By Zach Arnold | March 7, 2012
On a late Monday evening, Rampage Jackson decided to cause trouble and go on a rant against UFC on Twitter. In the process, he backed the assertion of his new-found love for testosterone and that he would continue using it.
- Mood swings: Rampage rages against UFC
- Rampage Jackson admits TRT usage, claims his doctor works for UFC
- Five questions the media should ask about UFC testosterone story
- Victor Conte: Ongoing testosterone fiasco will haunt UFC; Dave Meltzer says Bristol Marunde fought on Strikeforce show w/ TUE for testosterone
Hours later, Dana White was interviewed in New York City by Ariel Helwani. Before lashing out at Fighters Only over the Rampage Jackson interview where he supposedly made his testosterone claims, Dana attacked a writer for MMA Junkie. He accused the writer of using ‘off the record’ remarks about a Showtime executive.
- “What happens between a bunch of men behind the scenes, when they’re doing business… needs to be left behind the scenes, sometimes.”
- “No way in hell should [that] have been published.”
The rich irony of those quotes will be savored by the end of this post.
Dana proceeded to apologize to said executive during the interview with Ariel.
“He’s not going to be sending me any [expletive] Christmas cards any time soon.”
After trashing the MMA Junkie writer, Dana was asked about Rampage’s twitter rage.
“I talked to Rampage yesterday for about an hour and a half. Before all the, before all the tweets started and, uh… you know… Rampage just lost and I think Rampage takes his losses hard, you know? We’ll see what happens, you know. I’m always on-again, off-again with him, you know, as it is anyways. Listen, I have no beef with Rampage. I don’t dislike Rampage or anything like that, you know. I just think he takes the losses really hard and he takes criticism real hard, too.”
In a softball-ish way, Dana was then asked about the validity & credibility of Rampage’s remarks to Fighters Only.
“When I talked to Rampage yesterday and Lorenzo had talked to him right after we heard that and he said none of that is true, none of that is true. He didn’t say any of that. So…”
ARIEL HELWANI: “They misquoted him?”
“Who knows, man. Who knows. Actually, where I heard about it first time was at the first press conference in Australia and I kind of got it into it a little bit with the reporter and, to be honest and you know… shed some light on Rampage’s side of it, let me tell you what — this guy was a prick. This guy was a prick. He came up to me, he was trying to put words into my mouth and I said to him, ‘I see what you’re doing here and you’re not going to play that [expletive] with me. As he was talking to me, we were talking about Testosterone Replacement Therapy and all these other things, then he came back and said, ‘well, you just said.’ I said, ‘I didn’t [expletive] said that. That is not what I said. I see what you’re doing. Don’t play this [expletive] game with me in the middle of the interview. So, for us to sit back and say, ‘oh, Rampage probably said all this stuff and the reporter, whatever,’ I deal with this guy that day… this guy’s a prick, you know, this guy was acting like he was doing some investigative work for 60 Minutes in the way that he was interviewing me and he started saying [expletive] back to me that I didn’t just [expletive] say, you know? So… you know, I think you got to look at both sides of this story because I dealt with tons of media and I’m always honest with the way that it goes down and what happens. You’ve dealt with me for yeras and many, many others have and this guy was a [expletive] weasel.”
Let’s address what Dana just claimed here, shall we?
According to Fighters Only when the interview was published on February 29th, the byline read as follows:
“Interviewed by Gary Alexander, additional reporting by John Joe O’Regan”
After Fighters Only published the interview, they then published a response from Dana White to Rampage’s supposed interviews comments. The person who questioned Dana in Sydney at the presser? Dan Herbertson, the rock-solid veteran Japanese MMA writer who was recently let go by MMA Fighting. Dan’s track record as a reporter & writer is excellent. He is tough, but fair. He’s not a sycophant but he is a friendly straight-shooter.
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How solid is Dan’s track record? He is the person who interviewed Miro Mijatovic for Spike TV’s PRIDE yakuza scandal story. He interviewed Miro for over 90 minutes. Zuffa was not happy about the piece Spike aired on the scandal. How do we know this? When we released transcripts of what Miro said during the interview, we noted that Zuffa filed a DMCA claim against Spike’s video to get it taken off of Google.
