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Dana White’s admission that will likely not get much attention but really should

By Zach Arnold | October 22, 2008

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Three months ago, I wrote a post about how The Big Lead claimed that Spike TV paid their way to go to Las Vegas to cover one of the UFC events. The post didn’t receive much attention at all, and nobody really blinked an eye about it.

Now, The Big Lead is considered one of the larger ‘sports blogs’ that’s not necessarily MMA Media-related.

In his latest YouTube vlog, Dana White went on a rant about Scott Ferrall. Ferrall is a sports radio host on Sirius Satellite Radio and has bounced from a ton of radio stations in the States. Calmlessly and seemlessly, White talks about how UFC paid Scott Ferrall to come to their shows and cover the events. He further claimed that Ferrall was holding him up for more money to cover the events and that UFC balked at doing so.

I find it fascinating that UFC has no problems publicly admitting that they buy and pay off the media. And, of course, you won’t find too many MMA Media writers talking about this because, hey, the UFC is the only game in town. Get on that gravy train when you can. What was it that I just wrote about fight writers being bought and paid for? Sounds to me like Japanese fight writers may not have as much to worry about as they first thought.

Between the way certain members of the MMA media (elaborated further upon here) covered the PRIDE yakuza scandal and the Elite XC stand-up scandal, I’ve already had a cynical opinion of certain media outlets covering the fight game. I just find it intriguing that when you point out that UFC is admitting they buy and pay off members of media and that there are media outlets like MMA Rated where an agent in the business is buying off MMA writers, nobody seemingly cares or blinks an eye. Who will watch the watchmen?

Addendum: Promoters are promoters. Buying off members of the media isn’t a new practice, just a smart and sleazy one. The bigger issue should be the lack of disclosure from members of the MMA media as far as who is or isn’t paying them off. In other words, a disclosure form on each of these sites about individual writers would be a nice start in addressing the issue head-on. For the record, I have never been paid any money whatsoever from a promoter to cover a story.

Speaking of politics, UFC reportedly is having more trouble with yet another sponsor of fighters.

Update: Jim Genia adds his two cents to the discussion. Allegedly, Dave Meltzer has responded to the Total MMA post on the MMA Media.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 27 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

27 Responses to “Dana White’s admission that will likely not get much attention but really should”

  1. zack says:

    Zach…if you were calling out Meltzer a couple days ago for being vague in his writing, why not name names?

    Ed. — I called out plenty of names during the PRIDE scandal of outlets that didn’t want to touch or cover the story (Sherdog got my wrath then, despite the fact that I’m friendly with Jordan Green). Sherdog has gotten better with the addition of Jordan, Tim Leidecker, and other writers who are respectable.

    Regarding the EXC scandal… one site comes to mind, one that published an article quoting Jeremy Lappen as saying that things were exciting… a few days before the company filed for bankruptcy. Then, of course, we know that Pro Elite did hire Sam Caplan, but at least Sam disclosed it and wasn’t out to lunch during the stand-up scandal.

    I don’t see how my comments, given my history, really are all that cryptic. Meltzer made an allegation that UFC used a similar bonus structure as Elite XC did in their fight contracts. First off, he made that allegation to his customers in a paid newsletter. Second, if you are going to fire that kind of bullet into a story, then tell all or don’t bring it up in the first place. He trapped himself on it.

  2. banter says:

    I guess I would have a problem with it if they were paying for positive coverage instead of just coverage.

  3. Lyman says:

    I guess I would have a problem with it if they were paying for positive coverage instead of just coverage.

    Try being a) a writer and b) a writer critical of Dana and/or the UFC. Then try getting media access to their events. While there might not be a quid pro quo with Dana saying “give us positive coverage and we’ll keep letting you sit cageside for free that’s definitely the dynamic that’s at work.

    On the topic of Meltzer, I heard a funny comment by a sports writer (in the “legit” print media btw) about him–they said that Affliction could bring Bruce Lee back from the dead and pit him against Fedor in the main event of the best MMA show ever. They could bring Kurt Cobain back from the dead and have Nirvana as a musical guest. Tom Atencio could come out at intermission and inform the crowd that he’s discovered the cure for cancer in his spare time.

