Meryl Streep’s attack on President-elect Donald Trump included what many considered to be unnecessary insults towards football and mixed martial arts.
In her speech at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, Streep mentioned that Hollywood is full of foreigners, and that if they’re kicked out, all people will have to watch is football and mixed martial arts. She then said both sports are “not the arts.”
Quite a few people in the MMA community were understandably upset and issued their own responses.
White has never been afraid to speak his mind, so it should come as no surprise that he referred to Streep as an “uppity, 80-year-old lady,” which he said isn’t exactly the top demographic for MMA. He then called her comments uneducated and defended the talents of professional fighters. The UFC president did pay her a bit of a compliment to make a point, as he said that her statement was comparable to someone saying Streep wasn’t a talented actress, because she clearly is.
Bellator MMA president Scott Coker, who has typically kept a cooler head than White, was more diplomatic in a statement that he posted on Twitter. He introduced himself as a lifelong fan of Streep’s work, a lifelong martial artist, and a promoter. He explained that MMA celebrates the achievements of fighters who dedicate their lives towards honing their art.
In a classy and smart gesture, Coker invited Streep to the next Bellator MMA event, which takes place in Los Angeles on January 21.
The responses of White and Coker have received the bulk of the media’s attention because they are the presidents of the two largest MMA organizations, and because they are two of the bigger names in the sport (particularly White, who has been the face of the UFC for over a decade). However, several others have also issued their own statements.
UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett posted a statement on Facebook criticizing Streep for her demeanor and explaining that while MMA may not have the “upper class air” that acting does, that doesn’t mean it’s not an art. UFC flyweight Zachary Makovsky chose the high road, saying that he disagreed with her regarding what is an art but thought the rest of her speech was lovely. Megan Olivi, a UFC host and reporter who is also married to UFC flyweight Joseph Benavidez, pointed out the irony in Streep rallying against discrimination while then discriminating against a group of people.
The funniest response came courtesy of the World Series of Fighting. On Twitter, the organization said that while MMA may not be one of the “arts,” neither was “Ricki and the Flash” (one of Streep’s less successful movies). There was also this hilarious Twitter mashup (NSFW) where someone edited a Conor McGregor press conference soundbite reacting to Streep’s comments.
It remains to be seen if Streep will issue a follow-up statement regarding her MMA comments. The reception to her speech has been positive among most of the general public, so she may not feel the need.