WME-IMG bought UFC for $4 billion in 2016 and we’ve already seen the effects of the deal. Long time bookmaker Joe Silva and announcer Mike Goldberg are no longer with the company but one man still is, Dana White. Regardless of which company owns UFC, the image of the brand and sales are the most important things at the end of the day.
Just because the UFC has reached mainstream culture doesn’t mean there aren’t critics of the company and MMA in general. While White and UFC promote their brand as a friendly and exciting product, detractors want to convince you that it’s not okay to reward violence. With the UFC having a long history, many incidents have happened involving former and current employees of the company. White and the UFC would rather fans not remember or check out these incidents, especially novices who are on the fence about the sport.
For a long time, UFC had a stigma of being that ugly duckling. White has spent years making the UFC brand what it is today and he doesn’t tolerate anyone who will tarnish that brand. Like all companies, the UFC isn’t perfect, but they try their best to make you believe so.
15 Yoel Romero's "Accident"
Yoel Romero did nothing wrong, unless he purposely decided to poop himself to distract his opponent Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Philippou. You can even make the case he was the victim of a bad combination of chili and beans. Regardless, human waste isn’t attractive and people will be turned off from the sport if these type of incidents happen more often. Also, you don’t want people laughing and being distracted from the actual fight.
The UFC has battled many critics who don’t believe this to be a serious sport, so having poop on national television doesn’t help. Romero not only relieved himself but also won the fight by TKO and earned the Fight of the Night award. The former Olympian has been on fire ever since the fight and may very well be the next UFC Middleweight Champion.
14 Chuck Liddell Going Night Night
Chuck "Iceman" Liddell was focused and energetic inside a UFC octagon, however, the same cannot be said when promoting a movie on a television show. Representing the UFC and promoting the movie 300, Liddell sleept through questions on WFAA’s Good Morning Texas back in 2007. It was a pretty embarrassing moment for Liddell and the UFC as the former champion would be seen slurring words and falling asleep.
Liddell probably wasn’t drunk, but he definitely had something in his system to make him to act this way. The host even asked if he was okay, that’s how bad it was. The UFC doesn’t want to be embarrassed and we’re pretty sure they don’t want one of their Hall of Fame fighters looking like a fool on television.
13 UFC 33: Victory to Vegas
It’s considered the worst UFC card ever under Dana White and the UFC would rather you didn't watch the event. At the time, MMA was still a mystery to many in the United States and this card did not help bring in new consumers. In fact, it did the exact opposite as many complained about the slow paced, boring fights. It was Zuffa’s third show and first in Las Vegas, so the company tried to stack the card with multiple title fights.
The original main event involved Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz versus Vitor Belfort, but the latter had to back out. Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko replaced Belfort and ended up having one of the most boring matches ever with Ortiz. The other two title fights involved Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver versus Dennis Hallman and Middleweight Champion Dave Menne versus Gil Castillo, both having equally bad fights. Dana White is quoted saying every fight on the card was boring. The event wasn’t a good way to make a debut in Las Vegas.
12 That Family Member You Never Talk About
Even though Joe Son never had a contract under Dana White, the former actor is still part of the UFC family history. Son would be a corner man for Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 3 and would make his debut as a black belt at UFC 4. He proclaimed his Jo Son Do style was the best, however, he would lose to Keith Hackney in the first round of the tournament. His match was a brutal one as Hackney would legally strike his groin multiple times before submitting Son.
During the 90s, many anti-MMA advocates argued the sport was praising violent and crazy people. Son neither helped the image of MMA nor the UFC when he was arrested in 2008 for felony vandalism. His DNA was then linked to a 1990 gang sexual assault, where he was found guilty. In 2011, he killed his cellmate and it’s safe to say the UFC doesn’t want any connection to the guy.
11 Don't Mess With Arianny
The UFC doesn’t just care about their fighters staying out trouble, but all employees. Arianny Celeste is arguably their most popular ring girl and has been with the company since 2006. In 2012, Celeste was partying before getting into a brawl with her boyfriend Praveen Chandra. Allegedly, the couple fought in a Wynn hotel room which led to the arrest of Celeste and Chandra.
The argument stemmed from Celeste kicking her boyfriend in the face in a limousine and all accounts say he got the worst of the scuffle. Celeste was charged with domestic abuse and still showed up to UFC 146 looking gorgeous. Domestic violence is no joke for both genders and the UFC would rather you do not see their top ring girl in a bad light.
10 The Fight Before The Fight
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier might be the biggest rivalry in the sport because both legitimately hate each other’s guts, but the fans only have seen one match between them. Jones was supposed to have a rematch against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 182 but the fight never happened due to Gustafsson pulling out. The Olympian Cormier then replaced Gustafsson and trash talking began to commence.
While promoting UFC 182 during a media day, Jones and Cormier ended up brawling, which spilled into a sea full of people. Jones would receive a fine of $50,000 from the Nevada Athletic Commission for his actions in the scuffle. Even if the actions were about hyping up the fight, both fighters looked like fools when they started brawling. Jones ended up beating Cormier, but not without controversy as he tested positive for cocaine a month earlier. Jones has been involved in more controversy since and hasn’t fought since 2015.
9 Unsportsmanlike Conduct
The UFC wants sportsmanship just as much as a fitting rivalry where two fighters hate each other. Sportsmanship in MMA shows critics that fighters aren’t barbarians and can control their actions. Sometimes, a fighter that submits another doesn’t let go of the hold. This leads to bad publicity and a stain on the fight. The most famous case in the UFC is Renato Sobral versus David Heath at UFC 74.