    And Dave Meltzer would report “Affliction show disappoints, future in doubt”

  4. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    This is pretty common stuff in most of the “enthusiast” media. One area where it has been pretty controversial in the last couple years has been console and PC gaming.

    You have this scenario where this segment of the media is in many respects fully dependent on the cooperation of the people and companies to do the work that they want to do: previews, interviews, reviews. Without early access, print media in particular can’t do their job in the game space. Then you have the further wrinkle that a lot of the enthusiast media outlets have advertising that is purchased by the very companies whose products they are covering, so you end up in a place where the companies can influence your ability to do your job by withholding access, and they can also destroy you by withholding advertising.

    This has been the case since the enthusiast media popped up, but it’s really only getting noticed now, when you see one outlet papered with advertising for a specific title, and that outlet has an exclusive first review, and their review is outlandishly favorable, then the later reviews come in and they’re not so hot. Then you have stories about lavish press junkets etc.

    The response of the more traditional paper based media has been to outsource these junket jobs to freelancers to isolate themselves editorially, which maybe helps organizationally but an outsider might not see it that way (seems like an end run when you have the same “freelancers” doing work in every issue).

    Disclosure helps a lot, but these lines of influence aren’t going away until there is a new model in place. The larger blog sites that are able to continue because they run ads for the promotions and sponsors of the promotions aren’t in a good place financially, they’re giving the promotions a lot of leverage.

  5. Smithson says:

    Of course, Lyman, right after the first Affliction show, Meltzer, who was there, wrote that Affliction could be the first real threat to the UFC here in the States, but hey, don’t let reality get in the way of your perceptions.

  6. klown says:

    EXC was busted because the promotion had weak leadership, bad luck, and a lack of discipline and organization. Basically, a dumb fighter spilled the beans – bragged about the beans – to some bloggers. And this coincided with the highest profile MMA fight ever broadcast on TV. Sad.

    The UFC is a tighter organization, better disciplined, and far more powerful relative to its employees, compared to EXC which is weak enough to be scoffed at by its own champions. It is very difficult to take on the UFC, as a fighter, or as a journalist for that matter. Unlike ProElite, the UFC can actually punish its opponents, real or perceived.

    We know the UFC only reveals a portion of its fight “salaries”. Some bonuses are released, some aren’t. Some fighters get checks after exciting victories and others get them in the ambulance after having been knocked out. And we all know about the “gifts” given to favored performers, like cars.

    The UFC is in a place to offer incentives, financial and otherwise, to reward behavior it approves of. In other words, the ability to influence fights objectively exists.

    Additionally, the UFC’s intention to influence fights is public and explicit. We know fighters are cut for being “boring” even if they consistently win fights. We know certain fighting styles are more desired than others. In pre-fight promos, fighters openly strive to give the fans “exciting” fights to please the UFC.

    So the UFC has both the intention and the capability to influence fights.

    There is a wealth of information known by fighters and journalists that is not revealed to the public in order to preserve relationships with the UFC. Very few people are powerful enough to speak publicly against the UFC – the Shamrocks, Coutures and Ortizes of the world. Even they hedge their bets by self-censoring in case the bridge can be unburnt.

    Finally, it’s not necessarily bad for promotions to influence fights. Maybe fights would suck without that element. We just shouldn’t kid ourselves about it.

  7. siouxnyc says:

    Promoters giving some form of consideration to the press is a practice that’s been prevalent since the beginning. I’ve personally had hotel rooms comped more than a few times (for John Lewis’ WFA, I was shacked up in a Las Vegas hotel for nearly a week). And when Zuffa first took over the UFC, they used to have some pretty decent press dinners the night before the event. It’s just industry standard.

  8. Fred says:

    This has been rumored for a long time, and I don’t mind at all if certain media members are paid hacks. Most MMA fans (hopefully) are intelligent enough to take what a journalist says with a grain of salt. This kind of “bribery” is nothing like paying off fighters to fight a certain way.

    As long as promoters confine their efforts to matchmaking and image maintenance, and they don’t try to fix fights, they can pay off whomever they want.

