Zuffa is receiving its share of vitriol for not only cancelling the fight between Will Chope and Diego Brandao, but for having the gall to cut Chope from its ranks when it discovered that in 2009, Chope had three instances of assaulting his then wife/now ex-wife while he was in the U.S. Air Force. Zach Arnold has a nice piece at Sherdog describing the situation and discussing how much Zuffa is responsible for know the history of its fighters.
I’m not going to justify what Zuffa did by cutting Chope. I believe in second chances, but I don’t know the particulars of why Zuffa chose to cut ties with Chope or why they waited until now (begging the question, how much did they know and when). I don’t know if this was something he left off his application or something that just fell through the cracks when Zuffa did a background check, in which case someone in Zuffa’s HR department in addition to Chope likely needs to find new employment as well.
I’m also not going to take Zuffa to task for cutting a prospect because five years ago he, “…slammed [his wife’s] head onto the floor, and hit her on top of her head with both the knife handle and his hand. When AW screamed for help, the appellant took her onto the ground, and used a ‘pillow or blanket’ to silence her screams.” He may have grown from this situation, and he may be a changed man, but an employer’s reluctance to tolerate or not to tolerate someone’s past criminal actions is at that employer’s discretion. Zuffa may have simply thought that regarding Chope, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
Of course that doesn’t explain why guys with equally checkered pasts get to stay on the roster, and other guys don’t. Zuffa isn’t explaining their policy. Not too many people are clamoring to see that policy anyway.
What is lost in all of the “is it fair/is it not fair to cut Will Chope from the UFC” debate is Diego Brandao.
- FACT: Brandao missed weight the last time he fought against Dustin Poirier; a fight he lost.
- FACT: Brandao came in lighter than the 145 pound limit, showing he may have cut too much weight, which should have affected his performance.
- FACT: The information about Will Chope came out the day before his scheduled fight with Diego Brandao.
- FACT: In politics, the best way to get your opponent out of the way is to dig for dirt and be thorough with “opposition research”.
- FACT: Zuffa paid Brandao his show and win purse despite the fight being cancelled.
Could the blame for Chope losing his job lie at the feet of one Diego Brandao? I mean rather than throwing one punch, he gets his show and win money and can get put on an upcoming future card with very little downtime and zero damage. Could the blame, despite his rehabilitation and redemption, belong to Will Chope for a momentously bad decision he made 5 years ago? Could Zuffa be to blame, in their hypocritical and arbitrary policies (whatever those policies are), for wanting to remove any negative publicity associated with its brand? Or, maybe, just maybe, the truth about why Will Chope was let go is more complex than anyone outside of Will Chope and the UFC knows?
The only thing I know for sure is that when this fiasco is brought up in the future, don’t be surprised to see the Culinary Union using it as a major talking point for how Zuffa and MMA needs to be kept out of NYC.