Dana White is quite the polarizing character and as Drake would say: “he goes 0 to 100, real quick.” There’s truly no one quite like “the baldfather,” as he has weekly meltdowns, swears at the media, responds to fans on Twitter (even with 3 million followers) and routinely leaves over 100% tips to servers. White lives life in the fast lane and his combative nature is a huge part of why he’s so successful today. It’s refreshing to see a president be blunt rather than give “cookie-cutter” answers.
However, when you’re brash and outspoken like Mr. White, you leave yourself open to scrutiny as people like to “stick it” to you when you’re wrong about something. Another issue with having no speed bumps when a thought travels from the brain to the mouth is that it leads to severe moments of hypocrisy. White has been in the public eye for almost 15 years now and has certainly had moments where he’d probably like a mulligan. Let’s have a look at the top 15 “foot in mouth” moments from Dana White.
14. UFC 149 in Calgary
White has admitted that UFC 149 in Calgary was one of the worst events that the company has ever put on. He maintained that he hadn’t been that disappointed in an event since UFC 33 all the way back in 2001. To his credit, he’s promised that he’d make it up to the city of Calgary with a “killer” event. The problem is that while he always brings up the notion of making it up to the city of Calgary, UFC 149 was three years ago. If you owe someone money, you can’t just keep acknowledging the debt without paying it back. He’s even stated that if MMA gets legalized in New York, the planned Calgary event in 2015 will get nixed.
About New York…
13. MMA in New York
2012 was just not a good year for White’s assertions (it was not a good year in general for the UFC, as the roster was ravaged by injuries). On the topic of MMA being legalized in New York, he stated on FOX Sports Radio: “We’re so close, it’s going to happen. I guarantee you that it’s going to happen this year.” Despite his persistent efforts, the fact of the matter is that we are now in 2015 and MMA is not legalized in the State of New York.
12. Jon Fitch’s Salary
This one is controversial because people are split on their opinions. Two years ago, Jon Fitch was released from the UFC following a loss to Damian Maia. White’s reasoning was that Fitch’s guaranteed $66,000 was too expensive for what he was producing in the octagon. But literally 4 hours after he made that statement, he admitted on Joe Rogan’s podcast that he’s gambled up to 1 million dollars in one night. MMA journalist Mike Chiappetta went right after White on his Twitter: Dana at 5 pm: “Jon Fitch is super f-cking expensive.” Dana at 9 pm: “I’ve gambled away 1 million in a night.”
Chiappetta was implying that it was a bit insensitive to imply that 66k was expensive, when he had the means to go out and gamble wads of cash. The counter-argument is that how White spends his personal money has nothing to do with how he chooses to run his business. Regardless, Chiappetta deserves a lot of credit for voicing his opinion as most MMA journalists are terrified that they will get banned from events.
11. Chael Sonnen’s $100 check
White and majority owner Lorenzo Fertitta have received a lot of scrutiny (from the fighters themselves) about fighter pay. They’ve gone on record vehemently defending their pay structure. In an interview, Fertitta attacked the way boxing compensates fighters on the undercards: “Do you know what fighters make on ESPN fights? There was a guy who walked away in this last fight here in Vegas…he walked away with $275 for a four-round fight.”
White defended Fertitta’s point, claiming that no one has ever been paid that little money on a UFC card, even when the company was millions of dollars in debt…Chael Sonnen offers a story that would argue the contrary, as he claims to have only been paid $100 for his fight against “Babalu” Sobral in 2005.
10. Claiming James Toney vs. Randy Couture Wasn’t a Freak-Show
When Dana White signed on James Toney, he was adamant that it was not going to be a “freak-show” because Toney is a legitimate fighter: “What we won’t do is make a freak-show out of it. I’d be the first to scream if someone else did that, so I’m not going to do it.” White saying that Toney is a legitimate “fighter” is untrue in terms of the UFC, as Toney was a boxer and, as we know, boxing is one of the few facets that’s involved in an MMA fight. The world saw what happened at UFC 1 when a boxer met a mixed martial artist, as Royce Gracie proceeded to throttle poor Art Jimmerson and his sad little boxing gloves. Why would there be a different result 17 years later at UFC 118? If Toney had taken it seriously and fully invested himself to the sport of MMA, one could argue that it would be a more interesting fight. But the fact of the matter is Toney showed up completely out of shape, as his belly had more rolls than a bakery.
