Stephen A. Smith is the master of the bad take. His entire career is built off saying stupid and controversial things and then sitting back with a smug smile as sports fans froth at the mouth disagreeing with him. For years mixed martial arts has been spared of this, but that’s all changed since the ESPN-UFC broadcast deal has unfortunately brought him into our orbit.
Let’s be clear: Stephen A. Smith doesn’t know about MMA. He doesn’t care about MMA. He only shows up alongside Conor McGregor fights to chase clout and talk trash about guys he didn’t know existed a month earlier. Smith had the audacity to question Donald Cerrone’s heart after “Cowboy” got wrecked against McGregor – something that’s just a part of the sport, no matter how tough or prepared you are. Everyone rallied and even McGregor himself came out to spank Smith on that one.
Now Smith is back, and he’s dissing women’s MMA as a whole.
“When I think about pugilistic sports, I don’t like seeing women involved in that at all,” Smith said during a “Black on the Air” podcast. “I just don’t like it. I wouldn’t promote legislating laws to prohibit them from doing so, but I don’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, but that’s just me.”
It didn’t take long for the women of MMA to respond to his sexist take:
If you intend to continue giving Stephen A. Smith a platform to preach inequality in sports, you are taking an incredible risk in alienating fans and athletes alike. It is incredibly disappointing that you would promote a person who is so derisive women in sport @espnW
— Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) February 3, 2021
Female media members and fans also were not impressed with Smith’s comments:
Women have been fighting for their place in the world, in sports, in MMA since it all began.
It’s his opinion, yes. But when you have a massive platform, your words have influence to perpetuate the idea that women don’t belong in certain spaces, and that is wrong. https://t.co/519Nb4Obw9
— Alex Savas (@alexsavas) February 2, 2021
Men, stop telling women how to feel about sexism.
Thank you for attending my TED talk.
— Amy Kaplan (@PhotoAmy33) February 3, 2021
And a number of male fighters also stood up against Stephen A. Smith’s opinion:
At this point we really shouldn’t even get sucked into this game Smith is playing. It’s like that saying: never wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig likes it. But sometimes that pig just says things that are so dumb they need to be pushed back on.
Nothing brings the toxic MMA community together like hearing Stephen A. Smith’s bad takes on MMA.
— Echo Mars (@jenmillsap) February 3, 2021
February 23rd, 2021 will mark 8 years since the UFC’s first women’s fight, yet the women are still fighting for respect amongst fans and casuals alike. When the highest paid ‘analyst’ at ESPN spews garbage like this, he needs to be told what’s up. Get a clue, Stephen A. Smith.