There aren't many non-athletes in the world of sport who can "stir the pot" quite like UFC President Dana White. While many people know his current exploits, fewer fans know what life was like prior to his current leadership of the UFC. Born in Connecticut, he was raised primarily by his mother and developed an interest in boxing throughout his youth. He quit his job at age 19 with the goal of getting into the business of fighting.
For several years he ran gyms, taught boxing, worked as a referee and of course, managed some boxers as well. While working in Boston, he had a run-in with some mobsters working for the infamous "Whitey" Bulger (the man whose story is told in Black Mass) and rather than potentially fight that particular fight, he moved to Las Vegas. It was there that he ran into Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, who were involved in the casino business, but wanted to work their way into fight sports.
While managing fighters, including Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, during the years of the UFC's infancy, White learned that the company that owned UFC at the time, Semaphore, was looking to sell, as the promotion wasn't a big money maker yet. He brought the idea to the Fertittas who bought the promotion in January 2001 and held it until selling to WME-IMG last year.
The rapid growth and success of the UFC is in no small part due to Dana White's work ethic, charisma, management savvy and his ability to attract attention. A gifted businessman, Dana White is by no means a diplomatic figure, and has found himself in the sights of journalists, trainers, and even his own fighters. He has also alienated some people and painted many people as enemies as well. Here are ten people Dana White thoroughly hates, and five more who hate him.
15 Dana Hates: Nevada State Athletic Commission
Like any entrepreneur with a good product and a brain in their head, Dana White has very little patience and respect for the bureaucratic garbage-heap that regulates combat sports in Nevada. While he's had his issues with New York recently, there's no secret about his distrust, dislike and even hatred for the NSAC. A decent sized book could be written about his run-ins with them, but instead, we'll just stick to a few of the most entertaining. Most recently, White, who as we said is an avid boxing fan and has worked in that sport for decades, called out NSAC for the controversial decision after Manny Pacquiao fought Tim Bradley. White and many others chose Pacquiao as the winner, but the judges called the bout in favor of Bradley. This has happened more times than we care to count in MMA, particularly some close title fights, including Georges St Pierre's win over Johny Hendricks. White has also voiced his dissent with regard to NSAC's treatment of certain fighters including Nick Diaz, who was suspended for marijuana use a couple of years ago.
14 Dana Hates: Greg Jackson
Hate may be a strong word here, but Dana White is not a fans of trainer Greg Jackson. His criticism of Jackson echoes the words of many fans however. For some background for people unfamiliar with this name, Greg Jackson is one of the most renowned and controversial trainers in the sport. He is a co-founder of Jackson-Wink MMA Academy, and has coached numerous champions.
White held Jackson responsible for the cancellation of UFC 151, a massive black eye on the history of the promotion. Jon Jones was set to face Dan Henderson, but Henderson injured his knee, and had to be removed from the card. Jones (allegedly at the advice of Jackson) refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice and the event was cancelled. Dana White was furious and called Jackson a sport-killer.
Here's another problem for Dana and many fans: Jackson's fighters often game plan ruthlessly, rather than just stepping in the octagon and brawling. Brawling is very entertaining but Greg Jackson's strategizing has produced great results. Dana has often criticized his fighters for making the sport "boring."
13 Hates Dana: Nate Diaz (Maybe Both Diaz Brothers?)
This may be a recent hatred, but the Diaz brothers, particularly Nate, seem to have a powerful hatred on for Dana White right now. While Nate Diaz' last two fights were a 1-1 split with fellow smack-talker Conor McGregor in March and August 2016, he hasn't bothered to fight since. Nick on the other hand was on a three fight losing skid, having been beaten by Carlos Condit and Georges St Pierre in 2012 and 2013, and the losing to Anderson Silva, although the loss was overturned, with both fighters testing positive for banned substances. Nick was initially suspended for five years, but that ban was brought down to eighteen months. He could have fought last August, but has yet to accept a bout.
Dana White has mentioned in the past few months that he doesn't know whether either of them will ever fight again. Nick has remained relatively quiet, but Nate, who White had accused of turning down fights, offered this on Twitter a few months ago "This f**ker can't stop making sh*t up about me and I haven't been offered any fights except the one laughed at." Who is telling the truth? Who Knows? Either way, it seems Nate isn't Dana's biggest fan these days.
12 Dana Hates: Certain Refs
Much like the UFC President has very little patience for the NSAC, he also has certain big-name referees that have been on the receiving end of his harsh words over the last few years. While he has blown up at "Big" John McCarthy in the past, we left him off the list because for the most part, Dana and McCarthy have had little in the way of disagreements recently.
