Throughout the last couple of years, as the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts balloons into popularity, the sport’s leading organization has maintained a disturbing inconsistency when it comes to reacting to controversy outside the Octagon involving their fighters.

Depending on where a guy falls on the food chain – whether the perpetrator is an Ultimate Fighter season one alumni or is a perennial contender in a smaller promotion – can determine his short-term livelihood as a fighter. The one thing Zuffa has been consistent at during these little media frenzied scandals is creating a double standard.

Over the last couple of days, the company has retained this unfortunate status-quo, while adding a hint of hypocrisy, by firing one of their former champs for committing the same social media blunders of the past by current staffers.

Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and Zuffa employee Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal was cut from his current contractual obligations due to a turbulent encounter during the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s hearing over his positive drug test that followed a win over Lorenz Larkin in January. The final ruling came in the form of a swift kick to the staph-infected balls – a nine-month suspension, his win changed to a no-contest and a $39,000 fine.

While at the hearing, “King Mo” was asked by NSAC official Pat Lundvall if he understood and read English, something that was easily taken out of context after seeing the fighter’s frustrations manifest on Twitter – which included a tweet calling Lundvall a “racist b#tch.” Come to find out, panelist Lundvall was referring to the omitted answers on Lawal’s pre-fight questionnaire. Of course during a sensitive situation like this one, depending on the perceived tone, the nature of her question could certainly have left an insinuating taste in Lawal’s mouth – Lawal is an outspoken, colorful character who likes to sport regal props during his entrances to the cage.

After dealing with media scrutiny over failing his drug test, as well as a recent bout of staph infection that nearly ended his life, being on edge during an athletic commission hearing is to be expected. The unexpected was Dana White cutting the fighter after he made poor keyboard choices on Twitter. Does this brash reaction from the UFC’s president and public figurehead sound familiar?

It wasn’t too long ago when former WEC champion Miguel Torres was immediately dismissed from the UFC roster after his erroneous attempt at making rape vans funny. And let’s not forget The Ultimate Fighter season one winner and former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin’s little Twitter blurp about rape being the new missionary.

As our timeline continues to backtrack, we have to mention future Hall-of-Famer Tito Ortiz’s arrest and meltdown after a domestic dispute with his partner Jenna Jameson that spewed across the “Twitter-verse” for all to witness. Former title holder Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has been seen nearly molesting, dry-humping and motor-boating random female members of the media on numerous video sites. Not to mention, before his latest tweeting plea to be released from the UFC, “Rampage” has brought his multiple spats with Dana into the public foray without second thought. These are just Twitter related incidents – the list goes on.

Rashad Evans made a joke at the expense of the victims of the Penn State sex scandal during a press conference before his fight with Phil Davis, Frank Mir told reporters he was going to literally make Brock Lesnar the first Octagon death, Chael Sonnen got popped for performance-enhancing drugs and money laundering, Chris Leben also failed his drug test after a headlining fight with Mark Munoz, Nick Diaz barely “plays the game” and completely misses vital pre-fight pressers for one of the UFC’s biggest matches of the year, et cetera.

These guys are human, and they professionally make or break their quality of life in a cage wearing four-ounce gloves in front of millions of viewers. Even though the majority of mainstream fighters are unmatched sportsmen who conduct themselves with enough honor and respect to be any kid’s role model, it’s natural for certain personality types to fall victim to the emotional side of hyping fights and being in the spotlight.  But each mishap warrants judgment to be made fairly, with a reasonable point of reference, and each fighter deserves to be treated equally.

Based on how you digested that earlier laundry list of questionable behavior by some of the UFC’s top earners, Lawal’s punishment can only be described in a few words: hypocritical, audacious or arbitrary. As long as the previously mentioned fighters continue to receive Zuffa paychecks, “King Mo” deserves the same benefit of the doubt that was extended to his colleagues.

Photo: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

This piece was authored by Joe Schafer. You can find Joe on Twitter: @joeschafer84

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  • NeonJefe

    don’t forget Dana himself lashing out at Loretta “C*nt”