Israel Adesanya promised he would be “more careful” with his words.
The reigning UFC middleweight champion came under fire this week for promising to “rape” 185-pound trash talker Kevin Holland, after “Trailblazer” used social media to poke fun of “The Last Stylebender.”
“Bro, I’ll (expletive) rape you,” Adesanya said in a now-deleted Instagram story.
Not surprisingly, that comment didn’t sit well with Executive Director of Rape Prevention Education (RPE) Debbi Tohill, who slammed Adesanya for the irresponsible remark.
“People with a large social media following can play a significant role in reducing rates of sexual violence and creating healthy cultures of consent for any sexual activity,” Tohill told Stuff. “Conversely, these kind of comments where rape is used as a threat create a culture where it is acceptable to make sexualised comments with the potential to cause further harm. Sportspeople and celebrities can really influence young people, we would like to see this happen in a positive way, not misused and normalizing threats of sexual violence.”
Adesanya did not respond to complaints about his “joke,” but did try to intercept any incoming fire, because shouting “click bait!” or “fake news!” is the easiest way to reassign blame.
Adesanya, who was unsuccessful in his bid to capture the light heavyweight title from Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, previously found himself in hot water back in early 2020 after promising Yoel Romero would “crumble like the Twin Towers.”
Even New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Grant Robertson, felt compelled to respond, insisting there was “never a time” for using threats of sexual violence to promote a combat sports feud.
“I’m sure Israel understands that, I believe he has deleted the tweet in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do,” Robertson said. “But I would certainly be making clear to him, and to anybody actually, that we have to take rape seriously. It’s not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all.”
Adesanya is not the first UFC fighter to post rape jokes on social media.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion, Forrest Griffin, was forced to apologize and made a sizable donation to a rape crisis center after telling his 750,000+ Twitter followers “Rape is the new missionary.”
UFC has yet to comment.