For a while the UFC has been one where punishment for snafus by fighters has been seemingly arbitrary. There never has been a set, official guideline of what’s to be expected, et al, and what would be considered potentially job-losing lapses in judgment. A year ago Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans got in hot water because of some rather inappropriate remarks they both made, and since apologized publicly for. Miguel Torres wasn’t as fortunate as he was fired twice for making jokes about rape. So it was a bit of a surprise that the UFC announced two things this afternoon: that there would be an official code of conduct for UFC fighters and that Matt Hughes would be stepping into a corporate role. He also officially retired, as well, to bring about the official end to his career that had long been rumored after a loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 135.
His official position will be Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations.
His job will be, as UFC’s Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein stated at the press conference, is to be the man to act as a go between the fighters under contract and Zuffa brass. He will be responsible to be a mentor and provide experience to keep UFC fighters out of trouble, apparently.
“We’re really proud of the quality of our athletes and there are plenty of individuals who could have done well in this role,” Epstein told Inside Fights/Fox Sports. “I think Matt Hughes, with his history and the fact that he was champion, the way he’s lived his life made him the best guy for the role. We’re happy to have Matt in this role”
It wasn’t anything specific that caused the UFC to adapt this policy of an official code of conduct, which Epstein told me will be made available to the public.
“Nothing specific [caused the UFC to adapt the policy] … It’s not really a change. The change is that we put it in writing. The goal is to provide specific guidance to our athletes so that they act and can look at it and say ‘listen, I know I shouldn’t be doing this stuff.’ It’s nothing new, we emphasize it at our fighter summits and Dana has talked about it with our athletes one on one. It’s nothing new other than the fact it’s actually in writing” Epstein said to Inside Fights/ Fox Sports.
Going forward Zuffa will make this part of their current fighter contracts, of course, but what of current fighters? For current fighters under contract they’re going to be asked to sign onto it as well.
“We’ll just ask everyone to [currently under UFC contract but not covered by official code of conduct] to agree to be part of this. It’s for their health. It’s all about trying to make sure guys stay out of trouble.” Epstein said. He would that the policy wasn’t meant to be one of punishment. It’s meant to keep up the high standards Zuffa has for their fighters.
“This is not about penalizing it’s more about trying to provide specific guidance to keep guys out of trouble.”