The most recent is Mario Yamasaki, who prematurely called the fight between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee. Lee had Chiesa in a pretty tight looking choke, and while it looked like it was a done deal, many, including White, argued that the call was a very quick stoppage saying on Instagram “This guy is more concerned with doing this dumb ass heart bullsh** then Ref'n the fight!!! Nobody gives a sh** that u can make a heart with ur hands like a 12 year old girl they want u to pay attention to what's going on in the fight and do ur job.” Similar comments were made about Steve Mazzagatti and Yves Lavigne in the past and back in 2011, he let off on Joe Cortez, a boxing ref who did an atrocious job of officiating the Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Victor Ortiz fight.
11 Dana Hates: Randy Couture
"The Natural," who had one of the most prolific careers in the history of mixed martial arts, is a Hall of Fame inductee, but he and Dana White have not been on good terms for some time. Part of the issue was Couture's contract dispute in 2007, but what stung Dana was Randy's hasty departure from the UFC after his fighting career. He was believed to have signed on as a color commentator, but then apparently refused to talk to Dana about his deal, especially during a period of uncertainty while there were rumors of Couture having signed contracts to commentate with other promotions. When asked for his feelings regarding Couture, White said in 2015: "I don't respect him at all. Not even a little bit. Randy Couture, the only time Randy Couture is a man is when he sets foot in the cage. As soon as his big toe steps out of that cage, he's the furthest thing from it. That's it, that's the way I feel about it."
10 Hates Dana: Ariel Helwani
One of the most respected and reliable journalists in the sport of MMA, Ariel Helwani has been at odds with Dana White for some time. While we imagine he has a great deal of disgust for the UFC President, Helwani is a consummate professional and hasn't let any foul language slip. The entire ordeal started when Helwani did what a good journalist is supposed to do, he announced, as he has done a few times, something that pissed Dana White and the UFC off quite a bit. The announcement came ahead of UFC 199, and he told fans that Brock Lesnar would be returning to MMA for UFC 200. Dana White had him escorted out by security and slapped him with a lifetime ban from the promotion. This was later lifted. More recently the two have squared off on whether White and the UFC treat fighters well and how many fighters may be underpaid. White considers Helwani a thorn in his side, and we really could have listed this under "people Dana hates" as it seems to be very mutual.
In early July, the UFC apparently ordered Helwani be removed from the Mayweather/McGregor coverage leading up to their fight in late August.
9 Dana Hates: Fedor Emelianenko
"The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko is well past his prime these days, losing last month in just over a minute to Matt Mitrione in Bellator, but through the 2000's there was no more dominant fighter. Fedor amassed a 29 fight win streak, including wins over Antonio Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman, Tim Sylvia, and Andre Arlovski, just to name a few.
Dana White has said that he doesn't hate Fedor, but after trying to get the guy to fight in the UFC for years, we have to imagine that while there is some respect there, animosity is still present. Emelianenko has implied in the past the he was willing to sing on with UFC but that Dana's own personal dislike of him and his team got in the way of the plan.
8 Dana Hates: Jon Jones (For Now)
Like quite a few names on this list, "hate" may not be the perfect word. In a few days time (this being written two days before a major event), Jonny Bones might be Dana's best friend (they're both fickle that way), as he is taking on Daniel Cormier for the Light Heavyweight strap. Jones may be the greatest of all time in the eyes of some commentators and plenty of fans, but he has caused Dana White some real problems. As we mentioned earlier, Dana blames Jones and coach Greg Jackson for the cancellation of UFC 151. Jones also tarnished the UFC brand when he was arrested for a DUI back in 2012, failing a drug test due to cocaine use, and who could forget his hit and run?. More recently, his bout with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 was cancelled over a failed drug test. At that point, Dana White was furious and promised that Jones would never headline another event. That promise was of course absolute BS, but we can conclusively say that at one point, Dana White mercilessly hated Jon Jones.
7 Hates Dana: Tons of UFC Fans
Okay we kind of cheated on this one, but the point still has to be made. MMA fans can be found everywhere, and in all walks of life, but there are two distinct types of fans when it comes to the incredibly important topic of match-making. There are two schools of thought, and Dana White does everything he can to try to appease everyone, but he has a tight rope to walk in terms of the balancing act he has to perform between rewarding contenders and making the sport a great spectacle.
Some UFC fans think that big fights should only be given to the elite contenders who have proven themselves, while others recognize and embrace having the talkers and big name fighters in big money fights because they fill seats. Dana White often plays favorites with certain fighters, including Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor (just to name a couple among many), and this practice, while it does make money, has alienated many UFC fans who would rather not see the promotion turn into something like professional wrestling and just want to see pure competition.
6 Dana Hates: Loretta Hunt
Loretta Hunt is a writer and journalist who has co-authored books with Randy Couture and ref John McCarthy. She was writing for Sherdog when Dana White went after her. She had produced an article about UFC fighters and their management and whether or not management was allowed behind the scenes during events. It was obviously more complicated than just that, but the details are unimportant for our purposes. She got some stuff wrong, but Dana White let her have it, with a video tirade that included several homophobic slurs and various unkind words that led to the necessity of an apology.
