Signed ostensibly to bolster its talent-starved heavyweight division, the UFC may have a public relations problem in new acquisition Cody East.
East, 27, has faced several serious criminal charges over the years, including sexual assault, rape (of which he was acquitted), and child abuse and battery (of which he was convicted), Mookie Alexander of BloodyElbow.com reports.
The latter incident apparently involved East's parents hosting a party in 2007 where underage teenagers were served alcohol. East allegedly attacked some of the girls, as well as his mother and father. When police arrived on the scene, he was allegedly holding a knife and reportedly told the deputies later that he wanted them to kill him.
In December 2008, East was sentenced to three years in prison on the child abuse and battery charges.
In response to the report, East's manager, Jason House, released a short statement wherein he confirmed that the UFC did its due diligence:
The UFC conducted an extensive background check on Cody before offering him the opportunity to compete in the UFC. We submitted every document and statement regarding his legal past to their attorneys for review.
This isn't the first time the UFC has missed troublesome issues when adding fighters to the roster. In 2013, Benjamin Brinsa was revealed to have neo-Nazi ties; in 2014, Michael Imperiato was caught on video uttering homophobic and racist slurs; and Will Chope was discharged from the Air Force in 2009 for verbally and physically assaulting his ex-wife.
Brinsa and Imperiato were cut before making their debuts and Chope was released after a single appearance.
East is expected to face Walt Harris at UFC 197 on April 23.