Holyco case raises questions about role of MMA media

by Kirik Jenness |

Monte Cox, who has extensively promoted both professional boxing and professional MMA, once told me why liked MMA better. He related an incident from when he used to promoter prizefighting, and went back to get some info from a fighter for the announcer.

"What's your record," asked Cox?

Angry, the seated boxer looked up him and said "Man, why do you have to ask me that?"

In MMA a guys record is usually win-loss-draw, not arrests and incarceration.

However, the most recent WSoF show on NBC opened with Dustin Holyko vs. Neiman Gracie, and as revealed by Brent Brookhouse at BloodyElbow, Holyko, 24, has an extensive criminal record, and a number of white supremacist tattoos.

His public record on the Volusia County Clerk of Circuit Court database shows 16 different criminal charges dating back to 2005, including domestic battery and cruelty to animals charges in 2011, felony battery domestic violence in 2012, and domestic battery by strangulation in 2013. He served over two years in jail for robbery with a non-deadly weapon, and is currently on probation for the offense.

In addition, Holyko has White Pride written on his biceps, Iron Crosses on his forearms, and Nazi "SS" lightning bolt symbols on his back.

In an interview with MMAJunkie, Holyko attributed the tattoos to a jail stint at 18, the older charges to an unfortunate past from growing up on the streets, and the recent charges to causes far less heinous than they appear. Further, Holyko said he has quit drinking, turned his life around, and was adamant that he is not racist.

“I am proud of my race, but I’m not racist or any kind of Nazi," said Holyko. “One of my trainers, Mike Vasquez, he’s Puerto Rican and Spanish, and he’s like a dad to me. A lot of my training partners and friends are from different races. I have not a racist bone in my body at all.”

The WSoF cut ties with the fighter, saying that prior to Brookhouse's article, they had no knowledge of the fighter's background.

In an interview with MMAJunkie, WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz faulted Brookhouse for not coming to the WSoF with the information.

“We don’t do background checks on people," said Abdelaziz. "But if something comes up, and it’s something we need to know about, I believe us and the media are all part of the team. If the guy who wrote the story knew about the information, he should have told us before the fight. I know it’s not his job, but to protect our sport and grow, if anybody has information about this kind of behavior, they should let us know.

"We don’t tolerate this; we had no idea this kid had this behavior or a tattoo or an affiliation, but he will never fight for the WSOF again. It’s embarrassing, and that will never happen again.”

A number of members of the MMA media found fault with the idea that Brookhouse should have reached out to the WSoF and informed them, presumably privately.

T. P. Grant ‏@TP_Grant
WSOF to @brentbrookhouse "Hey do our job for us, but don't publish it when we screw up because we are on the same team, kthanksbye!"

I totally failed in my responsibilities to WSOF.

Ben Fowlkes ‏@benfowlkesMMA
I hope you've learned your lesson, Brent. Don't let it happen again. RT

Josh Gross ‏@yay_yee
Damn weird mentality of what media is/should be in the MMA world. Terrible, actually.

Ben Fowlkes ‏@benfowlkesMMA
But, let's be honest, it's not like weird ideas about what the media's role is are uncommon in MMA.

Chris Nelson ‏@3ammma
this reminds me, Strikeforce veteran and noted human trashbag Brandon Saling is still at it 

There was a time when the sport of mixed martial arts was terribly fragile. In all of 1998, there were only three UFCs, and back then nearly everyone who loved it - fans, promoters, fighters, media - sought to protect it from a mainstream media that considered it human cockfighting.

Now however, FOX spends $700,000,000 million to broadcast the sport to millions. With that widespread acceptance comes a different responsibility - not to save it from harsh scrutiny at all costs, but to protect its long-term interests by exposing failings, as necessary.


Recent Comments »

JIUJITSUFOREVER site profile image  


Ali is idiot!

Chromium site profile image  

7/9/14 4:54 PM by Chromium

You know, I thought that the WSoF handled this nicely by just quickly firing the guy and admitting they screwed up on the background check for a last minute prelim replacement. I mean, mistakes happen, and this was a card that was already down to 8 fights and they don't have nearly the resources (or experience) that the UFC has when it comes to this stuff. Live and learn. But saying the media should have told them first before publishing a story is fucking comical. Between shit like this, utterly misusing (or not using ) much of the talent they have under contract, and AAA being a general doofus, this is why I have a hard time taking the WSoF seriously.

hackett site profile image  

7/9/14 4:43 PM by hackett

$700,000,000 million is a lot. LIKE A MILLION BILLION

Jimmy Wrassler site profile image  

7/9/14 4:39 PM by Jimmy Wrassler

Is it just me or does Ali seem like a douche?

potato623 site profile image  

7/9/14 3:29 PM by potato623

BE is a terrible nazi site, Steph Daniels is the only respectable writer there

VitorpeepeetasteStrongTRT site profile image  

7/9/14 3:21 PM by VitorpeepeetasteStrongTRT

Lol at "the media should have told us".

JimmersonzGlove site profile image  

7/9/14 2:45 PM by JimmersonzGlove

LOL @ this

Uncle Muay Thai site profile image  

7/9/14 1:13 PM by Uncle Muay Thai

WSOF should be doing their own background checks to see who they are employing. To say they should of been told by somebody else is a weak attempt to try and save face for employing somebody with a troubled past.

zebers3 site profile image  

7/9/14 1:12 PM by zebers3

WSOF should absolutely do their own background checks.  Although, it does seem like the media would much rather knowingly wait until after this person has competed so that they have a juicy article to make the promotion/sport look foolish. It's all about getting the most views these days. But at the end of the day it's not their responsibility, and WSOF is still at fault, so what can you do.

patsully98 site profile image  

7/9/14 12:11 PM by patsully98

TP Grant nailed it. Besides, this Ali guy is delusional; everyone knows the MMA media should be beholden to Dana White, not him.