This week, disturbing news came to light, once again, involving UFC featherweight Diego Brandao. Brandao, who won season fourteen of The Ultimate Fighter, was arrested April 14 on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The arrest followed an incident at an Albuquerque, NM club in which Brandao is alleged (in a witness statement since released and posted by MMA Mania) to have thrown punches at a club employee, pulled a gun, waved it at staff — and used it to pistol whip at least one employee. The club, ironically, was a strip joint named Knockouts.

Here we go again.

The UFC released a boilerplate statement, of course.

We are aware that UFC featherweight Diego Brandao was arrested Friday following an altercation at a business establishment in Albuquerque, N.M. We are in the process of gathering more information at this time.

While we are concerned by the nature of the reported allegations, it is important to note that Brandao is entitled to due process in a court of law.

We will have no further comment until more information can be gathered.

It appears the promotion has not learned any lessons from the case of Thiago Silva, who similarly pulled a weapon — on his own wife — in a video released in 2014. The UFC, when allegations first came to light, did release Silva, only to reinstate him when Silva’s estranged wife left the country, forcing charges against him to be dropped due to the “lack” of a cooperating witness. Of course, then Thaysa Kamiji, having moved to Abu Dhabi to start her life over (ergo, no longer being a cooperating witness, in the eyes of law enforcement), released video of the incident online.

The ensuing firestorm was both sad, and not very surprising. All sorts of excuses were made for Silva, though the UFC did the right thing and released him.

At the time, their cautionary approach could be seen as understandable, but at some point, lessons need to be learned. Employers do not need to wait on criminal charges to dismiss employees behaving badly in public, especially when the employees — contract workers or not — are themselves public figures.

This is not the first time Brandao has come under the gun, just like Silva was far from a first time offender.

Since winning TUF 14, Brandao’s UFC career has been rocky to say the least. Outside a crushing loss to Conor McGregor, the Brazilian fighter is probably best known for troubles outside the cage. Prior to UFC 168 in December 2013, he threatened to stab opponent Dustin Poirier at the weigh-ins, something that did not become known until after the fight, which Brandao lost by TKO.

Then in February 2015, video surfaced of Brandao threatening a reporter at Brazil’s Carnival. While the incident didn’t cause too much of a fuss, it was still a problematic act from a fighter who seemed far from stable, or able to represent the UFC as an organization in a positive light.

Finally, earlier this year, the fighter was put on suspension for failing a drug test at UFC 195 — albeit for marijuana.

Taken individually, these incidents might be looked at differently, but taking into account the latest, more serious altercation, suddenly, they look like the acts of a fighter on a downward spiral, one who is out of control — and who needs to be dealt with swiftly by the organization.

And here is where the UFC needs to learn its lesson: having just overcome a years-long ban on MMA in New York, the promotion needs to do everything it can to ensure its fighters carry themselves with dignity and respect, core values of martial arts. Sure, you can claim that you’re waiting for the legal process to play out, but the promotion is not obligated to do so. There are plenty of precedents for companies firing employees whose public actions have hurt the image of the business, and this case is one where such a scenario would seem to apply. More than that, Diego Brandao may need some serious help, and fighting may not be where his focus should be right now.

That the UFC didn’t at least suspend Brandao — even on paper — shows they really haven’t learned their lesson. Had he shot someone, were someone dead, or in the hospital, would the response still have been that he’s “entitled to due process in a court of law?” No. So make a firm stand, that any violence outside the cage will not be tolerated, especially anything with a weapon. As much I’m for innocent until proven guilty, in cases where there’s a history, which are this serious, action needs to be taken.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.