White later went on to admit that there were some freak-show aspects to this fight, when Ariel Helwani asked for Toney’s thoughts on that, he responded with: “Man, the only freak-show I got is between my legs.” Ha, well done, James.
9. Gambled $150,000 that Chuck Liddell Would Win PRIDE Middleweight Grand-Prix
Now, let’s keep in mind that White placed this bet in 2003, way before he was the billion dollar baldfather (it’s true, he wasn’t bald!). White and Liddell’s friendship has been a constant through thick and thin and it’s actually kind of endearing. Unfortunately, White’s blind faith in Liddell cost him $150,000 in this particular instance, as Rampage Jackson decimated Liddell until his corner was forced to step in. On the grand scheme of things, the $150,000 doesn’t mean much when you consider how much money Liddell made the UFC in the long run. However, at the time, it had to be a huge shot to White’s ego and his pocket book.
8. Signing Kimbo Slice
Uncle Dana didn’t think much of Kimbo’s skills and didn’t pull any punches about it. In a classic interview where he ranted against Elite XC, he had this to say about Kimbo: “But Kimbo Slice sucks, like I’ve said now for the last few months. This f**king guy can’t fight, and he got knocked out in 13 seconds by a guy who didn’t win The Ultimate Fighter, and who didn’t win fights in the UFC.” My goodness, tell us how you really feel!
White threw out a challenge to Kimbo as he maintained that if he wanted to prove himself as a legitimate fighter, he could enter The Ultimate Fighter (reality show) on season 10 as a Heavyweight. Kimbo accepted the challenge, but didn’t prove anything as Roy Nelson dummied him. The UFC did everything they possibly could to put him back in the competition. Any time there was a potential injury, Kimbo was automatically the first name mentioned as a replacement. At one point, they put him back in, but he opted not to fight because he hurt his knee.
At the Finale, he won a boring decision against a washed up Houston Alexander, who had lost his last three fights in the UFC. Still, this was enough to have him fight right before the co-main event at UFC 113 in Montreal. Seems a little hypocritical to have a guy that “can’t f**king fight” on the main card.
7. Calling out Brendan Schaub on the Reebok Deal
The Reebok sponsorship deal has been a heavily debated topic lately. In a nutshell, fighters cannot wear their personal sponsors logo in UFC settings anymore as Reebok is now the official sponsor of the company. Fighters that are higher up in the rankings obviously get a better cut of this deal.
Dana White defended the Reebok deal on “Off The Record” with Michael Landsberg, claiming it was a great opportunity and that it’s no different than any other sport, in a sense that in football, baseball or hockey (for example), the athlete cannot wear their own personal sponsors logo on the field/ice. This is all true, except the UFC is already heavily scrutinized for underpaying their fighters and now the majority of them will be making even less.
Both points have some merit. Yes, it’s difficult for the mid to lower ranked fighters to lose sponsors when they’re already underpaid. However, to White’s point, he’s trying to legitimize the UFC as all his fighters will be under one brand. UFC fighter Brendan Schaub has been openly critical of the deal, claiming that he’d only see 10 grand per fight with the Reebok deal rather than the 100 grand he normally receives through his sponsors. White basically called Schaub a liar on “Off The Record” as he mockingly named Schaub’s sponsors and maintained there’s no way he was getting that kind of money. This is where White is wrong because he only named the lesser known sponsors (on Schaub’s banner) and chose to omit the lucrative ones, even though they’re clearly visible on his shorts.
6. Post UFC 167 Georges St-Pierre rant
You could feel a collective: “oh no he didn’t ” among GSP faithful as White spewed these words: “There’s no, listen, I’m going to go on a cruise and I’m going to be gone for two years. I’m going to take a hiatus. I’m going to take a leave of absence. Whatever the hell he was saying, that’s not how it works. You owe it to the fans, you owe it to the belt, you owe it to this company and you owe it to Johny Hendricks.”
Alright, let’s break the obscenity of this rant down, piece by piece. Does he owe it to the fans? No, he’s been one of the most accessible and fan-friendly champions there’s ever been in the UFC. Does he owe it to the belt? Nope, he defended it for six years. Does he owe it to Johny Hendricks? Just…no.
The undisputed most ridiculous comment was the assertion that St-Pierre owes the company. GSP was the “pound for pound pay per view king” (White’s words). His fights generated more buys/money than any other fighter. It’s the other way around, the UFC is indebted to him.
