At UFC 250 this past weekend, UFC light heavyweight Devin Clark made several statements inside the Octagon both for his career and for the social unrest in America right now. During his introduction at UFC 250 where he took on Alonzo Menifield, Clark used the moment in which Bruce Buffer was announcing his name to take a knee and raise his fist in a show of public support for black lives.
In wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody, there have been countless protests throughout the country and many professional athletes speaking out on social injustice towards black people in America. Clark was the first UFC fighter to make his stance known publicly and while he took a knee and raised his fist before the fight, he also took a team photo following his win over Menifield with everyone on the team raising their first.
Making an appearance with the On The Mic podcast, Clark addressed the decision to take a knee and raise his fist, and said he had the decision planned all week.
“Yeah, I was planning on taking a knee during my introduction and then when we did it afterwards that was my coach Chad Smith’s idea. He’s a white guy but he feels very strongly on the whole movement and just to support me and how I feel about it, and also my father. It was something I wanted to do, I did raise my fist at weigh-ins, I just felt like it was my time to make my stance on it, how I feel about it, and really for me it’s about unity, peace, and coming together. But it’s also we have to fix the issues and that’s fixing the policies and that goes by having better leadership.
Given that previously many professional athletes have received backlash from those around their respective leagues or others in the public media for taking a stand, Clark said he didn’t give any thought to potential backlash.
“No, I didn’t care at all, I didn’t even think about it really. I didn’t think about the backlash at all, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do, I didn’t ask anybody about it. I didn’t think about the repercussions, I just knew it was something for myself I needed to do, just to show my fans and people around the world that it’s alright to tell people how you feel and stick up for what is right.”
Looking for unity and calling for changes in policy around the nation, Devin Clark believes one way the country can come together is from a lesson told to many as kids.
“Just coming together, really it comes down to what everyone’s Mom told to do, treat others how you want to be treated, at the end of the day, that shit works. It’s never steered me wrong, I treat everyone how I want to be treated, I treat them with respect until they disrespect me, that’s how it should be… Treat people with respect until they show you otherwise.”
After making a statement at the weigh-ins, before his fight, and after his fight, Devin Clark said he didn’t hear from anyone with the UFC or from President Dana White which mattered to him.
“Yeah that is pretty nice, I think Dana [White] did say something like ‘I’ll let these guys use this platform to express themselves.’ and it is a nice thing cause why the hell not? Why can’t we do that? We’re individuals, it would be wrong if we couldn’t. I used my own intro to take a knee and there’s still people commenting on negative stuff but those are dipshits but I’ve gotten so much love over it. I used my own introduction, no disrespect to anybody, it couldn’t have disrespected anybody, that was how I felt at the moment and that’s what I did, I stand behind that. I thought I made a good decision doing it and it lets people know who I am.”
Although he was the first one to make a public stance on the unrest in the nation, he wasn’t alone in addressing it at UFC 250 as bantamweight Aljamain Sterling used his platform following his win to speak out as well. Clark added that he hopes other fighters follow suit.
“I really hope they do because there’s so much diversity in the UFC and this discrimination doesn’t stop at black and white, there’s countries all over the world that have the same issues. I hope these athletes do continue to use their platform.”
Now riding a two-fight winning streak and making a bigger statement about our current society in the country, and around the world, Devin Clark is sending messages all over. He has been given the freedom to do so, and no matter what the critics say about his decisions, he plans to continue moving forward with using his platform and his voice to push for better days among us all.