So, if you haven’t already figured out by now, Dan Herbertson is not exactly embraced at Zuffa HQ’s for one (curious) reason or another. And, on top of that, Dana White muddied the waters here by claiming that Dan was the one who interviewed Rampage when, in fact, it was Gary Alexander at Fighters Only who did the interview.
Conveniently enough, there’s video online of the exchange between Dana White & Dan Herbertson from the Sydney presser. Let’s take a look at what transpired:
- “I know exactly where you’re going to go with this. I can tell the way you’re talking to me, that you’re trying to spin this into like all the fighters are on testosterone, blah blah blah. Most regulated sport on Earth!”
- “If you want to know the answers to these questions, call the Athletic Commissions. Those are the guys that deal with this. The Athletic Commissions deals and regulates what these guys and how they do it and all that [expletive].”
Remember the context here — Dan is asking Dana about Rampage’s comments since Rampage fought at the UFC Japan show and the Fighters Only interview was published on the 29th. Dan had every right to ask Dana about what the interview claimed. Dana claims that if Dan wants answers, he should be asking the athletic commissions.
Well, who was the ‘athletic commission’ overseeing regulation of the UFC Japan show? ZUFFA!
It’s UFC who allowed Rampage to fight at the show while he admittedly says on Twitter that he’s using testosterone! So, why shouldn’t Dan be asking Dana these kinds of questions?
So, that’s the initial extent of Dana’s initial ‘brush back’ to Dan Herbertson. Then, here comes Dana’s defense of Zuffa fighters who use Testosterone Replacement Therapy:
“If you take a guy who’s talented enough to be in the UFC, right? he’s talented enough to be in the UFC yet for some stupid reason this guy’s using or abusing [Performance Enhancing Drugs]. What it does is the long terms effect of this… when guys get off it, they stop producing testosterone. It [expletive] with guys mentally, physically, emotionally, it does so much damage to a professional athlete… there’s no way in hell we want guys coming in doing this stuff. The problem is, it happens. It’s happening now and what we want to try to do is stop this before it gets, you know, to a point where, you know… young guys get damaged and could have, you know, gone on and had great careers in the UFC.”
(Check the audio on the video clip so you can ensure what is written here matches with what was said.)
We’ve gone from ‘the Dana defense’ where he says he has no problem with TRT because it’s legal to a more… sympathetic… plea where he says guys who use drugs and damage their endocrine system shouldn’t be punished for being knuckleheads and instead should be given a chance to fight while using Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
I had a verbal battle a couple of months ago with Derek Suboticki on this very argument. He argued to me that guys who damaged their endocrine system in the past (either through drug usage or extreme weight cutting) should be allowed to fight in MMA using a TUE for testosterone. I, of course, completely disagreed with this premise and believe testosterone usage should be banned, period, from the sport. Plus, how on earth can your standard basic athletic commission figure out the difference between when a fighter who used steroids, say, when they’re 18 versus using them a couple of months ago? The ambiguity is way too easy to create.
Look at what happened with fighter Brandon Saling at last weekend’s Strikeforce event in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio AC didn’t know about his criminal background. And, yet, we’re supposed to trust that commissions who can’t handle things like background checks are able to precisely manage the process of giving out Therapeutic Use Exemptions for testosterone usage like they reportedly did with fighter Bristol Marunde, the younger brother of the late World’s Strongest Man competitor Jesse Marunde?
Let’s go back to Dana’s characterization of Dan Herbertson for a second. It’s totally and utterly disgraceful that more people have not stood up for Dan in the important quarters of MMA media circles. Dan has a lot more testicular fortitude than most MMA writers and he doesn’t need any testosterone boosts to prove his courage in calling it like he sees it.
