In Defense of Miguel Torres


The emergence of mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the mainstream media has put its president Dana White, who became a central figure in the company’s promotional efforts, under the spotlight. Enjoying glamour almost as much as his employees[1], he created for himself an image of a Vince McMahon-like soap opera character, who would have went to Don King’s school of scorched earth business ethics.

What transpires of White’s on-screen behavior is that he likes being the boss, more than anything he’s ever done in his lifetime. Over the years, on the great observational platform that is the UFC reality show The Ultimate Fighter, you could see him fire fighters on cable television[2], fire coaches on cable television[3] and make a creative use of profanities as a motivational speech enhancer. Question the nature of the reality you see in the show all you want, but the reach of Dana White’s actions is very real. None of the fighters he kicked off the show had much of a career afterwards.

Dana White enjoys the hell out being in charge and under the spotlight at the same time. His latest “boss” move (like I call them) was to fire ex-Bantamweight Miguel Torres from his roster for making rape jokes on Twitter. Very commendable move from the boss, right? To fire a once valued employee for making public comments that made the company look bad.

That’s what responsible bosses do…right?

I don’t think so. There is a cloud of nebulous circumstances around Miguel Torres’ firing. It wasn’t a gesture of goodwill from Dana White, but rather he used Torres’ comments against him to show him the door. What I’m saying here is that Miguel Torres was not fired on an ethical basis, but rather an economic one and White’s appropriation of the recent rape scandals sends a really weird and contradictory message to actual rape victims.

The Tweet that got Miguel Torres fired was: “If a rape van was called a surprise van more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises”[4]. Tasteless, I know. Not the brightest thing to say for a guy who’s trying to get back into the spotlight. It’s also a quote taken verbatim from a television show called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia[5]. Now, whether an employee should be fired or not for such comments is up to his boss, but the problem here is that Torres’ tweet is not the only variable of the equation.

He was the third UFC fighter to make explicit rape comments in a very short period of time and the only one that had to suffer consequences. Forrest Griffin was the first, tweeting “Rape is the new missionary”[6], which is an offense of the same potency. A cynical one liner. Right there, if one gets fired, both should be fired. They did the same thing and were treated differently. One could argue that Miguel Torres did it after and he should have known better, but here’s the third variable of the equation. Rashad Evans.

In a press conference in Chicago, Evans told his future opponent Phil Davis: “‘I guarantee you’re going to be the first one to take a shot because I’m going to put those hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State.”[7].

Now THAT’S bad.

Evans was referring to Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State sex scandal abuse that lead to the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno[8]. I am aware that in the fight vernacular, rape is a synonym for a severe beating, but comparing Phil Davis to the child victims of Jerry Sandusky is heavier and more deliberate than Griffin and Torres’ cynical one liners. Apparently Dana White had a discussion with Evans behind closed doors, but that’s all there’s been rumored for punishment.

If he wanted to be ethical about this, if Dana White would have pulled a “boss” move that was coherent with his on-screen persona, he would have:

1) Fired all three


2) Kept them all with the company.

There is no way you can justify on an ethical basis the firing of Miguel Torres after Rashad Evans’ comments. It doesn’t make any sense. The ex-Light-Heavyweight champion was making fun of actual rape victims. Dana White can say whatever he wants, say it’s a “case-by-case” issue, but from an ethical standpoint, it’s worthless.

If you look at it from an economical point of view, then you can start making a case for it.

There is no way that the UFC would have fired Rashad Evans or Forrest Griffin.  They are two ex-champions that fight in a high-profile weight class. They are money in the bank, potential headliners for every show. Both could potentially step up as a late replacement for a marquee fight.

Miguel Torres on the other hand was paid sixty thousand dollars for his quiet dispatching of Nick Pace on the undercard of UFC 139[9]. This is the real reason why he was cut from the UFC. Michael McDonald made only fourteen thousand for the Knock-out of the Night, on the same card. Yves Jabouin made twelve thousand on UFC 140[10]. Ivan Menjivar made twelve thousand to beat Pace, a few months earlier[11]. From an economic point of view, it makes sense. Miguel Torres as a money outside the bank. He was paid like a champion to fight on the undercard.

Now, Torres’ newfound disciplined boxing style has attracted him many critics, but he had yet to face somebody who could return the punches. Antonio Banuelos had a thirteen inch reach handicap on him. Nick Pace was way too green. Both times, the ex-Bantamweight kingpin did not have to leave his comfort zone to beat them.

Firing Miguel Torres after a disappointing performance makes sense from an economic point of view, but it’s short sighted. They could have given him more dangerous opponents that could trade with him and make him justify his salary, but they decided to cut him based on his slow and methodic victory over Pace. Last spring, Torres had a very exciting (and close) three round scuffle with Demetrious Johnson, but that’s already in the past.

