By Zach Arnold | June 12, 2011
How about we start out with this heartwarming reaction to the quality of judging at UFC 131 last night?
“I think it’s horrendous,” exclaimed Dana White in this post-fight video interview with Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com.
“It’s getting to the point now where I don’t even know what to say any more. You, you… It’s one thing if, you know, if you look at me and everybody’s going, ‘Oh, yeah, his business…’ Fans get pissed off and I get pissed off because these guys are hurting the fighters. It screws your record, it screws up your money, it screws up your legacy, everything, guys getting losses that shouldn’t have losses, you know, Bones Jones shouldn’t have a loss on his record right now, and the list goes on and on and that was a referee, not a, and I can go on for days what’s wrong with the officiating in this thing. The guys tonight and what’s even scarier is that we have
fucking TVs in front of these guys. Maybe you couldn’t see it before, maybe the lights or you had a bad angle, you have a television in front of you now. Anybody who, the guys who did those 30-27s tonight should never score another fight again. I mean, you have to absolutely not know what you are doing to score that fight 30-27.
“There’s nothing that I can do. Listen, I’m out here again, I’m talking to the athletic commission, the commission that oversees me and regulates me… fix it.”
Which brings us to this passage from the interview:
ARIEL HELWANI: “Do the monitors work? Do you think they actually help?”
DANA WHITE: “Apparently not! Apparently they do not work at all, apparently they don’t. I figured if you had a hard time seeing the fight because maybe you got a bad angle, maybe it was something in front of you, but you know how many
fucking bad angles you got to get to score some of those fights 30-27? And you had television monitors.”
ARIEL HELWANI: “In the mid-90s, you remember in boxing there were a bunch of bad decisions and everyone was saying, ‘this is fixed, this is bad.’ Are you ever afraid that we’ll get to the point where fans really start catching on and saying, ‘what’s going on here?’
DANA WHITE: “That’s what I was going to say to you. I mean, back in the day when we watched boxing, you know, you had these fights out there and you’d go, ‘fixed, this was a fix, they needed this guy to win so they did this and that.’ I mean, if people think that this is fixed and I’m not, when you fix fights you don’t run around bitching about it and pay the guys the money, more money than they, you know, Omigawa can say, hey, listen, Omigawa lost. It is what it is. I don’t believe that. I veto, man. I don’t think he lost. We’re going to pay your money and we’re going to treat you like you won.”
So, is the monitor experiment not producing positive results?
As bad of a mood as Dana was in about the quality of judging at UFC 131, he was in a great mood to address a recent interview by our friends at FightHubTV.com where they talked to Gary Shaw, Al Bernstein, Oscar De La Hoya, and Bob Arum about UFC recently purchasing Strikeforce. Suffice to say, Dana was ready to throw verbal bombs back at any remarks over that business deal from the boxing world.
GARY SHAW: “Great for the UFC, Fertittas, brilliant, brilliant move. For the fighters, terrible move because they don’t have another place to really go and bargain. So, you know, if you ask me as a businessman, I think it’s brilliant on the part of the UFC. I’m not even sure that when Strikeforce’s contract is up with Showtime that they just don’t fold it into the UFC at that point, let’s make it for PPV. For the fans, it’s bad. For the fighters, it’s bad. For the UFC, it’s terrific.
“Any time that you force fans to pay PPV for every single card you put on, then you’re screwing the fans. Not every card is a PPV value. Some are just general good TV value and then the special ones are PPV value, so I feel the fans get screwed.
“I think they’ll absorb them right into the UFC as soon as the contract’s up at Showtime. I’ll be surprised if the UFC changes their model and gives away fights for free, I don’t see it.”
AL BERNSTEIN: “Some would say, is it good? I’m not passing judgment one way or the other on UFC. They’ve been able to do it in that sport and have, to their credit, made it very interesting for the fans. The Strikeforce thing was a little different. That was the first time they’d actually have a true contender, somebody that would push them and would be, you know, worth while of thinking, ‘Oh, we have to buy these people, I’ve never bought people out before.’ But, you know, the question I guess and it’s a philosophical question, do you want competition or do you want someone to be able to put all the fighters together? Now, in other sports, clearly if there was no MLB or NFL we might never see the Dallas Cowboys play the Chicago Bears or the Oakland A’s play the San Francisco Giants or whatever, I could go on and on, because they might wouldn’t want to do it for some reason. You obviously want that to happen. But I don’t think boxing’s a situation where you can have a monopoly like that, I just don’t think it would fly.”
