White, Coker respond to Meryl Streep insult

Monday, January 09, 2017

On Sunday night, Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes 2017. In her acceptance speech, she took a barely veiled swipe at president-elect Donald Trump, and in doing so, made unfortunate and factually incorrect disparaging remarks about mixed martial arts.

“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which ARE NOT THE ARTS,” she said.

The truth is, some athletes in MMA are fighters and some are martial artists, and some, likely a majority, draw on elements of both. It’s an obscenity to tell Lyoto Machida he’s not an artist, and Streep did.

Further, Streep is managed by CAA, arch rival of IMG-WME which owns the UFC. In a move so cynical it could come only from Hollywood, CAA is trying to organize UFC fighters into a union. One hopes that a woman of Streep’s character would not be influenced to disparage mixed martial arts due to the biases of her managing company.

One hopes.

The president of the UFC and the president of Bellator MMA both took issue with the remarks and responded characteristically.

“I’m a lifelong fan of your work but also a lifelong martial artists who happens to promote mixed martial arts around the world,” wrote Bellator CEO Scott Coker on his social network. “The global sport of mixed martial arts celebrates male and female athletes from all around the world who work years tirelessly honing their craft and — yes — art. They come fromm every country and every walk of life. We at Bellator support them and honor their skill.”

UFC president Dana White was more blunt in an interview with TMZ Sports.

“Oh, of course it’s an art,” said White, as transcribed by Zane Simon for BE. “These fighters, the men and women, are so talented. They train their whole lives to become the best in the world. And the people who get into the UFC are the elite of the elite. It’s saying something stupid like that is like saying that she’s not a talented actress, which she is. She’s a very talented actress.”

“It’s not going to be everybody’s thing, and the last thing I expect is an uppity 80-year-old lady to be in our demographic and love mixed martial arts. If you really look at who follows the UFC and is into mixed martial arts, it’s everybody. Like I said, I don’t expect an 80-year-old woman to be a big fan of mixed martial arts. And listen, everybody’s into whatever they’re… I’m not a big fan of golf. Doesn’t mean people should stop watching it. If you don’t like it, change the channel.”

White also took exception to Streep’s implication that MMA was somehow without an international influence.

“We have fighters from all over the world,” said White. “We do fights in tons of foreign countries.”

“She’s not educated about the sport and it was a completely uneducated comment.”

The UFC president was asked if he thought the swipe at MMA was a response to White’s speaking in favor of Trump at the Republican convention last year.

“I don’t know, maybe; maybe she did, I’m not sure,” said White. “Ari Emanuel is definitely Hollywood and he makes movies and TV shows and wasn’t a Trump supporter either. But, I don’t know.”