NEW YORK -- The decision to lift heavyweight Matt Mitrione’s suspension in less than three weeks has raised many eyebrows, so promotion president Dana White didn’t hesitate to answer questions Thursday about the matter during UFC 159 media day at Madison Square Garden.
“They [fighters] can be suspended for as long as we want them to be,” White said. “He was suspended for three weeks, but what does that really mean?
“In other sports a suspension means you lose games. He’s not fighting right now anyway. We didn’t suspend him for three fights, two fights. He was fined and put on suspension.
“Suspension meant we were going to look into this thing; we were going to talk to him.”
White then made it clear he agrees with Mitrione that transgender female mixed martial artist Fallon Fox should not be allowed to fight women. White doesn’t, however, embrace the harsh wording Mitrione used to make his point.
And White won’t force Mitrione to apologize.
“You can’t make somebody apologize,” White said. “If I have to make him do it, it’s not real. He’s not really apologizing.
“If that’s his opinion on the situation: He doesn’t like that somebody who used to be a man and became a woman can fight other women. I don’t disagree with him on that. I don’t disagree."
Jones comfortable being himself these days
The past year has been quite memorable for light heavyweight champion Jon Jones: He was labeled "fake" by former friend and sparring partner Rashad Evans before their title bout, had his faith in Christ questioned and got a DWI conviction.
Jones revisited those experiences and concluded that trying to be what others expect of him is a losing battle. So Jones has decided to just be himself.
“I was pretending a lot to be the perfect person, to be super articulate when I’m talking,” Jones said. “I tried to be clean-cut and clean-shaven, be the perfect guy to be sponsored by Nike. And be the perfect, perfect poster boy for UFC.
“Now that I’ve had that whole situation happen to me I’m totally free. I can say what I want; I can be who I want. I’m still trying to be a good person and a good role model. But I’m doing it a little more authentically now.
“And it feels good. It feels good to just be me.”
Bisping learns with age, mistakes
Michael Bisping has a bad habit of coming up short in title eliminators. But it's Bisping's most recent setback, when a title shot was not on the line, that forced him to take a serious look at his approach to being a professional fighter.
Bisping still has images of fighting for the middleweight title and knows that he can no longer allow his weight to become an issue.
“You have to learn from your mistakes,” Bisping said. “You have to be honest with yourself. And there were things I was doing wrong between fights. I was putting on too much weight.
“I’m 34 now, the weight is harder to lose. I’m a professional sportsman, I got away with it in the past, but you’ve got to treat your body with the respect it deserves, especially in this sport.”
Nelson poised for a crack at the title?
“It really comes down to the fans,” Nelson said. “And it’s about the timing. After UFC 160, which is only a month [following UFC 159], I could definitely get a title shot.
“They’re talking about Hunt fighting for a title after he knocked out Struve, and I knocked out Struve a little bit easier.”