Jackson-Wink photographer apologizes after calling Cyborg a man on social media
A photographer on staff at the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy today apologized on social media after referring to UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg as a man.
Mark Aragon, the famed gym’s media director, wrote (via Instagram): “I am embarrassed by my actions and I sincerely apologize to @criscyborg and her friends, fans, and most importantly her family for posting such an ugly misrepresentation of a great hard earned championship retention.
“I also want to apologize to the members of team (sic) Jacksonwink who were effected by that insincere post.”
The apology came one day after Aragon’s initial post triggered anger online, with several media members and MMA fans taking him to task for his words about Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who beat ex-UFC bantamweight champion and Jackson-Wink product Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) in the headliner of this past Saturday’s pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Aragon received a media credential for the event to take pictures. On Sunday, he morning posted a since-deleted photo – captured by multiple MMA media sites – of Cyborg at the event’s press conference with the caption, “This dude is tough as hell! That being said Holly was the first one to make his nose bleed! You are my hero @hollyholm see you back in the gym.”
Cyborg demanded an apology for the post, on Monday posting a screenshot of the message and writing (via Instagram): “It is not acceptable for an official representative of @hollyholm @jacksonwink_mma to call me transgender following my Fight. Their official photographer was given a backstage credential to attend the @UFC and I expect an apology or their ability to get credentials for future UFC events to be affected by these actions.”
Multiple requests for comment to gym founders Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn went unanswered on Monday. The controversy initially appeared to be ignored by Winkeljohn, who reposted an Instagram message mocking transgender bathroom laws before deleting it.
But by midday Monday, Aragon had posted his apology, attempting to explain why he used the offensive language. The gym’s official Facebook page also posted its own statement, attempting to diffuse the issue.
Aragon claimed he let his emotions get the better of him after sitting on a bus with Cyborg and her team on the way back to the event’s host hotel. He wrote that Cyborg laughed about a photo of her kicking Holm and claimed the champ called the challenger “the bitch” who “stayed and hugged her but she did nothing.”
“My personal emotions got in the way of my professional status which I failed to adhere to,” he wrote.
Aragon attempted to soften the blow of his words by by pointing out Cyborg’s prior to the fight. He said the champ’s repeated anti-doping accusations against Jackson-Wink fighters were “a totally fabricated lie and can’t be based on any merit whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, Jackson-Wink MMA’s official Facebook account seemed to justify Aragon’s remarks by detailing his backstory while also disavowing the language used.
“In response to our media person’s recent Instagram remark about Cyborg, there is a backstory as to why he made his comment,” read the statement (via Facebook). “After Cyborg’s victory, she was heard backstage by our media guy calling Holly a “Bi#%h” and laughing at a photo depicting her own toe in Holly’s eye. They were heard mocking Holly’s performance. Our media guy was defensive of our fighter and space and he used Cyborg’s past history of steroid use, in a knee jerk, response. We were unaware of all the backstage talk and his response on a public forum until yesterday. He regrets putting JW in this position. We don’t condone putting others down. Congratulations to Cyborg and her team and we look forward to a rematch.”
Cyborg’s victory over Holm solidified her status as the dominant presence in women’s MMA. Holm, who two years ago upended the sport with a knockout of Ronda Rousey, failed to deliver another huge upset in attempting to capture a second UFC belt 10 pounds above her usual weight class.
Despite her success, Cyborg has been repeatedly maligned by fans using gender-based insults. UFC President Dana White once infamously said she “looked like Wanderlei Silva in a dress,” prompting widespread criticism. After a long and rocky relationship, the promoter and fighter appeared to make ends earlier this year, and Cyborg signed a lucrative new deal that paid her a disclosed $500,000 to face Holm.
This story Jackson-Wink photographer apologizes after calling Cyborg a man on social media first appeared on MMA Junkie.