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Stephen A Smith

Jan 8, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; ESPN sports television personality Stephen A. Smith speaks before the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen A. Smith can have an opinion, and it can be completely wrong too

ESPN personality Stephen A Smith has not fared well in his time around the MMA community and his most recent hot take is without a doubt the worst one yet. Last year at UFC 246, Smith went on the UFC 246 post-fight show and said he felt Donald Cerrone quit inside the Octagon in his 40-second defeat to Conor McGregor, which was just absurd for someone like Smith to say, and the fighting community let him have it.

This week, Smith stole the headlines when he had not only an awful take but an absolute disrespectful one towards women, women in sports, and women in combat sports especially. Smith’s take, which has been misquoted and misinterpreted throughout social media is pretty simple and idiotic. In short, Smith said he didn’t want “to see women punching each other in the face. I don’t want to see women fighting in the Octagon and stuff like that.”

First, the comic relief in this. No one actually asked Stephen A Smith who he preferred to see in the Octagon, the fact of the matter is his employer, ESPN, and the UFC have a lucrative deal together and it’s his job as a professional broadcaster to do the homework on the sport and the athletes involved in it, men and women alike. It’s easy to drag Smith through the mud on this take, but instead of doing so in many words, here are some of the best female athletes in combat sports responding to him, including Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Cris Cyborg, and boxing champion Heather Hardy.

Again, Stephen A. Smith has not lined himself up for a great defense in the combat sports world, and his latest is doing him in favors in gaining any respect in a sport which he clearly doesn’t care to pay attention to unless the mega-stars are fighting. Heather Hardy took the point to a much more real point of view, that likely made a lot of people uncomfortable when she followed up about Smith’s comments.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir had an easier take in response to Smith’s comments, and he makes a valid point, there’s no reason to keep giving Smith a platform and he should be ignored, but this can’t be ignored. Some takes by personalities like Smith are easy to ignore but when it completely disrespects women and a whole part of the UFC roster, it must be addressed.

Amanda Nunes, Valentina Shevchenko, and Weili Zhang are all current UFC champions in the female divisions, Nunes holding the bantamweight and featherweight belt, Shevchenko the flyweight title, and Zhang being the strawweight champion. All three of them are elite athletes and no matter female or male, deserve respect, however, because they are female, they deserve even more respect.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and Smith has done enough in his career to get the platform he’s currently on but to blatantly disrespect a sport (MMA) and a major piece of the roster (female fighters) that is on the network that employs him, it’d be smart of Smith to either shut his mouth or start learning the sport. In fact, Stephen A. Smith shouldn’t be welcomed at just the big-ticket UFC events, he needs to be on fight nights and he needs to be around the fighters, women especially, who are giving their entire lives to compete in a cage, a decision not many men or women would make easily.

Every fighter in the UFC deserves respect but three of the very best fighters in the promotion are female, and Nunes might go down as one of the greatest fighters of all-time, no matter the gender. Not wanting to see women competing in a cage or getting punched in the face is one thing, and it’s not an opinion, it’s wrong, disrespectful, and downright disgusting, and Stephen A Smith should hold himself to a higher standard instead of continuing to lose credibility and respect.

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