So, something strange happened last weekend at UFC Fight Night in Hollywood, Florida. But — not during the fights.
I write, of course, of that odd post-fight interview with Cuban born, Florida based middleweight Yoel Romero.
In case you missed it, after scoring an impressive third round TKO of Lyoto Machida in the evening’s main event, Romero took the microphone to rant, in broken and unclear English, about… well, something. That’s where the confusion begin.
Here’s the video, for anyone who missed it:
(This was cut from Fox Sports 1’s rebroadcast of the event last night.)
Here’s my transcription:
“I want to say something. Maybe, I try in English. So sorry — I’m not, the people understand me, but I’m trying. Hey! Hey USA! Hey Miami! Hey Florida! Listen people, listen listen listen! Hey, what happen to you, USA? What happen to you? What’s going on you, forget from the best of the best in the world! The name is Jesus Christ! What happen to you, what come USA? Go, go back for you go! Go for Jesus! No forget Jesus, people!”
That last sentence seems to be a point of contention for some (including Bloody Elbow’s Karim Zidan) who heard “no for gay Jesus” — which, of course, doesn’t make any sense, but certainly sounds crass.
And, to be fair, the timing is important here; as the bout was only a day after the US Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex unions recognized as marriages was unconstitutional.
(Still I don’t think there’s much to it. Notice, among all his issues with English diction here, Romero also leaves out the “t” sound as he says “Christ?” No one seemed to notice.)
Mostly, I think some folks on Twitter who had spent the day celebrating that decision — and also haven’t heard too many Cuban accents — read a bit too far into things.
But could he have been referencing the Supreme Court’s decision? Possibly.
That’s not what he said at the press conference though.
This time, Romero spoke, wisely, with the help of a Spanish interpreter:
Here’s my transcript:
“First, I would like to apologize if there was a misunderstanding. First of all, I’m a man of God, and God is love. My expressions are always going to be about love. What I was trying to say in the Octagon, is look for the American Dream. There was a misunderstanding about gays, or something else. I want to say something. God told Mary Magdalene, you’re a prostitute; go and sin no more. And he told her with love, who am I to judge anybody?
Even though I didn’t refer to that, I would tell you guys something. God made man to be free, anybody could do whatever they want. I wouldn’t be the type of person to critique anybody; I have to look at myself first — be a better person. To be able to love people. I didn’t refer to anybody.
What I was trying to day, United States, thank you for giving me the American Dream. There’s no better country than this because it is blessed by God. It’s on the dollar that this country was made by Christians. That means it’s blessed by God. Thank you, USA.”
The above was taken by some that Romero was declaring that he indeed supported the Supreme Court’s decision. You may notice he doesn’t actually say that, only that he won’t critique or judge anyone. Obviously, one can do all that and still define marriage differently from the US Supreme Court.
A lot of us do. Yes — us. Since Ben Fowlkes is up-front about his anti-religion bias, I should be honest about being a Roman Catholic here; and having views in line with the Church on the matter. Maybe that colors my reasoning here.
If you speak Spanish, you may also notice the translator added “marriage” to Romero remarking, “I was misunderstood to be speaking about gays, or something.” That’s at about the 2:50 mark.
That aside, a lot of confusion remains from his explanation. It’s still a bit unclear what the first speech has to do with “The American Dream.” He could have had poverty (certainly an issue in South Florida) on his mind when he began this rant. For a man who associates the US with being “blessed by God,” maybe he sees a parallel there — does he see others missing out on the American Dream?
Maybe he does feel like the country is moving away from religion and wants us to come back. And sure, maybe the Supreme Court ruling plays into that. It’s not exactly what he said — but, maybe.
Is anything wrong with that? A lot of people think so, and they’re entitled their beliefs too. Most of the country seems to support the Supreme Court’s decision today. Many of them, including our country’s commander-in-chief, were on the opposite side of the issue only a few years ago. They’re entitled that, too.
Whatever it is, after causing the fuss on social media, it’s clear Romero didn’t want to go into much detail at the presser. He spoke of the American Dream and not judging anyone.
So, as confused as I am, I’m taking him at his word. I just hope he chooses his own words more wisely next time.