OSCAR DE LA HOYA: “Well, look, I mean… MMA is just a whole different, you know, animal compared to boxing. What we can do is just do our own thing, you know, with Golden Boy, is just try to make the best fights possible. We want to work with all the promoters, we want to work with every promoter and we are. We’re working with Gary Shaw, we’re working with Lou DiBella, we’re working with every single promoter out there except Top Rank which doesn’t want to work with us, so it’s very unfortunate but, you know, we’re in this business for the long run. I’m 38 years old of age, Richard my CEO he’s also very young, we’re going to promote the sport for a long time so we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing and eventually boxing will have the best fights possible.”
BOB ARUM: “Well, I don’t know what the laws are, but there seems there’s an anti-trust problem somewhere, but all credit to UFC for buying out Strikeforce, that’s a great way to make your competition disappear.”
What’s intriguing about the comments is that they may be the wrong messengers, but Shaw is spot-on. Al Bernstein is entirely reasonable in his assessment. Oscar wanted no part of any flame war with Dana White. Bob Arum was Bob Arum. So, all things considered, it wasn’t exactly earth-shattering commentary. However, Dana was clearly ready to proverbially go for Shaw’s throat in response.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier that you asked me a question as I am that one. Number one, Gary Shaw’s a moron, OK? First of all, this guy’s going out and copying everything that I say. He’s like, ‘Oh, they put on too many PPVs and they don’t give any free fights.’ What the hell are you talking about, you moron? First of all, Gary Shaw, what did he do, he’s done three fights this year and when I say that, fights that he actually promoted himself that were his actual fights and all three of them were on Showtime. Showtime is not free, okay? We’ve done 11 fights this year and four of them were free on free television, actual free television, free cable, OK, Gary, you idiot? You’re so dumb, I can’t even believe that I’m [responding to] your [response].
“And then the other one, Bob Arum? Let me tell you what about Bob Arum. First of all, Bob Arum is copying, you go to a Top Rank fight now, they’re copying everything we do, right? Now, Bob Arum is also the guy who, you know, he’s out there crying ‘Anti-trust! Anti-trust!’ Bob Arum, go back and look through the records in an interview that he did, he was laughing at the Fertittas for investing in this company, he was laughing at them, basically saying, ‘they’re idiots, they’re losing oodles and oodles of money.’ Now you’re crying anti-trust, Bob? Bob, you weren’t smart enough to do this. You weren’t smart enough to do what we did to buy a company like this and basically change the fight industry forever and now you’re crying anti-trust? You guys sound like a bunch of crybabies.
“And, another one, Al Bernstein. I’ve known Al Bernstein for a long time and he’s towing the company line talking like, ‘I don’t know if this good or whatever.’ OK, Al, I see how it is.
“[Arum is] definitely taking a shot at us and what’s funny is, every time these guys have fights I pay for tickets to go to them. When they do their PPV numbers, I’m like, ‘good for them, I hope they do 2 million buys,’ you know what I mean? But if you look throughout the history of boxing, these guys have been crybabies, you know, they’ve always been crybabies. They’re the biggest bunch of babies you’ve ever met. Bob Arum, the guy who was saying, ‘oh, the Fertittas are idiots, they’re losing ‘oodles of money in this,’ now he’s crying ‘anti-trust’ and he’s copying everything we do? You weren’t smart enough to do it, Bob.”
The most telling and peculiar response, however, was to a question Ariel asked Dana towards the end about ‘the government’ investigating the UFC. If you aren’t a hardcore follower of the sport, you would have no idea what Ariel is alluding to (if you are a casual MMA fan). He’s alluding to the reports by MiddleEasy.com about the FTC investigating Zuffa, LLC for anti-trust matters reportedly regarding Xyience, PRIDE, and other business dealings.
Dana channels his inner Vince McMahon in response to this question.
“I don’t think it’s just boxing people, I think people are out there poking around. Let me tell you what, there’s a lot of people because this thing has been so successful, there’s a lot of people out there who, uh… who come after us and are taking shots at us and… the reality is, we took something that was absolutely dead and turned it around and turned it into this and it was done by investing a ton of money and the Fertittas actually having the balls to do it and to stay behind this thing when it didn’t look like it was going to turn around. And all these people now that are taking shots at us and coming after us and doing what they’re doing are the people who were laughing at us 9, 10 years ago, you know? We’re the best at what we do, we’ve changed the fight business forever, we’ve revolutionized it, and, you know, all these other guys that weren’t smart enough to do it and didn’t see it want to cry about it now.”
Not exactly a flat-out denial. I was waiting for Dana to go into 100% Vince mode circa early 1990s when the Feds went after him over steroids and how “he beat the Federal Government.”
On an extra side note, the legal battle between Zuffa and Ken Pavia progresses.