Why Miguel Torres was Fired When Forrest and Rashad Weren’t

December 9, 2011
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UFC president Dana White

Miguel Torres’ firing by the Ultimate Fighting Championship has sparked an unprecedented response by fans and the media, both in support and in criticism, but the move by the Las Vegas-based fight promotion is hardly anomalous.

Employees losing their jobs for comments made on social media platforms is common. In fact, Torres isn’t the first UFC fighter to be handed his pink slip for comments made on a social media site. War Machine, born Jonathan Koppenhaver, was fired in 2008 after posting on his Myspace page that he thought the late Evan Tanner committed suicide, despite the investigation into his death ruling otherwise.

Penalties and firings for Twitter posts have been all over the headlines, almost as long as Twitter has existed.

The NBA fined Orlando Magic guard Gilbert Arenas in June for posting tweets that degraded women and compared them to slaves.

Last month, Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison was fined $500,000 for comments he made on the labor negotiations during the NBA lockout.

In September, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves called IndyCar race director Brian Barnhart a “circus clown” on Twitter and was fined $30,000 and put on probation.

Aflac fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried in March for comments made about the Japan tsunami.

Torres recently tweeted, “If a rape van was called a surprise van, more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.”

When the remark was brought to the attention of UFC president Dana White, he promptly fired Torres.

The critics of the UFC’s actions are calling for consistency. Torres isn’t the first UFC employee to make offensive remarks on Twitter. Former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin recently tweeted twice about rape.

On Nov. 8, Griffin tweeted, “Rape is the new missionary.” The comment that appeared to be meant as a joke quickly drew attention and criticism. Griffin removed the tweets and issued an apology. He later made a donation to a rape victims charity.

The organization recently offered a Twitter incentive to fighters, encouraging them to use Twitter more. $5,000 bonuses were handed out for most followers, highest percentage of growth in followers, and most creative tweets. Griffin received a bonus in the most creative tweets category.

On Wednesday, at a press conference to promote the UFC on Fox 2 card, Rashad Evans referenced the situation at Penn State surrounding assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and his alleged sexual assault on children during an exchange with his opponent and Penn State alum Phil Davis.

Davis mentioned that Evan’s former training partner Jon Jones questioned his chin.

“You’re going to have to find out for yourself. I bet you won’t be able to put your hands on me, though. I bet you’ll be the first one to take a shot. I guarantee you’ll be the first one to take a shot,” Evans said. “Cause I’m going to put those hands on you worse than that dude did to them other kids at Penn State.”

Following the press conference, White met with Evans and discussed the contentious comments. “He said something stupid, probably one of the dumbest things you can say. He gets it. He knows it was a stupid thing to say,” said White after the UFC 140 pre-fight press conference in Toronto.

White explained to MMAFighting his reasoning for letting Torres go and the difference between his situation and what Griffin and Evans did.

“I thought this was offensive. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and stupid, and I’m sure offensive to many people,” White told Ariel Helwani about Torres‘ firing.

“There have been cases here where things have happened that people have been offended by some of the things that the fighters have said. We have the Forrest Griffin incident, we’ve got the Rashad Evans incident, and now the Miguel Torres incident. The way that I handle these things with guys is, we’re all going to make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes,” said White.

“We don’t come out at the UFC with these canned statements that are written by our lawyers. We handled everything on a case-by-case basis with the idea that people are going to make mistakes and it’s how you handle yourself after you make that mistake.”

On the surface the situations look to be extremely similar, but with drastically different disciplinary measures taken by the fight promotion. Dig down to the next stratum and the incidents aren’t at all similar outside of the three incidents being about fighters publicly making offensive comments.

“The thing that happened with Forrest Griffin, just to walk everybody through the history of this, so we can really understand what’s going on. Forrest Griffin sent a tweet that said, ‘rape is the new missionary.’ Okay? So when I call him… I call these guys and I’m like I can’t wait to hear this one. Let’s see how he’s going to make sense of this.

“When I called him, he said when he woke up in the morning he turned on the television and the Sandusky thing was happening, right. He switched the channel and literally the next news channel was talking about a woman who was raped in Las Vegas in one of the hotel rooms. He changed the channel and the third channel that he went to was a completely different rape. So his thing was, you never used to see this stuff or hear about it on TV and now it’s so, every channel, they are talking about rape. It’s the new missionary,” explained the UFC president.

“Forrest chose the wrong forum to do it on Twitter where there’s only so many characters. You can’t explain yourself and it can be taken out of context. How Forrest handled that after… First of all when I called him, I had no idea how he could make sense out of this, but he did,” said White. “In no way, shape or form was he joking or being light-hearted about rape or anything like that.”

Rashad Evans’ situation is acutely different than Torres’ or Griffin’s. Evans said exactly what he meant to say. It wasn’t a joke. He wasn’t taken out of context. But an onion has many layers.

