Although Mixed Martial Arts is the world's fastest growing sport, and accelerating, there is a learning curve to appreciating it. A minority still view it with a jaundiced eye, as capured famously in Ariel Helwani's interview last year with boxing dinosaur Bob Arum.
"MMA Is Garbage," said Arum. "Itís fans are skinheads. Itís horrible, guys rolling around like homosexuals on the ground ... it is not a sport that shows great, great talent. The guys who throw punches canít throw a punch to save their ass, when the punches land the guys have no chins. These are not like boxers, they are not trained like boxers."
Thus it is all the more problematic when a fighter shows up at a major event with white power tattoos, a white power nickname, and has been convicted of a sex crime.
When Brandon "White Steel" Saling came out on the undercard, two tattoos unmistakably leapt out.
One tattoo is an 88, a Hitler reference. H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and thus 88 is HH or Heil Hitler. The term is used in greetings and closing comments of letters written by neo-Nazis, much like the word Aloha is used in Hawaiian, and now world culture (but with of course the opposite meaning).
The lighting bolts signify the Schutzstaffel (SS). The SS was one of the most powerful forces in Nazi Germany, fielding nearly 1,000,000 men on the front lines, as a political police, and in the concentration camps. As established in the Nuremberg Trials, the SS was responsible for the vast majority of Nazi war crimes, and in particular was the primary organization which carried out the Holocaust.
Saling is also a sex offender.
BRANDON CURTIS SALING
BYESVILLE OH 43723
Age: 25 Birthdate: 1986-01-28 Gender: M
Height: 5 ft. 10 in. Weight: 185
Alias(es): White NMN Steel
Identifying Marks: TATTOO ON ABDOMEN - White Steel; TATTOO ON RIGHT HAND - Stay; TATTOO ON CHEST - Never Scared; TATTOO ON LEFT HAND - Down; TATTOO ON BACK - Sailing; SCAR ON BACK - round with line rt shoulder; TATTOO ON LEFT SHOULDER - B88 with lighting bolt;
Hair Color: Red Eye Color: Green
Offense: gross sexual imposition
Risk Level: High
Offense and Court Details
According to Ohio state law, Gross Sexual Imposition occurs when a perpetrator forces a party to have sexual contact with another party against their will. The forced sexual contact is not with the offender.
The offender perpetrates this by using force, threatening to use force or intentionally impairing the victimís judgment. A perpetrator can impair a victimís judgment by drugging him or him until they reach a state of unconsciousness, allowing the perpetrator to oblige them to engage in sexual activity.
Gross sexual imposition occurs when the victim is younger than thirteen years of age, whether or not the perpetrator is aware of the victimís real age.
The conviction stems from an incident in October of 2004, when Staling, then 18, was indicted on one count of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct, a first-degree felony, in connection with the **** of a person under 13.
The charges followed an investigation by the Noble County Sheriff's Office into the weekend disappearance of a 12-year-old girl and her 13-year-old sister. According to Noble County Sheriff Landon T. Smith, the girls parents had allowed them to go to an all-night birthday party at a friend's house.
"When the parents went to pick up their daughters, they discovered they had left the party during the night," Smith said. "The suspects allegedly had shown up at the birthday party and asked the girls to go for a ride with them. Then they were not returned to the birthday party." Following an extensive search, Smith said the girls were located in a camper in Stock Township.
Brandon C. Saling and James T. Allen, also 18, who were each charged with **** of a person under 13 years old.
Saling also picked up a domestic violence charge in 2008 and had to serve a further 40 days in jail.
UFC President Dana White was asked about the tattoos via Twitter:
@danawhite wtf is the deal with having a neo nazi in one of your organizations? Get that f----- Salin the hell out of there.
we are looking into it. I'm in AUS and just called over there to see if that's true
At the post fight press conference, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker addressed the issue.
"We had no knowledge about that until someone brought it up to us this evening," said Coker. "It came to our attention during the course of the fights."
"(The Ohio State Athletic Commission is) going to launch a full investigation on Monday. So that's where that's at. As you guys know, the policy for Strikeforce and the UFC is that kind of body art and offensive behavior ... is not going to be allowed.
"We went to the athlete ... He responded, and we're going to investigate further and see what the truth is."
Coker declined to relay how Saling responded, but said he would share the investigation's outcome when it is complete.
Ohio AC Executive Director Bernie Profato, among the most respected commissioners in North America, has contacted the Ohio Attorney General's Office, which will look into the allegations on Monday. Profato said Saling will be notified that he potentially faces suspension of his license, and that he will be given the opportunity to defend himself at a meeting in April.
Although the bout was not on the main card, it was televised nationally as part of the undercard that aired live on Showtime Extreme.
It is fortunate that Saling's opponent, Roger Bowling, was also caucasian. It is also fortunate that Saling lost, via TKO in the second round. Hsd Saling's opponent been black or Jewish or some other group that hate groups hate, the spectacle of a neo Nazi beating a minority in a cage would have been truly bad for the sport, and humanity.