UFC Sponsor Anheuser-Busch Expresses ‘Displeasure’ Over Recent Fighter Comments


One of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most prominent sponsors has voiced its concern over a series of remarks made by UFC talent in the public forum.

Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light and Bud Light Lime, recently issued a statement to Advertising Age detailing the brewer’s disapproval over several fighter comments.

“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,” the company told Advertising Age. “[Anheuser-Busch] embraces diversity and does not condone insensitive and derogatory comments rooted in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc.”

The statement comes after comments made by former world champions Forrest Griffin, Miguel Torres and Rashad Evans last winter. Griffin and Torres made jokes about rape on Twitter; Evans referenced the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse allegations while hyping his UFC on Fox 2 headliner against Penn State alum Phil Davis.

While Griffin and Evans were spoken to by UFC President Dana White about their comments, no disciplinary action was taken against the light heavyweights. Griffin later apologized and reportedly made a donation to a local rape crisis center.

“I like to cause trouble. I like to stir the pot and I like to make a mess of things, but I really do not want to be mean or malicious to anyone,” Griffin told Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV in November. “I feel bad. I want to apologize. I feel like I should be punished a little bit. Maybe other professional athletes or just guys in locker rooms can kind of be more sensitive towards the topic of rape. Once you take the comments in the light of day, you feel disgusted by it, but at the time, you don’t think.”

Torres was released by the promotion following his now-infamous “rape van” tweet. After issuing a public apology and speaking one-on-one with White, Torres was rehired.

The UFC released a statement of its own to Advertising Age concerning its fighters’ use of social media.

“With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments,” the Las Vegas-based promotion stated. “We don’t condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values.

“As an organization, we are progressive in social media and, unlike most other sports leagues, we encourage our athletes to engage online,” the statement continued. “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.”

The actions of Quinton Jackson were also a topic of discussion in the online community after the former light heavyweight champ participated in a video promoting Internet-based television provider FilmOn.com. The 90-second video, “How to Pick Up a Gurl -- Fast,” features Jackson attempting to rape a woman in a parking lot, only to be thwarted and then attacked by the victim, who is revealed to be transgender.

In the past, White and UFC commentator Joe Rogan have also been brought to the forefront of the discussion after making separate derogatory remarks about two female members of the media, as well as using the word “faggot” to publicly express disdain for certain individuals. Both instances, among others, are outlined by a January letter sent to New York State assembly members by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence urging the Empire State to maintain its ban on professional mixed martial arts.

Anheuser-Busch became a UFC sponsor in 2008 and renewed its contract with the promotion last year in a deal that increased Bud Light’s exposure on UFC broadcasts. The beer brand now “presents” four pay-per-views annually and partners with the UFC to promote one “special” event per year, most recently UFC Fight Night 25 this past September.

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