The UFC was in full denial mode about there being a steroid issue. Slowly but surely, fighters were coming forward and talking about the PED epidemic that’s been plaguing the sport for years. Georges St-Pierre led the charge, citing PED use among fighters as his main reason for taking a leave of absence. Brian Stann actually retired because of it and Mark Bocek went as far as saying that 90% of fighters are on some sort of PED.
The UFC tried to deflect and deny, saying that it’s the athletic commission’s job to test the fighters and that very few people have actually tested positive. St-Pierre tried to explain that you have to be very disorganized to get caught due to the fact that the tests were not done at random. It’s very easy to beat the test when you know it’s coming.
There is absolutely a steroid problem in the sport. For example, Wanderlei Silva was slated to fight Chael Sonnen last year. Silva (hilariously) ran away from the drug test and was removed from the card. It was then scheduled to be Chael Sonnen vs. Vitor Belfort but then Sonnen just might have been fiddling around in Lance Armstrong’s medicine cabinet as he got caught with EPO and human growth hormone in his system. Meanwhile Vitor Belfort was caught earlier that year with elevated levels of testosterone. The UFC waved the white flag and decided to implement their own random drug testing policy. I guess there was a drug problem after all…
4. Loretta Hunt Rant
The UFC president has openly admitted that this is his one regret. White took exception to a piece written by journalist Loretta Hunt and just “went off.”
While a lot of the points he made were true, he came off like a ranting and raving lunatic. His biggest regret was using the word “faggot” when describing the anonymous journalist that provided a quote. As shown in the video, he’s since apologized for using that word. He explained that the connotation of that word is different than the literal meaning and it kind of slipped out. To be objective, White is not a homophobe, as he’s always openly supported gay marriage and gay fighters (notably Dakota Cochrane).
3. Comparing Hackers of UFC Website to 9/11 Terrorists
As we’ve seen in the examples that have already been mentioned, Dana doesn’t mind getting heated when making his points. However, this one was a bit extreme, even for him…perhaps someone spiked his latte. In 2012, UFC.com momentarily got hacked and when interviewer Mauro Ranallo asked White for his thoughts on this, you could feel the smoke coming from his ears as he darn near lost his mind: “My point is… you know, like I said, you don’t mess with the Government. You start messing with the Government and what these Internet guys done now is in a situation where, um, you know it’s almost like New York (9/11), you know, in New York when the Towers got hit.”
White was trying to imply that these hackers would ultimately feel the wrath of the government. He then went on to say: “This is bigger than the UFC. You go out there and start acting like a terrorist? You’re going to get Osama Bin Laden’d.”
Comparing the UFC web site getting hacked to a national tragedy that killed thousands of people… Pretty sound rationalization!
2. Thoughts on Fabricio Werdum
Way back in 2008, Fabricio Werdum was actually cut by the UFC. His record stood at 2-2 and the promotion wanted to restructure his contract, Werdum refused and the UFC opted to release him.
Fedor Emelianenko is widely regarded as the best Heavyweight of all time, a notion that White openly scoffs at because Fedor never fought in the UFC: “Fedor sucks man. You guys need to get with the facts, deal with it, he sucks, get over the Fedor thing.” One of White’s “go to” arguments once Fedor finally lost a fight, was the fact that he lost to Fabricio Werdum. A fighter that was deemed only average in the UFC and was released. Well now Werdum is your champion…deal with it.
1. Women’s MMA
Four years ago, when asked when we’d see women in the UFC, White bluntly answered: “never.” Fast forward to 2015 and the UFC has two competitive women’s divisions while one of their champions is the biggest star in the company. What changed Dana White’s mind? Ronda Rousey. In his words: “this is the f**king Ronda Rousey show.”
Rousey has taken women’s MMA by storm and has paved the way for other female fighters, even her arch nemesis Miesha Tate has admitted to that. Her fighting speaks for itself, as she’s only been out of the first round once in 11 professional fights. Her last three fights have lasted a combined minute and 36 seconds. But she brings other intangibles to the table. She’s really good looking, which helps immensely because the UFC’s prime demographic is young males. She’s also very talented away from the octagon, as he’s played significant roles in The Expendables 3, Furious 7 and Entourage. She has her detractors too, that simply tune in to see if someone will finally put their fists to her. All these tendencies have created one heck of a megastar and a place for women in the UFC, something that White said would never happen.
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