Sobral caught Heath in an anaconda choke and when Heath tapped out, Sobral wouldn’t give up the hold. Referee Steve Mazzagatti attempted to stop the fight but Sobral wouldn’t give up the choke until Heath went unconscious. For his actions, Sobral’s contract was terminated with the UFC and he was fined $25,000. Ironically, UFC 74 was titled "Respect." Yikes!
8 A Crazy War Machine
Only the more dedicated fans of the sport knew who War Machine was when his face was plastered all over the internet after it became news that he tried to kill his girlfriend at the time, former adult star Christy Mack. He wasn’t in the UFC, but he did have a contract with the company years before the incident. Even though he wasn’t with the UFC, it’s still a bad image for everyone in the MMA world.
As we’ve said, critics of MMA argue that these athletes are unstable and rewarding them for violence shouldn’t happen. War Machine is a prime example of a psycho who happened to be decent at MMA. The UFC doesn’t want you to know they have a connection with this troubled person.
7 The Cheap Shot
As we earlier mentioned with Sobral, sportsmanship is something the UFC does take seriously, even though they love a lot of trash talking to build up a fight. What Paul Daley did at UFC 113 is one of the craziest things a fighter ever did after a match was called. Daley can trash talk and he was up against another trash talker in Josh Koscheck.
The fight went to a decision, but Koscheck got the better of all three rounds. Daley wasn’t having it and decided to sucker punch Koscheck. Daley came up with the excuse that he didn’t hear the bell, but no one believed him. Dana White gave him a life time banishment, the first in UFC history. Daley eventually apologized and was last seen in Bellator in 2016.
6 Going On A Rampage
Rampage Jackson made a name for himself when he fought in the former Japanese promotion, Pride Fighting Championship, and by the time he made it to the UFC in 2007, he was a legit star. Jackson’s personality and ability to knock people out made him one of the best fighters in the UFC but in 2008, he was involved in a hairy situation. In the same month, he lost the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship to Forrest Griffin and was involved in a wild car chase with police in California.
He allegedly hit several cars and pedestrians before stopping for the police in a parking lot. The image you see shows a policeman with a gun drawn towards Jackson, who is laying on his stomach. Dana White pulled tooth and nail to help out Jackson even if he looked like a crazy person in the public eye. This type of imagery can hurt the UFC, especially with their public relations.
5 UFC 167 Post Press Conference
Georges St-Pierre was arguably the best fighter in the UFC before his retirement in 2013. He’s the most dominant Welterweight Champion ever and has won numerous awards for his performances. His blood, sweat, and tears have paved the way for many athletes. That’s why it was shocking when Dana White blasted GSP after his last match, a successful title defense against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.
White was outraged that GSP would announce his retirement during the post-press conference without consulting him. White would embarrass GSP by asking the audience if they thought Hendricks won the fight. White also told GSP that he 'owes' the fans and Hendricks a rematch. GSP put his life on the line for the UFC for nine years and he decided to leave. It’s only fitting that the UFC may need him for a big money fight in the near future.
4 Classless Jokes
Miguel Torres was a scrappy fighter and pretty successful when he was in UFC’s sister promotion WEC. He would sport an outstanding record of 38-3 before the WEC roster merged with the UFC in 2010. The former WEC Bantamweight Champion went 2-2 before being released by the company. The UFC needs their brand to look squeaky clean and when Torres decided to make a sexual assault joke on Twitter, Dana White fired him.
As you can see, the tweet was pretty offensive, but he adds more to it. "They should never say stop, no, and don’t. What you should hear is no don’t stop," tweeted Torres. He was quickly fired but fans pointed out a hypocrisy in disciplinary action because UFC legend, Forrest Griffin, also made a sexual assault joke on Twitter as well, but nothing happened.
3 The Fall Of Jon Jones
While Conor McGregor has become the face of the UFC, there still is one fighter out there that should be considered the best pound-for-pound athlete in the UFC and his name is Jon Jones. However, Jones is his own worst enemy. The gifted Light Heavyweight contender has won every match except for a disqualification against Matt Hamill years ago. This photo basically sums up the fall of Jon Jones.
He’s been caught using substances banned by the Las Vegas Athletic Commission which has led to a suspension. This photo was taken after he was arrested in New Mexico for multiple vehicle violations. If Jones kept up his monstrous win streak, who knows how much money he could have made for the UFC. Jones moving up to Heavyweight may happen and a fight with Brock Lesnar would break records.
2 McGregor Looking Weak
Conor McGregor kept the UFC afloat in 2016 when he would be involved in one crazy feud with Nate Diaz. Just like Ronda Rousey, McGregor was on an unbelievable path of fame and success demolishing his opponents. UFC 196 had McGregor booked but they needed another fighter on short notice after Rafael dos Anjos got hurt. Diaz took the fight and he proved many critics wrong when he beat McGregor with a rear-naked-choke in the second round.
Let’s just say the UFC wasn’t happy that McGregor lost because that guy can sell tickets. The two faced off again and McGregor won at UFC 202. McGregor then went on to beat Eddie Alvarez for the UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC 205. McGregor is the UFC’s best money maker and they need him to win, and they don’t need people to remember that he has some weakness in his game.
1 Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey can retire today and will still go down as a legend because she’s a pioneer for women's MMA. The way she executed a judo toss into an arm bar was like seeing Michael Jordan dunk from the foul line or watching Tom Brady throw a game-winning touchdown. She transcended the sport and became a household name, even to the casual fans.
The UFC needed Rousey’s success to continue because her PPV sales were as good as the ones posted by Conor McGregor and Brock Lesnar. Everything came crashing down when Rousey ran into a buzz saw named Holly Holm. At UFC 193, Holm would beat Rousey in convincing fashion and Amanda Nunes would do the same at UFC 207. It looks like the Rousey moneymaking machine may be officially over.