  9. Asa says:

    On the topic of Meltzer, I heard a funny comment by a sports writer (in the “legit” print media btw) about him–they said that Affliction could bring Bruce Lee back from the dead and pit him against Fedor in the main event of the best MMA show ever. They could bring Kurt Cobain back from the dead and have Nirvana as a musical guest. Tom Atencio could come out at intermission and inform the crowd that he’s discovered the cure for cancer in his spare time.

    And Dave Meltzer would report “Affliction show disappoints, future in doubt”

    Is your “Legit” Friend Kevin Iole by any chance?

  10. Chris says:

    The problem with promoters “paying for media coverage”, is that it can lead to unspoken or silent agreements between the promoter and certain members of the media.

    The UFC may have never told Scott Ferrall to only report about how great the UFC is. But if they are paying you to cover their events, why would you ever be motivated to report anything that was negative. I can’t believe that the UFC would have ever paid Ferrell to cover their events, if they thought he would ever report anything negative about the organization.

  11. Asa says:

    Additionally, it sounds like White was paying for viral marketing via a sponsor with a radio show. Scott isn’t really a journalist by any stretch. I’m curious why this is an “sleazy” issue for you. To have a guy who does casual coverage of a macro domain cover your niche domain for publicity sounds like spreading the word. Did he ask a journalist to cover his company and not do so to the ethical standards of their craft? Or did they have an MTV reject talk about them on the radio?

    If you or anyone reading this like him, I apologize for the seeming insults. I simply needed to clarify the differences in job ethics. His role does not have any other than to entertain his audience.

    Certain media outlets exist to promote entities or products that they enjoy or profit from to their audiences.

    Ferral’s a talking head getting paid to talk by an employer.

  12. Asa says:

    Hmmm, Chris’ comment makes me wonder: Are you guys comparing the “Media” to journalism? They’re two different things. The media exists to provide entertainment for profit through various “media” like tv, video games, internet, radio, film, and print publications. Are we holding the “Media” to some sort of journalistic integrity?

  13. D.Capitated says:

    Asa makes an interesting point, though a bothersome one at the same time. Perhaps it is absurd to demand journalistic integrity from the MMA Media. Problem: Are there any actual MMA journalists? If we take it that Meltzer and the like aren’t, that’s sorta problematic.

  14. zack says:

    Good response Zach, and this was a good write up. I wasn’t trying to put you on blast or anything.

  15. Chuck says:

    Jeremy bringing up videogame reviewers brings up many interesting points. I many a few months ago when fired long-time reviewer (he’s been there since 1996, I have been going to the site since 1998) Jeff Gerstmann for reasons that weren’t oficially announced by Gamespot. But it was VERY obvious to all that the reason he was fired was because he gave “Kane And Lynch” a fairly low score (out of a ten, he gave both the Playstation 3 and XBOX360 versions a six each. Which is merely okay, but not very good) and the company that published Kane and Lynch (Eidos. Same company known for the Tomb Raider games) obviously gave a shitload of advertising money to Gamespot to advertise Kane and Lynch (there were advertisements fucking EVERYWHERE for that game, especially Gamepsot at the time). After Gerstmann was fired, about ten other Gamespot employees left Gamespot because of what happened.

    Man, why most journalist and media types can;t be like Dan “Shoe” Hsu, former editor-in-chief of Electronig Gaming Monthly (EGM). Go find his articles of journalistic integrity especially when it comes to gaming. He came THIS CLOSE to libel for what he wrote. Too bad he left EGM earlier this year (but EGM still doesn’t give in to gaming companies trying to bully them into giving their games better scores, which is good.).

    Which is why when you read reviews for videogames, you should read MULTIPLE reviews, not just one or two sources. Or just buy games on your own gut feeling and see if you like them or not (but I am sure most people here don’t have the money to go willy-nilly to go out and buy every sixty dollar videogame out there. So reviews it shall be!!).

  16. zack says:

    Cool perspective on the video game stuff. By the way, I’ll smash anyone at Ice Hockey on the NES.

  17. 45 Huddle says:

    Why did ESPN cover the UFC so much right before Liddell/Ortiz 2? Was it because the sport was more popular? Not really. It was because they wanted to get them on their channel.