“This thing that happened yesterday in Chicago with Rashad Evans, again, another intelligent guy. Him and (Phil) Davis get into this heated back-and-forth. Davis went to Penn State. Rashad wrestled for Michigan and Rashad wanted to stick it to him and Penn State, so he had said the Sandusky thing.” White told MMAFighting.

“Obviously a dumb thing to say in the heat of the moment, but he said, ‘listen, this is why I said it. I went after him.’ Okay, I can make sense of that,” added White.

It’s intent that separates Torres from Griffin and Evans. Intent is why he is unemployed today and Evans and Griffin received no disciplinary action.

“It was just a joke, and that’s not a funny joke to me. That’s not, it’s just not something you tweet,” said White about the Torres situation. “If that’s your sense of humor, keep it at home around your buddies and keep it to yourself. It’s not something you put out on Twitter. And there’s no explanation for it. I can’t make any sense of it.”

White isn’t going to start monitoring his fighters’ social media interactions, but he did have some advice for them or anyone using social media sites.

“When you’re getting ready to twitter, or you’re getting ready to say something, think about what you’re going to say. Think about what you’re going to tweet and use a little common sense.”

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  • ProjectMelton

    I can kind of understand the Forrest explanation. In that context, it does seem like Griffin was trying to make a sardonic statement about a sad state of affairs, but did it in a really messed up manner.

    But Rashad? It was a college beef? So, it’s okay to make cracks about child rape as long as you don’t like the university where it happened. That’s a seriously lame justification.

  • dana white talked himself in circles trying to justify cutting torres…those justifications are paper thin…forrest makes a joke in bad taste regarding rape…torres does the same thing however his joke derived from a comedic TV sitcom…evans, the worst of the bunch, got flustered at a media press conference and made a reference to the brutal rape of 10 children…are you kidding me? bottom line is this…rashad and forrest are big MMA stars…they bring in PPV buys, especially evans…torres is a relatively unknown BW to the mainstream, hardcore fans know the deal, but hes not a huge draw…hes being made the scapegoat so the UFC can portray the image that they dont tolerate this sort of thing when in reality theyre full of crap…if it was fair across the board DW would have been fired 20 times over for crap hes said…didnt he berate a female journalist calling her a ****? sonnen would have been fired for his felony money laundering conviction, getting popped for PEDs in a championship fight, and lying to the NSAC, instead they wanted to reward with w/ a TUF coaching gig…rampage would have been fired for his high speed cop chase, crashing into ****…instead they reward him with a #1 contender fight, coaching gig on TUF and eventual title shot…its a 100% complete and utter double standard, no 2 ways about it…

  • (BS)!!!!!! Whether Griffin or Rashad could offer eloquent explanations of their “tweets” and Torres could not, that does not excuse any of them. Therefore, the only real explanation for this is that Dana White has his favorites and once again protected his investment, meaning Rashad and Forrest were in TUF, former champions, and are staples in the UFC. Torres was not on TUF. He came from WEC. Plus, he is a Hispanic guy. Dana is just being completely subjective on this. Of course, he can delineate and explain what he did. That’s what most corporate America CEO’s and administrators do!! All these other incidents that were listed on this article are (bs)!!! That’s what this country has become!! Sure you have freedom of speech, but we’re going to take your livelihood, your character and your spirit if you say things we do not approve of!! (BS)!!!!! People are just too ******* sensitive and they just need to suck it up and stop their whining!!!!! These guys are sportsman, athletes. They’re not beauty queens. They’re not angels. They’re not omnipotent!! They’re just humans and for some reason some idiots have taken upon themselves to make judgments and think they’re high and mighty and bring the hammer down whenever they feel like it. (BS)!!!!

  • 1mmafrk

    Dana Is double standard douche-bag. Let go of this bald moron for all the stupid things he has said over the years.

  • shaman

    Did I miss the part where Dana White goes into depth about the conversation he had with Torres?

    I saw the lengthy chats with Evans and Griffen… then it just drops off to his conclusion that he’s firing Torres

    Where’s the talk? Where’s HIS explanation mentioned?

    There’s no clear reasoning and I suppose White just thinks we’re all idiots that won’t notice his absolute lack of critical thinking

    If this thing sticks I hope Torres sues big. This is (bs) of a high order

    • KBEsq

      Totally agree with shaman. He sets up this expectation that we’re going to really find out the distinction between Torres and Rashad/Forrest, and he does nothing of the sort. They all involve stupid comments and bad decisions. The only way I would accept White’s distinction between the three is if he were to say something like, Torres had no remorse, and was unapologetic, or something like that. All he said was that he could understand the Forrest/Rashad comments after they were made, although he still felt they were in poor taste. What kind of distinction is that?

      Is it really deserving of a good and respectable fighter losing his livelihood?! I REALLY am starting to hate White. I used to like his honesty and bluntness, but him telling the fans to “shut up” because they wanted to see the Henderson/Guida fight on T.V., and his clear contempt for the fans of the sport has made me utterly hate him.

