wave of protest and condemnation that has surrounded the UFC of late. Earlier this month, the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence urged state assembly members in New York to uphold the state ban on professional mixed martial arts. The national organization argued that the UFC “contributes to a culture of violence against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” After public outcry, the U.S Marine Corps severed its ties with the UFC due to ”violent, homophobic, misogynistic and otherwise socially irresponsible remarks made by UFC fights and its president, Dana White.” Even Anheuser-Busch, a brewing company that is not exactly a bastion of sensitivity, reprimanded the fighting organization; in a statement, the beer-maker wrote, “We’ve communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act.”
This recent refusal to support the behavior of these UFC fighters is heartening; hopefully the UFC will take advocacy groups’ and their sponsor’s leads and make meaningful changes to their organization, their sexual harassment policies, and, in turn, the world of MMA. Hear that, dudes? Be nicer to the ladies and then you can all go back to hitting each other.