By Zach Arnold | August 8, 2011
This interview is drawing fire in several quarters for a couple of reasons. Before we get to those reasons, I thought Dana’s comments about keeping Yoshihiro Akiyama around (*cough* UFC Japan *cough*) and having him move down to Welterweight was interesting. “I have so much respect for that guy.”
As for Vitor Belfort, Dana clearly finds him to be a guilty pleasure as well. “When Vitor’s on, Vitor’s nasty.”
Speaking of nasty, that’s how Dana White reacted to Dennis Hallman’s trunks on Saturday night. “I’m actually very disappointed in my people that they would let him walk out with those on. C’mon, seriously.” Burt Watson in the doghouse? “It was borderline disgusting. I was grossed out by it.”
Unfortunately, Dana White didn’t leave it at that. He mocked Ariel Helwani and just like Rampage Jackson did in the past, Ariel’s manhood was challenged by Dana. “I could understand why you’d like them. I’m sure you love those shorts.”
Dana’s actions toward Ariel has drawn a lot of fire because of the company’s record in the past in dealing with slurs. It’s not a record that Dana or Rampage can run away from because there’s plenty of video and quotes publicly out there to display a wretched track record. However, I think aiming all the fire at Dana White in this circumstance is wrong for critics to do. I’m not defending Dana White nor am I defending his comments. His negative remarks speak on their own accord.
- The state of MMA journalism in 2011
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- Sports media focus increasing on mess involving UFC, Rampage Jackson, Joe Rogan, Karyn Bryant
The focus here should be on the media and those asking the questions to interview subjects who verbally abuse them and get away with it. I can’t sit here and rant about Karyn Bryant two months ago with Rampage’s ‘motorboating’ incident and then suddenly absolve Ariel from this situation last Saturday night at UFC 133. Ariel is not a clueless fellow at all. He’s just made the decision to allow the remarks by Dana & Rampage to go unanswered in order to continue gaining media access to get paid at MMAFighting.com. If someone in the media doesn’t have enough respect for their own reputation, then who I am to stand up and defend them in a fit of righteousness? Dana White isn’t changing his stripes for anyone. A leopard doesn’t change its spots. So, if the critics want to aim their fire at someone in this situation, aim it at the appropriate target.
Bottom line, Ariel should not be afraid to defend himself at the very least against these kinds of attacks. By not standing up to these kinds of attacks, it sends a message to fighters and management that they have carte blanche to make the remarks to the press that they currently make. It shows a complete lack of respect for the ‘media’ by the UFC, but then again… when has their pushing around of the media hurt their bottom line financially? As long as people keep tolerating ‘business as usual,’ UFC will continue their brutish & disdainful behavior to the press. It’s behavior like this that will contribute to MMA remaining a niche sport and, in many cases, I think UFC is happy being popular enough to make solid cash but still not popular enough to be on the radar of the mainstream media in order to get scrutinized the same way that other professionals sports are microscopically analyzed.
Dana White explains why mentioning Fedor’s name gets him so worked up
ARIEL HELWANI: “On a personal note, how much fun did you have this week gloating with the fans online about Fedor? Just by looking at your Twitter, you’re having the time of your life here.”
DANA WHITE: “Yeah, I know. And I, uh, joke around. I really love to stick it to the Fedor fans because they’re such lunatics, man. They go crazy and they flip out and, you know, it’s been this battle that I’ve had with the Fedor fans and the Crazy Russians for years. I have no, I don’t dislike Fedor. I don’t hate the guy. The thing that just, and to be totally honest with you, the thing that really… upset me and drove me crazy about the Fedor thing is when the media and this group of fans were out there saying, you know, that this guy is the pound-for-pound best in the world, he’s the greatest, and I’m not busting your balls or anything, I’m just being honest, when there’s so many guys who really did deserve that title and those accolades.
“You know, back in 2005, was Fedor the best? I don’t know, we’ll never know the answer, and here’s the Honest to God’s truth. Fedor and the Crazy Russian know this, they know it. They can’t deny it, they can’t lie about it, they can’t say anything and if you do, you know the real
fucking story and what the truth is. We went out and we made them a crazy offer to come into the UFC and to prove that he was the best in the world and they turned it down. Nobody in their right fucking mind would have turned that deal down but they did because they did not want to fight here and if they really did and I’m talking to you buys, the Crazy Russians if you really did turn that deal down because it was all about the co-promotion, then you destroyed, you know, a guy who could have come in and proven that he was possibly the best.
“It’s just… you can sit around and you can talk about all this stuff, he was given the opportunity to do it and he didn’t take it. They know it. You know what I’m talking about. We sat in a room and we were willing to do anything to make that deal happen. One thing you got to understand about us and you can think I’m lying and you can think whatever, talking about the fans, I don’t give a
fuck what they think, I don’t care. I’m telling you the truth, when you guys say that you want to see a fight, I try to make that fight happen. That’s what I believe my job is and if you don’t believe it, then I don’t give a shit. It’s the truth. The Russians know it’s true and, whatever.”
ARIEL HELWANI: “And just putting all the debate aside, that’s why you are all fired up about, right? Because this is something you wanted to see happen and it bothers you.”
DANA WHITE: “I flew to some
fucking island out in the middle of nowhere, okay? Did everything that they asked to do, did everything that they wanted us to do to go make this fight happen… and… we went there for nothing because those guys literally went there to not make a deal. So, it is what it is, it’s not my fault, you know? I’m not going to sit around and cry about it. I tried to do the fight that the fans wanted to see, I tried to make it happen and they didn’t want to do it.
“He would have come into the UFC and he would have fought Brock Lesnar, that’s what he would have done and we would have saw who won or lost. If Brock lost and Fedor won, I don’t make those decisions, the fighters do. But I went out there and gave him an insane offer. Insane. And I’m so glad he didn’t take it! Now that I’ve seen what’s happened and how this thing has played out, I’m thrilled that he did not take that offer. But, I, uh…”
ARIEL HELWANI: “For the record, can you tell us what it is?”
DANA WHITE: “For the record? Vadummy, Vadummy knows… the deal that was offered to him, you know, and his
fucking guy who was some political guy laughed at the deal. I bet you’re not laughing now, are you guys? It is what it is. I told you that day in the room, I told them. I said, guess what? He’s one punch away from being worth zero. Come in and take this opportunity, this is what the fans want to see, do it. And you know you didn’t fucking do it and you know it is what it is. So, people can get pissed at me and say whatever, you guys don’t know half the shit that goes on behind the scenes. I know all of it.”
ARIEL HELWANI: “Can you tell us what he turned down?”
DANA WHITE: “He turned down a ridiculous. insane offer. Turned it down. And they
fucked (up), you know it, you know you did and I bet you wish you could go back in a time machine and sit down in that room and re-do that deal, I bet you wish you could. But you can’t, so it’s over.”