    Sadly, news isn’t very credible these days. This is just another example of it.

  18. D.Capitated says:

    The UFC didn’t start covering MMA until after Liddell/Ortiz II in any serious capacity. The first time highlights made TV was for UFC 69. The ESPN hype job/dry run for UFC on their network was UFC 71’s leadup.

  19. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    ESPN has always had a reputation for keeping their news entity well separated from everything else that happens on the networks.

    I don’t think that Sportscenter was doing a Zuffa lube job to try to lure UFC into a broadcast deal.

    ESPN can’t even put together a single editorial message on something like soccer (or MMA), most of the time. They pay people, for the most part, to speak their minds, not to say something specific.

  20. […] come to their shows and cover their events for his show. Zach Arnold thinks that this admission is bigger than some might think. However Bloody Elbow has found the audio and Ferrall’s bad-mouthing of the UFC is actually […]

  21. chris pastor says:


    FERRALL IS ON HOWARD STERN CHANNELS ON SIRIUS and has repeatedly said that SIRIUS made all the money and he’s never been paid one cent by DANA WHITE or UFC-EVER !


    The reason Dana flipped out is because Ferrall had the AFFLICTION guys on his show and THEY BASHED DANA

    DANA LIES and viciously attacks anyone that is in his path !

    Ferrall has only promoted him and every fighter in the UFC

  22. Haulport says:

    And people get on my case when I say Zuffa pays posters on MMA forums and bloggers…….it is a COMMON occurrence…

  23. Gun4Hire says:

    Dana is a LYING MOTHERFUCKER. Ferrall was NEVER paid a DIME by the UFC. Scott has been a friend of mine for a long time. I have hung out with him and the Sirius crew at many UFC fights in Vegas and Anaheim. He never asked for any money and all the UFC gave him EVER was 2 seats to the fights, and paid his airfare and hotel….NOTHING more.

    Dana….you are on top of the world right now but the people that made this possible for you, the Fertita brothers, are in DEEP financial shit with their Station Casinos in Vegas…they are damn near bankrupt.

    I love MMA and the UFC, despite Dana White. The UFC is hot right now, but with a series of VERY marginal fights lately (did anyone really care about Bisping /Leben ??? Really ? as a MAIN event ? Not exactly Liddell/Ortiz).

    And, Dana’s biggest box office draws (Ortiz/Liddell and Couture) are DONE with the UFC. Ortiz is with Affliction because Dana continually fucked with him. Liddell is now a “has been” and has lost 3 of his last 4 fights (Jackson, Jardine and Evans by BRUTAL knockout in the 1st round) . Couture is ONLY going to fill out his contract with the UFC in November and then HE is history too, probaly also going to fight for the “T-Shirt Guys”. Now that Trump is on board with Affliction, as is Golden Boy/De La Hoya, and the fact the Afffliction has Fedor, they WILL have Couture, along with guys like Ortiz and Arlovsky already, and all of this after ONE major fight event, the UFC SHOULD be very nervous.

    All the UFC has left in terms of really big names are Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn…alll the best in their weightclasses by far. Maybe Forrest Griffin and Rampage as well. But Dana will do his typical thing and somehow ruin those relationships too.

    As they say Dana…pride comes before the fall. Enjoy it while it lasts, but quit being a fucking LIAR.

  24. Rollo the Cat says:

    Maybe Dana could hold a press conference and produce the cashed checks he made out to Ferrall.

    Who knows what happened, but I am glad Ferrall is gone form MMA.

  25. Asa says:

    Yep… Ferrall was never paid a dime because the the UFC only paid the people who pay him, so he never received any of it. Truly compelling arguments.

  26. Russell says:

    Honestly, is a disc jockey / radio talk show host considered a journalist? Even using the term “media” is a stretch. How many times do you hear your local radio DJ advertising that he will be at a local car dealer and to come out to get the best deals, etc. Isn’t that the same thing Ferrall and UFC were doing? Scott Ferrall and the Howard Stern chennels are far from the New York Times / Newsweek / CNN, etc. This is simply a company doing some good marketing with their exact target demographic. There is nothing illegal at all about it.


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