During a discussion with journalists on Thursday after a press conference to promote the upcoming UFC 137, which takes place in Las Vegas on Saturday night, White said, "I'll tell you right now, if there was a gay fighter in UFC, I wish he would come out... I could care less if there's a gay fighter in the UFC. There probably is and there's probably more than one... I mean, it's 2012. Give me a break."
White was in part responding to criticisms made by the Las Vegas chapter of the Culinary Union, Local 226, that the league is homophobic. The union represents hospitality industry workers in the city.
Local 226, which set up a website detailing White and the UFC's infractions, is circulating a petition to convince FOX to drop UFC and is also attempting to get Anheuser-Busch's to reconsider their sponsorship.
"If you guys look at all the stuff that I've said over the last 10 years -- some of it stupid, some of it whatever -- that's the one that bothers me," White said Thursday. "That's the only one that bothers me -- the fact that these losers from the Culinary Union can go out and say that I'm a homophobe and things like that -- because it's the furthest thing from the truth."
USA Today notes that the Culinary Union wants to work with "Station Casions, a gambling company owned by the Fertitta brothers, who also own most of UFC parent Zuffa." Station Casino employees do not belong to the Union and to "pressure the Fertittas, the union for years has been criticizing their other businesses, most notably UFC."
Local 226 isn't just going after White. They're also pointing to comments from two-time champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira who said he wouldn't train with a gay fighter.
Responding to those criticisms, White said:
"But you're going to have guys like Nogueira who come from Brazil, who's got that macho, Latino -- doesn't want to roll with a gay guy. People are going to say stuff like this...We're all human beings. We all make mistakes sometimes. It doesn't mean that the UFC is bad and we're unfit for children and all this other stuff.
So I don't like playing all that (baloney). I just don't do it, give a (crap) what the Culinary Union has to say or anybody else that wants to come out and says negative things about us. Because anybody that's been around the sport long enough knows it's not true."
This isn't the first time White has shown support for gay fighters. In 2009 he said:
"Any guy involved in grappling is the furthest thing from homophobic in the world. I honestly think it would have no impact whatsoever with not only our fighters or our fan base. The guys in the UFC, everybody is so cool, it's great sportsmanship, everybody has respect for each other. I honestly, it wouldn't be a big deal to me and most of the guys I know in this sport, it wouldn't be a big deal for them either."
While the controversy over homophobia in the league rages, many ironically consider the UFC to be incredibly homoerotic. In a 2008 issue of Out magazine, writer Mark Simpson profiled the fighting league and determined it to be "gay porn for straight men."
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