UFC star Israel Adesanya apologized after saying he’d “f–king rape” fellow fighter Kevin Holland while trash-talking him in a since-deleted video.
In a statement, the Nigerian-born New Zealand MMA fighter said he “crossed the line” and he understands the gravity of what he said.
The statement on Adesanya’s official Twitter account reads: “Last week fight talk escalated to a point in which I crossed the line. I understand the gravity of this word and how it can affect and hurt other people apart from my opponent, although that was never my intention. I am still growing under the spotlight, and I take this as a lesson to be more selective with words under pressure.
Adesanya made the rape comments in response to trash talking by another fighter Kevin Holland, who had targeted him with a series of insulting remarks last week.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson criticised Adesanya saying there was never a time to make flippant comments about rape.
New Zealand’s deputy prime minister, Grant Robertson, who is also the sports minister, blasted the middleweight champ and called on the UFC to take action.
He said: “There is never a time to make flippant comments about rape. It’s just not something anybody should do.
“I’m sure Israel understands that. I believe he has deleted the tweet in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do.
“But I would certainly be making clear to him, and to anybody actually, that we have to take rape seriously.
“It’s not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all.”
Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill also told NZ outlet Stuff: “People with a large social media following can play a significant role in reducing rates of sexual violence and creating healthy cultures of consent for any sexual activity.
“Conversely, this kind of comments where rape is used as a threat create a culture where it is acceptable to make sexualised comments with the potential to cause further harm.
“Sportspeople and celebrities can really influence young people, we would like to see this happen in a positive way, not misused and normalising threats of sexual violence.”