Here’s what Dan had to say about Dana’s scorched earth attack on him:
Dana White calling me a prick and a weasel for the interview I did with him on TRT. I read the Rampage quotes and asked for his response. He gave it and then what he thinks about so many guys doing TRT. White then said that a lot of people who do steroids earlier in life have lower testosterone later in life. Obviously my follow up question asked if perhaps he was implying anything about the UFC fighters on TRT. He wasn’t pleased with the q. We were talking about UFC fighters with low T, he mentioned steroid’s effects on T, I asked the logical question. It wasn’t meant to bait him but clearly Dana took it that way. Sometimes we have to play Devil’s advocate but I’m not a tabloid journo. I think most people in the industry would attest that it’s not in my character to do things unethically. I actually showed Dana the quotes.
This is what happens when you approach a bully and actually ask legitimate questions. The minute anything substantively is asked about a controversial topic, the bully deflects and goes scorched earth when they know they are boxed into a corner. The problem for Dana is that he & Lorenzo have made so many enemies in the press already that when trouble is brewing, the aggressive PR tactics backfire… like they are now right now.
The big leagues of media, politicians, and lawyers
Yesterday, Dana White and company went to New York City to have themselves a presser to push the upcoming Fox event in May with Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller as the main event. The show, naturally, is happening in New Jersey and not New York. However, NYC’s the media capital and UFC’s got some extra lobbying to do to get MMA legislation passed in the State.
Just one problem: the testosterone issue is flaring up in the media and now the big boys in the press are starting to pay attention. A “low T” party, anyone?
The New York Daily News published one general UFC article that was a mixed bag for Zuffa. However, the real main event for the newspaper was publishing this opinion piece by Victor Conte on UFC’s testosterone issues and why the New York State Athletic Commission should take a hard look at what the current drug testing climate is.
The article by Victor Conte isn’t anything that you haven’t already read on this site. However, for a short opinion piece, it was about as perfect in laying out the Rampage testosterone controversy as one could imagine. Coming from the modern Godfather of doping, it is an extra-hard low blow to Zuffa’s political efforts. A lot of important politicians and leaders in the States will see the piece and start asking some very uncomfortable questions.
The importance of Rampage’s (supposed) comments to Fighters Only cannot be understated. Sheldon Silver and company now have a license to ask for testimony from people like Marc Ratner and maybe even Dr. Jeff Davidson about why so many MMA fighters are using testosterone and who’s writing the prescriptions.
But there’s another, more uncomfortable avenue that could really make things extremely uncomfortable for Zuffa officials — the courtroom. Zuffa filed the lawsuit against the New York District Attorney and Attorney General to try to get MMA legalized through the courts. MMA Payout:
Another interesting argument used by New York to rebut Zuffa’s contention that MMA is safer now than when the MMA Ban was enacted is that Zuffa points out to safety regulations and precautions it has enacted and only vaguely refers to other MMA organizations. As such, New York contends that there is still “‘a reasonable conceivable state of facts’ that might warrant the prohibitions of the 1997 legislation.” Basically, New York argues that while the UFC may have enacted safety changes, it cannot support its argument with facts from other organizations.
So, when it comes to arguing about the sport’s safety in court, guess what might come into play? You guessed it – drug usage amongst MMA fighters. Testosterone usage amongst big-name MMA fighters, too. If you don’t think that Rampage’s alleged assertions about his doctor that ‘works for UFC’ leading him to an age-management doctor to get a testosterone prescription won’t be fair game in court, then you have another thing coming.
The testosterone usage just become one hell of a hot potato for both the New York politicians & lawyers. This is not a battle Zuffa can win on the PR front or in the political arena. And if the dirt starts pouring out during deposition & cross-examination in the pending lawsuit…
Zuffa’s handling of Fighters Only
Look at what Dana said to Ariel about his claim of Rampage told Lorenzo Fertitta about the Fighters Only interview. He claims that Rampage said that none of what was printed in the interview was true. If that’s the case, why hasn’t the following happened:
- Zuffa filing a lawsuit against Fighters Only
- Zuffa releasing a company statement rebutting or denying the claims that Fighters Only said Rampage Jackson told them during their interview
Neither of those things has happened. Now that UFC is claiming that the whole Rampage Jackson interview was some sort of fabrication by Fighters Only, a media outlet that cooperates with UFC for yearly MMA awards, there’s only one thing for Fighters Only to do:
Release the audio or video of the Rampage Jackson interview.
