Social media’s accessibility and ease-of-use has made it possible for public figures to converse with each other, their fans, their detractors, and pundits alike instantaneously — something that was either more difficult, or entirely impossible via more conventional means of communication.

The immediacy of publishing 140 character mini-blogs has made Twitter the social media platform of choice for millions of people worldwide, professional Mixed Martial Artists included.

The use of Twitter by UFC fighters has not only been permitted, it has been encouraged. At the UFC’s third annual fighter summit in May of 2011, it was announced that UFC brass would begin doling out an additional fighter bonus (along with the traditional post-fight bonuses): a Twitter bonus.

Categories include most creative tweet, most followers, and largest follower growth percentage. Four fighters are recognized in each category, with each winner receiving a $5,000 bonus cheque.

And the chance at winning a little extra pocket change has had an influence on the organizations’ fighters. Each of the eight current UFC champions are not only active on Twitter, they’ve proven to be quite popular as well:

Demetrious Johnson — Flyweight Champion

-      23.5k followers

-      3,098 tweets

Dominick Cruz — Bantamweight Champion

-      64.7k followers

-      4,800 tweets

Jose Aldo — Featherweight Champion

-      142.2k followers

-       3,196 tweets

Benson Henderson — Lightweight Champion

-      74.2k followers

-      16,100 tweets

Georges St. Pierre — Welterweight Champion

-      500.6k followers

-      767 tweets

Anderson Silva — Middleweight Champion

-      2.5m followers

-      2,088 tweets

Jon Jones — Light Heavyweight Champion

-      475.3k followers

-      8,398 tweets

Junior Dos Santos — Heavyweight Champion

-      395.8k followers

-      4,265 tweets

 

That’s a total of more than 4,176,300 followers and 42,712 individual tweets; a lot of thoughts documented in 140 characters or less.

And while Twitter, and socially media in general, is often lauded as an effective vehicle for people around the world to connect to one another, UFC fighters, like many others, have often found themselves in trouble due to the questionable propriety of the thoughts they have chosen to share with the world via Twitter.

The lack of a moderator and the constant access to social media through smartphones has led to a high volume of thoughts being shared, as evidenced by the staggering statistics mentioned earlier. The following is a roundup of UFC fighter Tweets that have, for better or worse, invoked collective conversation between fellow fighters, the media, and fans.

Rapegate

@ForrestGriffin

Rape is the new missionary

@MiguelTorresMMA

If a rape van was called a surprise van more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.

Both Griffin and Torres received some backlash because of their insensitivities toward sexual abuse victims. Though he wasn’t disciplined by the UFC, Forrest Griffin visited a rape crisis centre to demonstrate his apologetic empathy; while Torres was fired and subsequently re-hired by the organization once he agreed to attend rape sensitivity courses (he released once again following a knockout loss).

Not a Grappling Tournament

Following his second round submission loss at UFC 152 this weekend, Igor Pokrajac took to Twitter to vent his frustration:

@igorpokrajac

If I wanted to do a grappling match I would go on a grappling tournament. This is MMA, and UFC fans want a fight

He later apologized and retracted the statement.

@igorpokrajac

Sorry to all MMA fans on my fast tweet after the fight, was pist off because of my mistake i lost the fight. VInny did his best

The Rally

While many fighters have misused the social media platform only to regret it later on, Twitter has been used to achieve positive results as well. One such case was the “Rally for Mark Hunt” campaign.

Following Alistair Overeem’s failed drug test and removal from his title fight against Junior Dos Santos in April, fans flooded Dana White’s Twitter account with pleas for fan-favourite Mark Hunt to replace Overeem.

The movement was eventually put to bed by Dana White, who informed the media at a press conference following UFC on Fuel 2 that, “it ain’t gonna happen.”

Though the rally was short-lived, it proved that social media can bring issues to the attention of those who have the ability to do something about it. It may have been the first public “rally” for a fighter, but it certainly won’t be the last. And who knows, maybe next time it will prove successful.

The Feud

Before the cancellation of UFC 151, Middleweight contender and perennial loudmouth, Chael Sonnen and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones, engaged in a war of words over Twitter.

@sonnench

Boarding plane to Oregon now, home of your corporate wage masters. Next time you are in town, knock on my door. Don’t drive

@jonnybones

The things you say about me hold absolutely no weight

Many believed Sonnen’s seemingly out-of-nowhere provocation of the champion was due to Chael knowing that Dan Henderson was injured and would have to drop out of UFC 151 spot against Jones. Regardless, the feud was successful, as Dana White offered Jones a fight with Sonnen once it was officially announced that Henderson could not compete.

We all know the fight never took place, as Jones refused to fight Sonnen, but it appears that a potential clash may still come to fruition at some point in the near future. If Sonnen has anything to say about it, at least. The feud continued yesterday as Chael another in a long list of cheap-shots at the current champ:

@sonnench

Hey Jon, What do you think will cost more? Your hospital tab or the settlement you made with the two broads from the backseat?

Twitter certainly has its uses and, as evidenced in this post, can also land users in some deep trouble. One thing for certain, however, is that it will continue to serve as an integral marketing tool for fighters and a way for fans to convese with fighters.