On its face, it was a run-of-the-mill fight announcement. Beneath the surface, it unspooled a different narrative.
At UFC Fight Night 77 on Oct. 25, Swedish lightweight Reza Madadi will face Norman Parke in Dublin, according to a MMA Fighting report published Friday.
The 37-year-old Madadi (13-3) last fought in 2013 and scored an upset win over Michael Johnson in front of his home fans in Stockholm.
Why the two-year layoff? Back in August 2013, Madadi was convicted of aggravated burglary and sentenced to 18 months in a Swedish prison. The UFC released him shortly after the conviction.
I mean, we drove in a limousine one day, me and Alexander Gustafsson, went to some club to hit a little bit of pads, get paid for that. All of the sponsors, I was a famous guy here in Sweden. The day after, I was in some jail. They drove me in a police car, and my life changed. They cut my UFC contract. I lost my job, I couldn't see my wife when she was pregnant. I lost money. Everything. I lost everything over one night.
At least Madadi had a sense of humor about the situation.
Time to smash and grab some faces. The new sheriff is in town.— rezamaddog (@RezaMaddog) June 10, 2015
No one was hurt in the incident, and it is not unreasonable to believe that Madadi, popular among fight fans, particularly in Sweden, has learned his lessons, paid his debt and now deserves a second chance to make it in life and as a fighter.
However, his situation contrasts with those of other fighters who have been banished (and stayed banished) from the UFC for transgressions that are seemingly much less severe.
For example, back in 2010, UFC President Dana White banned welterweight Paul Daley after he sucker-punched opponent Josh Koscheck after the conclusion of their fight. Daley hasn't been allowed back since despite his repeated apologies. Daley is 14-4 since the incident, including nine wins by knockout. He is now under contract with Bellator, the UFC's top promotional rival.
In 2014, White released Jason High after his TKO loss to Rafael dos Anjos. After the bout, a frustrated High shoved referee Kevin Mulhall. High apologized shortly after the fight, but the release stood.
No one should or needs to downplay any offense of this nature. But as Madadi walks out of prison and back into the welcoming arms of the UFC, perhaps observers can be forgiven for failing to identify a pattern in terms of who among the rather substantial list of MMA offenders are worthy of a fresh start, and who are not.