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5 Oz. Feature: Jesse Taylor still belongs in TUF 7 middleweight final

i1.jpgLas Vegas, Nevada — Thursday’s airing of the final taped episode for the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter” brought mixed emotions for me.

On one hand, I think Jesse Taylor is the biggest idiot in the world for blowing the biggest opportunity in his life over something as trivial as alcohol.

On the other hand, I think Taylor is a good person whose punishment might not necessarily fit the crime.

Taylor clearly deserved a reprimand of some kind for his post-TUF 7 celebration that, according to UFC President Dana White, involved kicking out the window of a limousine on Station Casinos property and then verbally accosting several of the casino’s female patrons.

White was one hundred percent correct in his assertion that Taylor’s behavior was unbecoming of a UFC fighter. And Taylor’s decision to commit such infractions on casino owned by the owners of the UFC clearly shows he lacks basic judgment abilities.

That said, I can’t help but wonder though if his decision to remove Taylor from the TUF 7 live finale and out of the UFC entirely was too much.

Taylor is neither the first fighter in the history of the UFC to get caught up in what industry insiders refer to as “the MMA lifestyle” and he’s not the first member of a TUF cast to ever destroy property.

Chuck Liddell has been depicted several times on video as being someone who might like to party a little too much. There have also been eyewitness accounts of him carousing in Las Vegas the night of/morning of a big fight. And when Liddell did his infamous Nyquil interview last year with a local television station, White felt compelled to go out to California and have a talk with his marquee star.

Not to mention, was it just several weeks ago where TUF 7 fighters were depicted causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the TUF Mansion simply because they were bored?

I realize the analogies aren’t perfect. For one, there are different conduct standards that apply to stars of the UFC in comparison to the fighters trying to break into the promotion. In this scenario, the UFC is no different than any other major sports organization when it comes to applying a double-standard.

I also realize the fighters caused their damage inside of the house as opposed to in public. So, since it was inside, the incident was only seen by million of television viewers as opposed to a few hundred patrons at a casino.

Oh wait, that doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Kind of like how it doesn’t make sense that Jon “War Machine” Koppenhaver was never formally disciplined for his arrest in San Diego for assault or the fact that Rob Emerson was welcomed back to the UFC with open arms even after his pre-UFC past as a suburban gangster in the “Lords of South County” (or is it “Lordz” with a “Z”?) was brought to light.

Does the decision to boot Taylor while Emerson and Koppenhaver are gainfully employed send the message that it’s okay to strike a person on property that is not owned by Frank or Lorenzo Fertitta but it’s not okay to kick a window out at a casino owned by the Fertittas?

I’m not sure what message it sends because I’m really confused. I’m not saying Koppenhaver or Emerson shouldn’t be in the UFC, merely that if they weren’t publicly reprimanded, why was Taylor? Unless there are some things Taylor did that are being covered up, the decision to remove him from the finale was too harsh.

White made the point that “these are guys that aren’t in the UFC, they are trying to be UFC fighters.” While I understand his point that they need to make the right decisions when trying to get hired by the UFC, I would counter that they are already in the UFC. Every fighter that appears on TUF signs a contract that gives Zuffa to the option to pick up their contract at the conclusion of taping.

Zuffa holds an option to use the fighter but the fighter doesn’t hold the option to fight for another promotion if his option is picked up. So in my eyes, Taylor was already property of the UFC and if the promotion has shown a willingness to offer second chances to other fighters on its roster, why not Taylor?

In the end, Taylor has nobody to blame but himself. I felt he came across as a good person on the show that simply had some maturity issues to work on. Hopefully he learned his lesson and will make changes in his lifestyle and hopefully the UFC gives him a second chance.

Based on some of the comments made by White when he was dismissing Taylor and Taylor’s video interview that was made available immediately after the show on Spike TV, I feel odds are good that he will indeed be given another shot. I just believe he should have been given that shot and allowed to compete in Saturday’s middleweight final.

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