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« | Home | »

Have the balls to name names, Dana White.

By Zach Arnold | June 1, 2010

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So, the UFC President says that the rankings lists online that you see from various web sites are influenced by payoffs. And he made this accusation while appearing on Bill Simmons’ ESPN podcast:

“Most of these goofy MMA sites, what you have to understand is, these guys are in it for the money,” said White. “They get paid from all the smaller promotions. They get paid a lot of money from the smaller promotions. So they feel like they have to put some of their guys. That’s the way it works. It’s sick and drives me crazy.”

Josh Gross counters back:

Hey @DanaWhite, which MMA media are taking payoffs for rankings? I’d really love to know. Sincerely. They should be shunned. Proof, please.

No response, yet.

Here’s the deal — I get it. It’s a media tweak, Rush Limbaugh-style, from the most powerful man in MMA. He gets his jollies by doing this all the time. However, the accusation made is a very loaded one and is as annoying as listening to a media personality interviewing a subject with the dreaded “well some people say [insert loaded allegation here]…” without actually naming anyone specificly.

So, Mr. White, name some names. Don’t waste my time if you don’t have the goods. And if the rankings online are as meaningless as you think they are, why are you wasting any time caring about them? Stop being a mark for rankings if you think they’re corrupt.

Here’s a constructive idea for you — if you think all these ‘mark MMA web sites’ are corrupt and are producing corrupt rankings lists, why doesn’t UFC produce their own rankings lists on their web site?

(One answer to that question is because it would give fighters an idea of how the promotion views their slotting in the company, thus providing some leverage at the bargaining table. Remember, I recently transcribed an interview with Eddie Alvarez where he said that rankings lists only primarily matter in the sense that it gives his manager an idea of what to ask for money-wise. Seriously.)

For the record (and to my knowledge), no one associated with the Independent World MMA Rankings has taken a payoff. I have never taken a payoff from a promoter or a fighter in my entire career, which has spanned a very long time.

The new Independent World MMA Rankings list comes out on Friday.

Hit full-page mode for the best commentary yet on this topic.

From Jordan Breen’s show yesterday, a caller asked him why the media accepts Dana White’s statements at face value and how dangerous Mr. White is because he’s able to package a kernel of truth into a hyperbolic balloon of rhetoric and not get challenged on it.

CALLER: “I don’t know, I just think you know like I said before like I think it’s a real dangerous precedent that you know the general media’s setting here with having Dana White, you know, come and talk on their shows about anything MMA-related.”

JORDAN BREEN: “I think you just hit on the big one that I kind of thought that you were going to mention or I thought that was going to come up in conversation and this goes deeper than just him trying to make witty sayings. In general, it’s always a deficiency when someone is kind of smart enough to tease out a really important fact but then so hyperbolic that they undermine themselves and make themselves look foolish and that’s what Dana White often does. Because to listen, for instance, never mind you know him trying to sort of position the idea that Sherdog gets paid for the rankings. I would love, by the way, if someone drove a Brinks truck up to my garbage crib and give me some money because we wanted to rank Jake Shields or something. Never mind the fact that, I love that he’s like ‘Oh, you know, these sites, they’re getting paid to rank these guys’ and he’s talking about our pound-for-pound list… 8 of them are like Zuffa guys and one of them who isn’t he’s trying to sign. So, what, like you don’t think Jake Shields is any good? Why do you want him then? Like, what’s your beef? The two guys that aren’t Zuffa employees on our pound-for-pound list are Fedor Emelianenko and Jake Shields and he’s made no bones about the fact that he wants both of them. So, what, like, he wants them but they’re not really that good and we need to be paid to recognize their greatness?

“What I was going to say is… The idea of Fedor Emelianenko,, for instance, not having fought the greatest competition consistently in say the last five years, this is true and this is an important fact and this is something that is worth saying. Yet, the way in which he says it, ‘Fedor hasn’t fought anyone since 1999!’, like it makes him sound absolutely insane. And I think that’s the biggest thing that Dana White does wrong. He does himself a disservice by really, really catering, like I always say one of the worst things about the new media is that people become caricatures of themselves. Like they display their natural personality and the way that people react to it makes people go, ‘Oh, they like this about me or this is how I’m supposed to be’ and they magnify already the most amplified parts of their personality so they become these grotesque, distorted versions of themselves and Dana White’s no different than anyone else in that respect. So he gets more and more hyperbolic as time goes on and it’s unfortunate because a lot of the stuff he’s saying is true. It is true the kind of the things he says about Fedor Emelianenko but the way in which he packages them, the over-the-top way in which he portrays them makes him sound absolutely insane.”

