Anheuser-Busch have long been considered one of the UFC’s marquee sponsor’s, with ‘Bud Light’ being the official beer of the UFC, and as such they have a vested interest in what goes on both inside and outside of the Octagon which is emblazoned with their logo.
As such it appears that they have felt the need to speak out regarding a rise in the number of inappropriate comments from UFC fighters in recent times, and make it clear that they don’t condone that behavior.
“We’ve communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this,” Anheuser-Busch states in a press release issued today, before warning that, “If the incidents continue, we will act.”
Getting to the specifics, Anheuser-Busch make it clear that the company, “Embraces diversity and does not condone insensitive and derogatory comments rooted in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc.”
Responding to the statement, the UFC told advertising site Ad Age that, “With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don’t condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values,”
“Unlike most other sports leagues, we encourage our athletes to engage online. It is part of our company culture, and whenever you are at the forefront of a trend or initiative, it comes with its own pitfalls. We will continue to embrace social media while looking for better ways to stay in front of the issues. This includes a mandate for our athletes to attend sensitivity training and a seminar on proper use of social media.”
There’s no doubt that the UFC has had a significant problem in this area over the past few years and it does reflect badly not only on their sponsors, but on the sport as a whole.
Examples include Miguel Torres and Forrest Griffin making inappropriate jokes about rape on Twitter, Rashad Evans doing likewise at a UFC press conference, while others such as Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, color-commentator Joe Rogan and even UFC president Dana White have used homophobic slurs.
The promotion have attempted to address these issues – Torres for example was briefly released from the UFC after his comments, but in general there hasn’t been a consistent policy and it’s clear that it is a matter that they have to tackle more extensively and robustly in the future as they can’t afford to put major sponsorships with the likes of Budweiser at risk.