Release the hounds. If you have the goods, and they better damn well have them or else Fighters Only is incredibly stupid for putting themselves in such legal jeopardy, then release the evidence now before Zuffa files a lawsuit and drags you through financial hell. Release the audio/video and destroy all doubts created by UFC.
- Jamie Penick (MMA Torch): Where’s the lawsuit against Fighters Only?
For Dana to put UFC into this corner, he better be very confident that Fighters Only does not have the audio. If they have the audio, his credibility on the testosterone issue will be destroyed, in my opinion.
Put yourself in the shoes of a Zuffa lawyer. A media outlet publishes an interview featuring a high-profile UFC fighter. According to claims from said media outlet, the UFC fighter starts talking about testosterone usage. Then the media outlet says the fighter claimed that his ‘doctor works for the UFC’ and that the doctor allegedly told him not to fight on the UFC Japan show… but then supposedly had a change-of-heart and directed said fighter allegedly to an ‘age-management’ doctor which resulted in a prescription for testosterone.
If you are said lawyer, these are serious allegations being made. The allegations attack the fundamental credibility of the UFC… and since the UFC views itself as ‘the sport,’ are the charges not an attack on the social stigma that the sport is trying to positively build? The average person is asking to themselves how all these macho, muscular men are crying ‘hypogonadism’ and needing to use testosterone in order to be functional human beings. If everything in said interview was fabricated, I would suspect that Zuffa would have quite a case on their hands… and Fighters Only would be cease to exist after being sued into oblivion.
Which takes us back to what Rampage said last Monday night on Twitter and has said or not said publicly since the interview came out. In addition to Zuffa not publicly releasing a statement denouncing the Fighters Only interview with Rampage, Rampage has also done the following:
- He has not publicly denied, to the best of our knowledge, anything he said in that interview.
- He acknowledged that he’s using testosterone and backed up his claim that his knee is doing better since the use of testosterone.
In this game of media chicken between UFC & Fighters Only, Fighters Only holds the Ace. Release the hounds by releasing the audio/video of the Rampage interview with Gary Alexander.
What it all means
Now that Dana White has made the claim that Rampage allegedly told UFC that everything in the Fighters Only interview was ‘false,’ the MMA media that was reticent to comment on this story can now man up and come out from their shadows. However, the climate of fear is still very real and what stays in the MMA media arena often does not make it into the mainstream, big boy arena of sports writing.
This is why Victor Conte’s opinion piece in the New York Daily News is damning. If you don’t think that big boy investigative writers like the TJ Quinns or Mark Fainaru-Wadas of the world aren’t going to pay attention to the ongoing testosterone fiasco in MMA, I suspect you would be wrong on that front. The fact that the New York Daily News printed Victor Conte’s opinion piece should tell what you need to know.
(Victor’s opinion piece, within an hour of being published online by the NYDN, immediately climbed up their ‘most popular’ rankings for hits. People care.)
Now that the national media is starting to pay attention to the testosterone fiasco in MMA, it makes those in the MMA media who refused to talk about this ‘taboo’ subject look foolish & impotent. Cowardly, too, by the way. Furthermore, the same media that didn’t want to touch this story because it wasn’t a ‘real controversy’ looks horribly foolish right now because this is a real, problematic issue in Mixed Martial Arts. You can’t ignore it any more. You can’t run & hide now. The doors have been blown open. Start talking.
As for UFC, the national media focusing on testosterone usage in MMA is a lousy development for Zuffa. Now, more than ever, we’re going to see what the big boys are made of and if they’re going to continue with their dual-pronged defense of testosterone usage by fighters who don’t exactly look like the average human being.
You can bully media weaklings and get away with it, but bullying those in the media who are backed by resources is a whole different ball game — especially when it comes to the topic of Performance Enhancing Drugs. Just ask Victor Conte.