I don’t believe Dana White cares about rape victims to the point of firing one of his fighters. Dana White cares about his business first and foremost and the firing of Torres is a meticulously planned attempt to look good while saving money by dumping a fighter that had become expendable to him. Ultimately, the firing of Miguel Torres can be perceived as a sign of weakness. He’s not the carefree entrepreneur, the captain of his own ship, like he leads us to believe.

Miguel Torres was the scapegoat of a company who’s been looking to trim their roster. I would not be surprised if he’s rehired somewhere down the road, but at a lower salary and to face more difficult opponents. Firing him under the motives Dana White stated in public was unfair and dishonest to the UFC fans. He gave up on him after the Nick Pace fight. His tweet was just a good excuse to fire him.

Dana White bows to the same Gods as everybody else. Those printed on dollar bills.

*** Benoit Lelievre is a member of the Tristar gym.  This piece reflects his views alone and do not reflect the opinion of Tristar in any way.

[1] White gets considerably more air time on a yearly basis than most fighters anyway. Do the math, a fighter gets a  maximum of thirty minutes of airtime IF he’s headlining, two or three times a year. White gets about five minutes at every show (sometimes once a week), plus he participates on the seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. The man loves the camera.

[2] Eli Joslin, for being claustrophobic (season two). Noah Inhofer, for missing his girlfriend (season three), Allen Berube,  Noah Thomas and Marlon Sims, for being retarded (season five), amongst others.

[3]Tito Ortiz , on season eleven, a few days before the end of the show, for being injured. He was then unexplainably replaced by Rich Franklin, who BEAT adversary coach Chuck Liddell at the end of the show.

[5] Season 4, Episode 2: The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis.


29 Responses to “ In Defense of Miguel Torres ”

  1. harry balls says:

    they were just looking for an out with Torres. For anyone to think he was actually endorsing rape (without getting the ASIP) is absurd.

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  2. Jamie Locke says:

    Great article.

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  3. trent says:

    I just tweeted this to DFW i doubt he will give it the time of day, but i for one would love to hear his rebuttal.

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  4. Jamie Locke says:

    I tweeted it as well, but not to DW.

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  5. @trent: It’s funny you say DFW, because the inventor of the humorous footnotes is David Foster Wallace…and he’s dead so he can’t really rebutt it :) But yeah, many people tweeted it to Dana.

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  6. TK says:

    Fastastic opinion piece. The bottom line for me is that we need the WEC back! Just as many expected, the bantamweights are putting on exciting fights, but they are mostly stuck on the undercard. Most mainstream fans just aren’t interested in seeing guys like Torres (one of my favorite fighters). It is going to take time for the mid-level BW and FW fighters to make UFC undercard money, and the firing of Torres is just a step in that direction.

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  7. Robin Black says:

    Great stuff brother. Good read and well-written as always.

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  8. BruceLee4ever says:

    Great article

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  9. Tim Wilberforce says:

    Some good points in the article but I see DW’s side of it as well. Torres paid the price because his comment was the third in a short span and an example had to be made. DW probably had to deal with several activist groups from the first two and he had to act on the third. I think Rashad got a warning, Forrest paid a penalty (donation and public apology etc.) and Torres got fired. The penalty progressed.
    I think the fighters know that the herd needs thinning so don’t give them an excuse. I think most people can agree that rape jokes will get you fired just about anywhere. Maybe they need social media training.

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  10. ChuckNorris420 says:

    Wow, Dana should not have gotten rid of Torres. The Penn State comment is WAYYYYY worse than the joke the Torres repeated from a show.

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  11. @Tim: A warning, what does it mean exactly? And would a warning be worse than a penalty? Also, White has stated (somewhere in the footnotes links) that he analyzes this on a case by case basis. If it’s indeed the case, why wasn’t Rashad fired then? Fuck, he LAUGHED at the joke.

    Also, I don’t know if you remember but the UFC has put in place a Twitter bonus (that all the Brazilians won this yea). The guys are encouraged to use their twitter, be funny and charming. Not that a rape joke is charming, but the UFC encourages the guys to go on Twitter and say all sorts of thing.

    I’m not making excuses here. I’m saying it was unfair and that it had nothing to do with rape joke ethics.

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  12. TK…. we do need the WEC back. by the way, today is the anniversary of the showtime kick.

    Ben…Great post, sir!

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  13. Sticky-icky-icky says:

    @Tim Wilberforce, Dana might be justified if he himself did not make a rape joke himself. Check out the hypocrite’s twitter, or this article on Yahoo! Dana makes a prison rape joke, but I guess that kind of assault on a human being is OK.