  • jared499

    I hate to say it, but I have to side with all the “Dana White Haters” on this one.

    There is not an excuse in the world that justifies one man losing his job for making the same sort of off the wall comments that others have made previously. I can not and will not accept that Dana has accepted the reasons of both Forrest and Rashad yet does not accept tht of Torres. First off in my opinion. The comment that Rahsad made about the PSU case was the most insensitive comment that I can think of. It was said to be funny, just as Torres’s comment, and it was not.

    Sorry Dana, but if Torres was either fighting for a number one contendar spot(Rashad) or the UFC Poster Boy(Forrest), he would not have been fired. You can not hold people to higher standards then others.

    If I were Torres I would be looking into legal actions for wrongful termination. Dana has stated in public the reasons for his termination and therefore I think that it should be easy to prove that Torres was fired for the exact same thing that others have done. Does anyone know if legally he has a case? Seems to me that even though the fighters are contracted that they should still fall under the employment rights section of the states.

    Screwed up on this on Dana and no amount of back talk can save this one. If Torres remains terminated then UFC should be terminating Forrest and Rashad as well.

    • MikeMc1983

      Rashads joke wasn’t funny? Maybe not to some. However I still judge whether something is funny or not by whether or not people laugh. The press conference seemed like it had to pause for about 20-30 seconds to the deafening laughter from the entire room could stop. Everyone in the room was laughing including both Dana, and Phil Davis. The comment was much more fitting in the context of the press conference than when written in an article.
      That conference was funny as hell with all those guys, and nothing got a bigger pop than rashads comment.

    • kevstinx

      I do not consider myself a hater of any form.
      But the ***** does not help himself, he appears like an angry piss head having a rant because **** didn’t go as expected, great thugish mentality!

  • phrankthetank

    I get keeping Forrest, I kinda get the Rashad thing, heat of the moment and all, but Torres gets fired because he has a twisted sense of humor? I agree the joke was in poor taste, but to fire him because of it? That’s almost as bad as when they fired Jon Fitch because he wouldn’t sign away lifetime rights to his likeness for free.

  • fsunoles09

    yep all yall nailed it bro evans shoulda been cut just for the simple fact he called out a particular incident and griffins explanation sounds to me like dana put em on the spot askin what he was thinkin and he just came up with that off the top of his head and dude that made the comments about evan tanner shoulda caught a decent ass beating after that. takes a piece of **** to say somethin like that about a man who cant defend his own integrity i hope this man is livin under a f’in bridge somewhere on the verge of death right now

  • fsunoles09

    ooo yea and i failed to say all that was with dana white logic on the torres situation i dont think any of em should lose their job except the guy about the tanner comment

  • Imalwaysright

    Im not a Dana White basher but he has said some really stupid things himself and still has a job…this is why im glad I watch fights for free at a bar..LOL..FIRE ME

    • kevstinx

      You are not alone there, I do not pay for UFC events, I would not give a penny to this corrupt organisation.

  • MikeMc1983

    Your boss is aloud to fire you for something, and not fire someone else for a similar offense. People who make comments that are considered insensitive is not a protected class. Different states can be different, but ive never heard a state require all employees to be treated equally from a moral standpoint. They can fire you because they “don’t like you.” it’s really hard now a days to win a wrongful termination suit. Unless your part of one of the protected classes, and you can prove that your boss fired you for being apart of one of those classes, and for no other reason. Your screwed. Courts have really jumped on the side of buissness over the last decade.

  • MikeMc1983

    Correction: it’s not only protected classes. You could be wrongfully terminated for a few other reasons. Like being fired because you refused to do a task that is unlawful. There’s a few other things, but employers don’t even have to give specific reasons anymore. (at least in California.)

    • KBEsq

      What does this comment have to do with anything? No one is claiming White does not have a legal right to fire his employees. We’re saying he’s a d*** for doing it for the reasons stated. it’s a discussion forum.

  • b-soc

    It doesn’t help Dana’s case that he’s said on numerous occasions that Forrest is above getting cut. And Rashad is a top level lightheavyweight, and with the Jones feud, is drawing in revenue.

    Punishments have to be consistent based on the infraction. Clearly, this is not consistent. Dana can give (bs) explanations all he wants – obviously, from the comments above, MMA fans are not falling for it.

  • kevstinx

    Firstly, are the rules being made up as they go along? Someone lately lost 2 fights on the bounce and got released… STILL waiting for Dan i lose 4 on in a row Hardy to be released.

    Ironic how the likes of Evans and Forrest are almost untouchable. Forrest marks some what of a ground breaking era and flies the original TUF flag. Can not release you’re best fighters surely ?

    We know Dana acts in the moment, this being the reason he is an awful P.R man for the sport. He is forgetting to be diplomatic and getting emotionally evolved like a fan and swearing on live t.v, great representative for the sport!

    Roll on the Right Wing of Zuffa….
    If you say a word out of line or do not sign your life away or do anything they disagree with, you are fired! When Dana says suck, you say how deep?