Here's a small taste: "Whoever gave you that quote is a p**** and a f***ing f***** and a f***ing liar. If you’re going to write a story – you f***ing moron – at least make sure it’s true and have some facts. If you’re going to put some quotes in there, get some quotes from people who at least have some f***ing balls to put their f***ing name on it. Anything that comes out of your mouth Loretta, is f***ing stupid. You f***ing dumb b****. F*** you Loretta Hunt!” She is one of a few journalists who have received this kind of treatment from Dana.
5 Dana Hates: Ben Askren
If you ignore promotions that are not the UFC, this will not be a familiar name, but those who are familiar know he is arguably the best Welterweight outside of the UFC. A former Olympian wrestler and BJJ brown belt, Ben Askren is a former Bellator champion and currently holds the Welterweight title for ONE FC. He's currently undefeated and while we haven't seen him against elite UFC talent, he has a brilliant career going right now.
He's hinted in the past that he'd like a shot in the UFC, but he's often been a subject for Dana's tirades, once being referred to as "an absolute moron" and essentially claiming that everything Askren does is a knock off of what UFC icon Tito Ortiz used to do. Two years ago, White said that Askren had no interest in fighting in the UFC because ONE FC was paying him well to fight lesser fighters, in response to criticism over the UFC's hiring of wrestler CM Punk. Askren claimed this was a blatant lie.
4 Hates Dana: Luke Rockhold
It has been over a year since former Middleweight champ Luke Rockhold lost his belt to Michael Bisping, who took the fight on short notice and shocked the MMA world. He is expected to return to the octagon in September against former World Series of Fighting Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champ David Branch.
He has had words with Dana White twice in the past couple of years, and neither time has been nice. Back in 2015, shortly after Rockhold choked out Lyoto Machida, Dana made a comment about American Kickboxing Academy, the gym at which Rockhold trains primarily, being "stone age" for their intense training regimen that often leads to injured fighters. Rockhold responded by essentially saying they were the best camp in the world and that other peoples' opinions are irrelevant.
Back in May, when the idea of Georges St Pierre taking on Michael Bisping for the Middleweight championship was looking likely, Rockhold took to Twitter to question such a decision. White and Rockhold had an unfriendly back and forth that included Luke telling the president "think before you run your mouth" and Dana countering with "stick to fighting and modeling and leave the matchmaking to us."
3 Dana Hates: Tito Ortiz (and his wife)
UFC Hall of Famer and one of the greats of the early days of the sport of MMA, Tito Ortiz, like a few others we've spoken of, could have been listed under either "hates Dana" or "hated by Dana." Their animosity is very mutual. As we mentioned earlier, Dana used to manage Tito prior to becoming UFC's president, and The Huntington Beach Bad Boy was the promotion's first money-making, seat-filling bad guy (heel, if we can appropriate a wrestling term, we'd rather not though).
The two have had a lengthy feud that has gone on for years and while it has cooled off to some extent, they really hated each other for a while after Tito left the UFC. Back in March the two of them told different versions of the same story in which they beat each other senseless on a plane. Obviously we don't know who to believe, and while there is likely still some animosity on both ends of this relationship, it is most definitely a love-hate one.
Dana didn't help himself when he and Jenna Jameson, Tito's then-wife, had it out on Twitter, an argument which finished with Dana telling Tito to keep her "on a f**kin' leash," a hilarious thing to tell him given her previous career.
2 Dana Hates: Bob Arum
While he is a mixed martial arts promoter, Dana White grew up boxing, worked in the business, and still has a profound love for the sport. One of the prominent figures in boxing who has consistently been the target for White's attacks is promoter Bob Arum. Arum has been accused of corruption, Floyd Mayweather has claimed Arum mismanaged him, and White's criticism of him became vicious when he blasted the management of the De La Hoya vs Floyd Mayweather Jr. event back in 2007. Since then, there has been an ongoing war of words between the two, with White calling Arum "a piece of sh**" and "the biggest dirtbag in all of sports". Arum seldom has anything to say in response (most of White's criticisms are valid) but he did once say mixed martial artists look "like homosexuals" and that MMA fans are skinheads.
1 Hates Dana: Al Iaquinta
Lightweight Al Iaquinta has been on a tear for the past few years, and is 8-1 since losing to Michael Chiesa at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 15 back in 2012. His more recent wins include knockouts of Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, and just a couple of months ago, Diego Sanchez, who he put away in just over a minute and a half.
He's very vocal and has taken to Twitter quite a bit to let everyone know how fed up he is with the UFC, the Reebok deal, and of course, Dana White. Back in April, just a week after his fight with Sanchez (in which he did not get Knockout of the Night honors, much to his vicious dismay), he called Dana White "the Warrior King that never was one" in response to a Men's Health cover depicting Dana with the caption "The UFC's Warrior King."