SAN JOSE, Calif. — Political correctness? That’s a foreign concept to Matt Brown.
If you’re looking for tact and sensitivity from your mixed martial arts fighters, you’re looking in the wrong direction here. Brown is raw, without filter and, frankly, probably doesn’t really care what you think of him anyway.
Brown put his foot in his mouth (again) Thursday at open workouts in advance of his title eliminator bout with Robbie Lawler at UFC Fight Night on Saturday here at SAP Center (FOX, 8 p.m.). The Ohio native, a perennial underdog, was asked by a reporter when he would ever be a favorite in a fight. Brown’s response was less than couth.
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"I anticipate to be a favorite, maybe when I’m a champion or something," Brown said. "Maybe they put me against some retard or something."
Presumably, Brown (19-11) wasn’t talking about fighting a man with a disability. It was an off-the-cuff remark, a joke. Brown could have substituted the word "chump" or "sucker," but he resorted to the lowest common denominator, a slur.
I anticipate to be a favorite, maybe when I’m a champion or something. Maybe they put me against some retard or something.
This isn’t the first time Brown’s words have badly missed their mark. In January, he said he would have preferred if Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate were wearing no shirts when they fought at UFC 168.
"I just think this, if I’m [going] to pay $60 for a pay-per-view to watch women fight they should at least be topless," Brown said on his podcast, aptly named "LegitManSh*t."
Brown claimed he never intended to be hurtful, but intent has nothing to do with it. In situations like this and what happened Thursday, it’s all about perception.
Neither one of those things were funny, either, at least outside of Brown’s bubble. Brown and the UFC issued a joint apology when he made his comments about women’s MMA.
"Matt Brown has apologized for the comments made on his podcast, and we have addressed the matter with him," the UFC wrote in a statement. "His comments don’t reflect the views of the UFC. There’s no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. The UFC is built on principles of respect, and any statements to the contrary are not acceptable."
Matt Brown is beloved by UFC fans for his violent fights as well as his blunt speech.
Brown wasn’t penalized for the sexist remarks. A UFC official told FOX Sports on Thursday that the organization would be addressing this new comment internally with Brown. There is precedence for discipline in similar situations. Nate Diaz was fined and suspended for calling Bryan Caraway a homosexual slur last year in a tweet.
On Saturday night, Brown fights Lawler with a title shot on the line. Does the UFC want someone this loose with their words representing them as their champion?
Brown is 33 years old. It’s unlikely he’ll change. A large segment of the fanbase probably doesn’t want him to. There might not be a more exciting fighter in the world. Brown is on a seven-fight winning streak with six finishes. But one of the reasons why he’s so popular is his blunt, unpolished attitude. And really not giving a damn about being PC.
Much the way the irreverent Diaz brothers represent inner-city Stockton, Brown represents the no-nonsense, working-class Midwest. Even Brown’s preparation for this fight against Lawler was utilitarian in nature.
"Let’s get away from this smart training," Brown said. "Let’s go back to hard training. F*** that. I’m sick of everybody talking about overtraining and train smarter. Let’s go back to being raw, crazy stupid sons of b*tches in our backyard and just wrecking each other every day. I think it worked out good."
Brown said his training consisted of carrying weights in wheelbarrows, pushing sleds and running up mountains. That’s about as no-frills as you’re going to get.
"Getting back to the primitive, back to the raw, back to the real," Brown said. "Back to what got me here."
That’s all well and good. As long as it doesn’t seep into his speech.