UFC and other MMA promotions need to take action on domestic violence and catch up with major sports

MMA promotions lag behind most other major sports when it comes to addressing domestic violence for athletes. It’s about time that changed.

The NBA and the NBA Players Association (NBPA) have a “Joint Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse.” MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have similar policies. The NFL does not have a specific domestic violence policy. Still, it has a personal conduct policy that addresses “actual or threatened physical violence against another person, including dating violence, domestic violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence.”

Each of these policies is detailed in their coverage. Some of the topics covered in the documents – in addition to the expected possible punishment – are training and education, treatment and intervention, investigation of incidents, family resources and how athletes can return to active status after suspension.

After UFC President Dana White punched his wife on New Year’s Eve while on a family vacation in Mexico, the UFC and other MMA promotions must take steps to catch up with the NBA and MLB to enact a written policy on domestic violence.

The UFC Fighter Code of Conduct mentions domestic violence, but only in passing. This document states:

“Discipline may be imposed for misconduct, which includes, without limitation, the following examples:

“Criminal offenses including, but not limited to: the use or threat of violence; domestic violence and other forms of partner abuse; theft and other property crimes; sexual offenses; obstructing or resisting arrest; disorderly behavior; fraud; Blackmail; and money laundering”.

In the first month of 2023 alone, there were multiple incidents of violence against women involving current and former UFC fighters and personalities:

Jan. 1: UFC vet Cain Carrizosa was arrested following another domestic violence incident, with the victim suffering repeated seizures, likely from head trauma.

January 2: Footage of Dana White slapping his wife during New Year’s Eve is released.

Jan. 2: UFC veteran Phil Baroni is arrested for allegedly murdering his girlfriend in Mexico.

January 10: Police reports came to light showing UFC veteran Tony Martin was arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman.

January 23: UFC veteran Raulian Paiva was arrested for domestic violence.

January 24: Reports emerged that Conor McGregor was being sued for allegedly assaulting another woman. The prosecutor’s car was then also set on fire in Dublin on suspicion of arson.

Even in previous years, there had been a long and worrying history of domestic violence cases, with the UFC having mixed results in handling these incidents.

As for White’s case, the UFC President has not received any backlash from the UFC’s owners – Endeavor – or its broadcast partners at Disney/ESPN and TBS. White’s punishment, according to him at least, is, “I’ve got to walk around as long as I live… and that’s how I’m going to be labeled now.” The penalty is that I did it and now I have to deal with it.”

White followed up on this claim by saying that punishment would only hurt the UFC, its fighters and its staff, which was an amazingly narcissistic reaction from anyone, even someone as important as White, who once described himself as ” Kampfgenie” called “advertising genius”.

If the UFC — and the other major MMA promotions — compiled and released comprehensive and detailed domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse guidelines covering fighters and employees, it would go a long way in showing that the promotion was more as just an organization it takes the now-debunked stance that it has a “zero tolerance” policy and that “nobody will shy away from touching a woman”.

The MLB policy is 13 pages long. This document is a good blueprint for the UFC and other MMA promotions, as stated early on:

takes an absolute stance against domestic violence, sexual assault and children


– protects the legal and procedural rights of players;

– Provides assistance to victims and families, particularly information and referrals

on available resources;

– recognizes that players can also be victims in intimate relationships;

– focuses on education and prevention, including training on this policy;

– uses the most effective methods and resources for therapeutic interventions

for abusers and abused; and

– allows therapeutic programs for players and for the imposition of

appropriate discipline for players.

It’s not just about White, who is likely to emerge with no consequences as there is a worrying history of people in sports being violent towards women and their partners.

The UFC along with the other MMA promotions really need to back up their weak and ineffective policies and make a statement. This includes measures through to training and further education. Anything else will become business as usual for the organization and from what we’ve seen over the years that’s not good enough.

Bloody Elbow reached out to the UFC, Bellator and PFL for their specific domestic violence policies. None of the promotions responded to our request.

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