Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum made headlines yesterday (Thurs., September 28, 2017) when he got into a highly-publicized spat with interim lightweight contender Tony Ferguson at the UFC 216 media lunch.
Werdum appeared to talk over Ferguson in his native Portuguese as the two were interviewed in very close proximity, something that made “El Cucuy” demand his chance to speak clearly, which then incited “Vai Cavao” to unhinge with an expletive-filled tirade where he repeatedly used the offensive-to-some insult of ‘maricon’. The scene evolved into a testosterone-fueled standoff, with a UFC PR exec coming in to separate the two fighters.
Werdum explained his side of the story shortly after the heated back-and-forth, but apparently, that wasn’t enough in his eyes. After what was most likely a fervent backlash due to ‘maricon’ being perceived as a clear homophobic slur, Werdum decided to issue an apology to anyone he offended in the LGBT community:
Maricon is common word in the Spanish culture and I do not mean to offend anyone in the LBG community and if I did I'm apologetic #heeyy
— Fabricio Werdum (@FabricioWerdum) September 29, 2017
Werdum insisted ‘maricon’ was a common term in the Spanish culture, in which he grew up after being born in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
He speaks Portuguese and Spanish fluently and has even served a member of the UFC commentary team. He also chose to insult Ferguson in both languages yesterday, and said he only stopped short of assaulting Ferguson because he knew he had a title fight coming up at UFC 216, where Werdum will take on Derrick Lewis:
“I just don’t punch him because I know he’s got a fight coming up and Chris is a very nice guy with me all the time. I don’t want to break everything. I almost, maybe just like one second, I snap his head — 100 percent. Like PRIDE rules.”
Even if the slur he used is a common occurrence in his language as he insists it is, he was always going to get a heavy amount of criticism for using the world so freely in a public setting, and overall it’s just not a good look for a sport that is still truly trying to burst into the mainstream outside of megastar lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
And in a year like 2017 where pay-per-view (PPV) buys have languished in record-low numbers at times, Werdum’s use of perceived homophobic slurs, whether he meant them or not, just isn’t going to help the UFC’s new owners repay the massive loans they took out to buy the promotion in 2016.
What do you think about the situation? Did Werdum do enough to remedy the damage, or did he make too big of a scene to apologize his way out of?