Tyler Manawaroa is a 19 year middleweight fighter from Australia and a current cast member of “Ultimate Fighter Nations” season 19, Canada vs. Australia and up until yesterday, most MMA fans had never heard of him.
However, that all changed 24 hours ago when a ‘tweet’ from fellow cast-mate and team Canada member, Kajan Johnson, revealed that Manawaroa had, 18 months prior to ‘TUF’s’ taping, posted a picture that was of a racist nature and as to his Instagram account.
With the picture now the subject of great debate and the fighter the focus of much derision, Manawaroa has taken to his Facebook page and in an effort to assuage the controversy, by both apologizing and explaining himself.
As the fighter posted:
“I posted a pic on Instagram that has offended people…I’m very sorry !! As you can imagine that was never the intention. As a dark skinned person myself who has dealt with racism all my life, I was making fun of the stereotype that all dark people go to jail...which is obviously not true....hence the irony...but I will remove it and I apologize for offending you.”
In considering his words, the most important thing is that Manawaroa apologized.
More importantly, it appears, at least on its surface, that he’s apologized without having had been told to do so by the UFC. Although we can’t establish that as a fact, we do, however, know that the brand has yet to make an official comment on the Manawaroa Twitter revelations. As such and short of any definitive statement from the promotion one way or the other, Manawaroa should be given the benefit of the doubt on the matter, and it should be assumed that he elected to address the subject of his own accord and minus any instruction from the promotion.
However and setting that aside, Manawaroa could’ve put a bit more effort into the apology and perhaps made it a little more heart felt.
His raising the issue of his intentions or his own race (Manawaroa is of Maori ancestry) and the fact that he’s dealt with racism his whole life, are irrelevant as a point of defense for posting the photo and more importantly, does not in turn, give him carte blanche to make racist slurs against other races.
In terms of his making fun of a stereotype and how the photo and its accompanying caption(s) were ironic, that logic is apt to be lost on most. Sadly for Manawaroa, the photo would only be ironic and hence funny, if that which is depicted in the picture were seen as being true. Manawaroa’s simply pointing out the stereotype and adding to it, is neither ironic nor funny.
In review, Manawaroa did apologize and most likely without provocation from the UFC, but having done so, he failed to give a decent accounting of his actions.
That said and perhaps this is the fighter’s defense, it should be noted that he is only 19 years old and when he posted the picture he was only 17. In short, he was a foolish kid and one that made a stupid mistake posting a captioned photo that his young life and juvenile mind, was ill-equipped to understand and appreciate, at least not in terms of its true sentiment and rhetoric. In short, that he simply did not understand the gravity of his post and even less how others might respond to it. He most certainly didn’t consider how it might come back and nip him in the backside (nearly) two years later. Again, he was ostensibly a child when he did it.
Regarding what might happen to Manawaroa, fans, like the fighter himself, will have to wait for that shoe to drop. As this is a fight week in the UFC, the question is sure to be put to the promotion’s president at some point and on that day, we’re sure to hear of the fighter’s fate. If White says little, that may well be a sign that Manawaroa beat Elias Theodorou in the TUF semifinals and advanced to the finale. As such, White’s hands might be tied in terms of what he can and cannot say, regarding Manawaroa.
On another note and in case you missed Manawaroa's fight from last week's episode of TUF, then here's the video of his bout with Nordine Taleb (Team Cote).