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 17 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

17 Responses to “Have the balls to name names, Dana White.”

  1. EJ says:

    I think Dana is actually being polite to these people by claiming they are being paid off as an excuse to justify their crappy rankings.

  2. klown says:

    Zach, to your knowledge, and from your personal experience, do you know of any attempt by any promotion to pay off a journalist or otherwise unduly attempt to influence a writer with regard to rankings?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      On rankings — no.

      The art of buying off writers for general press, though, sure that’s happened forever and a day in Japan. Then again, the yakuza factor is huge. But it’s not been uncommon in the past for fight promoters in Japan to pay media types to cover their event or, if they go on foreign trips, pay writers to go on vacation and cover them while on the foreign trip. Think of it as the US media corps with the White House on Air Force One in reverse. The media usually pays for access per seat on the plane.

      • Fluyid says:

        “But it’s not been uncommon in the past for fight promoters in Japan to pay media types to cover their event or, if they go on foreign trips, pay writers to go on vacation and cover them while on the foreign trip.”

        This is an interesting point. There have been quite a few U.S. promotions that have flown in media types. Ask Mr. Eyada how many times he has been flown in and put up in a hotel in exchange for event coverage.

        • Jonathan Snowden says:

          If Mr. Eyada is Dave Meltzer that answer is “zero.” If it’s Eddie Goldman, I have no idea.

  3. Steve says:

    Cash for coverage absolutely happens. Scott Ferrall was paid a flat fee by Zuffa to cover the UFC and quit covering the UFC when Zuffa quit paying. Dana admitted as much on one of his video blogs.

    • Mark says:

      But even that was at the tailend of the landscape of old. After the Ortiz-Liddell show did a million pay per views MMA was at the point where they had to chase reporters off with a stick. And I find it very hard to believe that Ferrall has never mentioned the UFC since 2007. For the audience he plays to that is impossible.

  4. Mark says:

    Back in the day, when MMA coverage was limited to eYada show hosts, a handful of websites and a few martial arts mags, yes, MMA companies including UFC paid for writers to come to the show because they were desperate for people to acknowledge their sport even existed. And certainly it wasn’t worth it to pay for travel expenses out of their own pockets nor were there any financial backers offering to pay for MMA coverage willing to pay for plane tickets and hotels for several days.

    But do you know how much money would have to be paid out if even a small percentage of the people who cover non-UFC MMA were being paid? We’re not talking about 3 internet audio show hosts, 3 websites and a Black Belt Magazine writer anymore. Nobody could afford that. And it isn’t even necessary because there’s money to be made in MMA now. Lots of websites make income to pay a staff these days, and lots of sports websites and newspapers have writers on staff to cover events and pay their expenses.

    The real reason the non-UFC shows get better coverage is because they get better access. Dana has deemed them all unworthy of his press passes, yet won’t stop complaining about them. Make up your freakin’ mind already.

  5. Jason Harris says:

    putting aside the fact that I haven’t actually heard the tone of the comment and it was likely not said in full seriousness…

    Some MMA websites seem to think bashing on UFC/Dana White is their job. This website is pretty fair, but BloodyElbow has writers who write 2-3 articles a week on how UFC is faltering, Dana White is a lying asshole, etc. etc. etc. I doubt they’re being paid to do it, but after a while it starts to sound less far fetched.

    • The Gaijin says:

      People that read Bloody Elbow and think they’re “anti-UFC” are borderline retarded.

      Outside of UFC.com, they probably provide more coverage for the UFC and it’s events than any mma website on the planet. Just because they take a contrarian point of view or actually try to write some pieces that dare to go below the surface on certain topics does not make them anti-UFC or UFC bashers. Frankly I think they write a number of articles/pieces with the intent of invoking discussion or requiring polarizing viewpoints – likely with the intention to increase traffic and comments.

  6. [...] dug the comment up and posted it on Cagewriter, everyone started gangbanging it. Josh Gross and Zach Arnold demanded names. Mr Oldschool Jim Genia reminds everyone that he and others used to be paid by the [...]

  7. edub says:

    It seems to me he is talking about Sherdog in connection with Strikeforce.

    I’m not saying it’s true either I have absolutely no proof. This just seems to fit, and sherdog has seemed to go nuts for certain SF events in the past. WHile also have certain fighters from SF skyrocket up rankings.

