A sports photographer found himself in hot water after covering a UFC fight and posting about the winning female contender on his Instagram in an entry that called her a man.
The fighter, Cris Cyborg, asked that Mark Aragon of Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA have his credentials revoked after the post drew public condemnation from UFC fans and Aragon’s fellow journalists alike.
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UFC responded to the post by revoking Mark Aragon’s press credentials from future fights, effectively ending his career as an MMA photographer for UFC-branded matches.
In the offending post, Aragon wrote: “This dude is tough as hell! That being said at the press conference he said Holly was the first one to make his nose bleed! You are my hero @hollyholm see you back in the gym. #ufc219”
UFC female fighter Cris Cyborg responded to this post with “It is not acceptable for an official representative of @hollyholm @jacksonwink_mma to call me transgender following my Fight. Their official photographer was given a backstage credential to attend the @UFC and I expect an apology or their ability to get credentials for future UFC events to be affected by these actions.”
Aragon and Jackson-Winkeljohn eventually issued an apology. The apology was somewhat circumscribed, however, by Aragon’s assertion that the comment came after he heard Cris’ team mock her opponent, Holly Holm, also of Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA. The comments were delivered out of a sense of anger and frustration, Aragon and Jackson-Winkeljohn said.
Cris Cyborg did not hold back in her response to the somewhat lukewarm apology issued by the photographer and said she should not be required to work in an environment where harassing someone based on their gender is acceptable and further that the photographer agreed to certain professional rules and ethics that he clearly violated by inserting himself into the story.
UFC in its statement seemed to agree there was a certain matter of principle at stake and said the following after banning the photographer from UFC-branded events: “UFC is aware and troubled with the recent statements made by a social media representative from the JacksonWink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico as it concerns women’s featherweight champion, Cris Cyborg. UFC does not condone or tolerate the remarks that were used. The organization has reached out to the JacksonWink team to inform them that the individual in question will not be granted access for future events.”