    Apparently, prison rape is the new missionary.

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  14. Tim Wilberforce says:

    @Benoit – I meant the penalty was the donation that Forrest had to make and the apology but I don’t know if that was on his own or it was suggested. I agree that it was unfair. Sometimes a comment goes unnoticed and other times one person can cause a sh*tstorm with one complaint to one blogger. He got screwed but he’s young and good. I think it’ll blow over. Twitters great for making fans and growing the entire sport but your haters are reading too, ready to pounce. Anyway, I gotta run , there’s a surprise van outside my house. I can’t wait to see what’s in it………………(it’s funny, i can’t help it)

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  15. @Tim: He’s not that young anymore, he’s 30.

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  16. Tim Wilberforce says:

    I’m back, it was a surprise, I don’t want to talk about it.

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  17. Pessimist_Pete says:

    Perhaps one of the worst mma articles ever written. Torres is something like 40-4 and he fights in a division that is in desperate need for development and name recognition.

    Hey stupid *** mmanalyst, are you trying to tell us that Torres v. Dodson couldn’t co-headline a smaller show?

    Dana’s decision was wrong in my opinion, but don’t try to say it had anything to do with money. Some people who write mma articles are so ****ing stupid

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  18. I have a hater. You’re cute.

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  19. Pessimist_Pete says:

    Miguel Torres is in the top 5 bantam weight in the world. And two or three years ago he was top 3 pound for pound. 60,000 is chump change for a fighter with his record. Get a clue.

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  20. steve hill says:

    Who Does Dana White think he is!!!!!!!!!Were torres comments in bad taste !!offcourse!!!But to take away a mans livelihood is Bullshit..

    If Dana white is pissed at him because it reflects the company, then suspend him , fine him, or just stop fukn talking to him. Or put him in the ring with the toughest S.O.B he can think of….

    Bottom line Dana White screws with people in his company; Why ? Because he can…

    The man is a Goof

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  21. Tim Wilberforce says:

    @Steve Hill Dana thinks he’s the boss because he is. This is the major league of mma. When you screw up, you get fired. If you are a more worthy employee, you may get a pass. He gets to decide because he made this thing happen and he stuck it out when it was in the hole millions of $. Without DW there is no Fertita $ and no UFC. He didn’t take away his livlihood, he sent him to the minors basically. I don’t agree with the decision and I hope he gets back. DW is the boss of a billion $ business and he will fire many of his thousands of employees. I defend him cuz he’s the dude who brings me thousands of fights. Bottom line – its not charity-he can fire you. That won’t change.

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  22. Bdc says:

    Did this author ever write for hitler?

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  23. Bdc says:

    propaganda…i think so but at least you said its ur views at the bottom of pg

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  24. HomeWrecker says:

    Todd Stout supports Miguel’s tweet

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  25. steve hill says:

    Tim…Thanks for pointing out Dana whites position to me…I truly was not aware he was the boss….

    But now that I no that dont you think he should make his decisions not based on emotion and the heat of the moment..

    are you saying torres is not a value to the company or mma in general

    as a point of clarification , I think without the fertitas there would have been no Dana white…might have been an his vision …But definately there cash

    perhaps you and dana should both have all the facts and think before you speak

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  26. Tim Wilberforce says:

    @Steven Hill – nons of my facts were wrong. The Fertitas knew nothing of mma before Dana. They still were very rich and successful but the UFC wouldn’t be here without both.
    Torres is valuable but but expendable in a company with thousands of employees and thousands more scratching to get in. As I said, I think he got screwed and I hope he gets back.
    You obviously didn’t know Dana was the boss if your going to say Who Does he Think He is?
    You need read the entire posts you’re going to dispute. Not only did I not get facts wrong, there are no facts in my post. It’s my opinion and I try not to form it based on hatred of one boss or one fighter. When people do that it is clear to most readers that it lacks credibility.

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  27. Sexy1 says:

    I feel bad for Torres!!!!!! He doesn’t deserve this!!!

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  28. canadx says:

    white has created a monoply for the purpose of holding down expensives purses. Assuming one beliefs half of stated gate and pat tv revenue, why are pursesso low? A basketball player just signed for $95 million, baseball, football, hockey all have huge salaries. Granted they have more games but intuitivly there has to be a stronger relationship between the sport revenue and the atlet’s labour payout. Unionized majorsports at pegged abot 50%. A while back Black wrote a piece in here re finances of Canadian shows–Yes they are not making big money so one cannot expect big purses– but UFC is certainly in the company of major sports but the purses are lower than triple a baseball, or even beach volleyball.. White is no friend of fighters

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  29. dudeson says:

    Well Miguel is back so i am sure DFW just wanted to make an example that this type of shit will no longer be tolerated.

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