    Then again they have for UFC shows also, so who knows…

  8. IamANT says:

    Here’s Meltzer’s response when I brought it up on the F4W boards:

    “Ratings are a sore point with everyone because they are an anachronism from another era of boxing.

    Rating MMA fighters is ridiculous (even though I have to do it) because it’s a game of inches, fighters in different groups fight with different rules and top guys don’t fight each other. How am I supposed to compare Gilbert Melendez and Kenny Florian? It’s absolutely impossible, and to even do so is both stupid and irrelevant. Each company and culture has different mentalities. It’s a professional sport where entertaining the audience is more important in the big picture to almost everyone except the fighters than pure wins and losses. I’ve seen fighters often win dull fights and promoters who have them on guaranteed number of fighters per year deals, don’t book them and starve them out. When a show is over, people never talk about how ratings get changed based on who won and lost, they only talk about if they were entertained or not by the show.

    I think Dana was referring to promotions that advertise on web sites and the sites then favor those promotions or feel the need to get people from those promotions in the ratings. I don’t think he meant, nor did he say, that people are directly paid off by promotions to get their fighters rated, because that doesn’t exist as far as I know. He’s made the same speech to me.

    I don’t think it’s an issue. The issue certainly was, but has become less of late, the idea that somebody like Matt Lindland would be ranked No. 1 at middleweight or Shinya Aoki at lightweight.

    Every promoter claims ratings are biased again their promotion.

    Essentially White’s words were twisted and even what he meant is probably a stretch in most cases. It’s a non-issue to begin with, and now people are jumping on the twisted version of the words knowing that there’s no evidence of a promotion paying off people who vote in polls.”

    http://theboard.f4wonline.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=101239

    • The most interesting thing said isn’t about the possibility or non-possibility of payola from Meltzer. Its his opinion on rankings and how those who read him react. Its as much inadvertent burning criticism as it is objective analysis.

  9. Mark says:

    People only notice the criticism. If you wrote 99 articles praising a promotion and 1 saying they did something wrong, most of their fans would only notice the negative article.

    Take the coverage for the last UFC for instance. Everybody praised the build up job for the fight, praised most of the show, but then said the main event wasn’t entertaining (which everybody but the biggest Rashad fanboy agrees it wasn’t) and it turns into “IT WAS BETTER THAN OVEREEM AND ROGERS! YOU’RE ANTI-UFC!”

  10. Ivan Trembow says:

    Klown asked, “To your knowledge, and from your personal experience, do you know of any attempt by any promotion to pay off a journalist or otherwise unduly attempt to influence a writer with regard to rankings?”

    To pay off a journalist, no. But to “unduly attempt to influence a writer with regard to rankings”? This happens regularly, and right out in the open, too. When Dana White says things at UFC press conferences such as (paraphrasing), “Any writer who thinks that Fedor is one of the best fighters in the world is insane,” or “Any writer who votes for Fedor as one of the best fighters in the world is insane,” or “You’d have to see Fedor fight in the UFC to find out if he’s really that good of a fighter,” or “Any writer who thinks that Fedor is one of the best heavyweights in the world is insane” … anytime those statements are made publicly in that manner, that’s an attempt to get the media to go along with what he’s saying, or to agree with what he’s saying, or to be at least partially convinced of what he’s saying, or at the very least, to quote what he’s saying and present the quote in the context of a legitimate argument instead of presenting the quote as if it’s someone making a ridiculous statement.

    If anyone thinks that Dana White doesn’t have the time or desire to twist the MMA media to his liking, or to twist the public’s perception of the MMA media to his liking, go back and re-watch his rant towards Loretta Hunt. As much as that was like a kindergarten student having a temper tantrum, it was also an attempt to bully and humiliate an MMA writer that he doesn’t like. Or check out his response (“Go eat a d–k”) to Josh Gross’ recent request for a comment on a story. Or go watch the video blog he posted of himself on the phone with a member of ESPN management as he tried to get Jake Rossen fired from his job (a video in which he seemingly failed to grasp the concept of what an “editorial columnist” is).

  11. J says:

    Uhm…. Where are the trollers? Where are the attacks on GSP? Where are the complaints about Lay and Pray and how wrestlers are ruining MMA? Why isn’t anyone on this wesbite attacking each other personally? How is it possible that that in the comments section of an article in a MMA website can have only reasonably well thought out and non acrimonious comments with logical flows?

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