UFC fighter Tony Kelley has landed himself in the middle of the latest UFC racism controversy after a microphone in Andrea “KGB” Lee’s corner captured him talking about “dirty f—king Brazilians.”
During Andrea Lee’s fight against Viviane Araujo at UFC Vegas 54, Lee complained in her corner between rounds about being poked in the eye. Kelley responded “That’s what they’re going to do, they’re dirty f—king Brazilians. They’re going to f—king cheat like that.”
The comment was not well received by Brazilian fighters on social media, with many hoping Kelley will get his comeuppance when he fights Adrian Yanez at UFC Austin on June 18th.
— raulianpaivaufc (@raulianpaivamma) May 15, 2022
“It’s very stupid to make a comment like that against Brazilians,” Raulian Paiva wrote. “I hope the Yanez beat you up a lot for you to have respect, a—hole!”
“Vivi Araujo, thanks for shutting that gringo coach’s mouth,” Cris Cyborg wrote after Araujo was awarded the fight over Lee 29–28, 29–27, and 29–27 on the judges’ scorecards.
Following the event, Tony Kelley took to Twitter to address his comments.
Cancel Culture is real. What I said was real and in the heat of battle, and in no way had any type of racist connotations meant…but if that’s the way you take it, idgaf. So many people quick to say racist..that shits getting so old. My reference was to a dirty eye poke.
— Tony Kelley (@TonyKelleyMMA) May 15, 2022
“Cancel Culture is real,” Kelley wrote. “What I said was real and in the heat of battle, and in no way had any type of racist connotations meant…but if that’s the way you take it, idgaf. So many people quick to say racist … that s—ts getting so old. My reference was to a dirty eye poke.”
Look, do we really have to get out the dictionary and look up ‘racism’ here to determine if Kelley’s comment was racist? We certainly can, but as we learned after the ‘send him back to China’ incident, even textbook racist comments are no longer racist according to some. Just once, though, it’d be nice if a person simply apologized and admitted that yeah, what they said sucked.
Since being sold to Endeavor in 2016 and signing a new broadcast deal with ESPN, the UFC has taken a largely hands off approach to policing fighter speech. That means there won’t be any canceling in Kelley’s future, which may be why everyone is already looking to Adrian Yanez to sort the situation out with his fists come June 18th.