UFC President Dana White: love him or hate him, he certainly gets your attention.
For many of us, it was his appearance on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter where we really got to know the man who has, in many ways, been the face and voice of MMA in the last decade.
It was his “Do you want to be a f—-ing fighter” speech to that cast of “TUF 1,” where he launched a profane rant about motivation and focus, which probably resonates the most.
Many remember the speech, but not everyone remembers the context for it.
As recalled by Chuck Liddell in his book, Iceman: My Fighting Life, The Ultimate Fighter contestants were frustrated upon learning that the cast of The Contender, a similar reality show which featured boxing talent instead of MMA, were receiving $25,000 a fight, while the TUF competitors were getting, essentially, nothing… unless they won the show.
White assembled the fighters at the UFC gym, launched his rant, and the fighters fell in line.
Then, as now, it seems nothing angers White more than something which seemingly takes him from a position of control.
This past Saturday night, after UFC 167 in Las Vegas, White launched another diatribe at two parties which had drawn his ire: Georges St-Pierre and the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
The comments towards St-Pierre were discussed yesterday. Unfortunately, the bitterness which White expressed at Nevada officials wasn’t any fairer.
White would claim that the Nevada State Athletic Commission was “despicable” and that he was “f—ing scared” to return to Nevada after the decision was rendered in UFC 167’s main event. He implied he was done with Nevada, ranting:
Does anyone here think Johny Hendricks didn’t win that fight? Did you see George getting smashed in the first round? It’s about damage. This is a fight. it’s about whoever inflicts the most damage. He got hurt, he got wobbled, he got dropped. I’m blown away that Georges St. Pierre won that fight.
Well, I’ll raise my hand here. I felt Hendricks did enough to win, but it wasn’t really a robbery and the result shouldn’t blow anyone away. A robbery isn’t a bout with two close rounds (in the first and fifth stanzas). Further, UFC fights have never featured “damage” among scoring criteria. UFC scores a bout round-by-round, with effective striking, grappling, and Octagon control. It’s plausible for a fighter to look much worse for wear (or, damaged) at the end of a fight and still have accumulated more winning rounds — and thus, win a fight.
It was not long prior to that first TUF season that White and UFC reps were doing everything possible to get UFC events sanctioned in Nevada. Now, with that success has come other options, so he doesn’t feel the same pressure. Now, it seems White feels the power, and is on the attack.
Nevada State Athletic Commission has its share of problems but they’re being attacked unfairly here.
Here’s the thing. Remember that infamous speech at TUF 1? White would come back the next day and set up a $5,000 bonus for any fighter who wins by knockout or submission afterwards. It wasn’t a compromise, but maybe it’s reason for hope.
Maybe he can be reasoned with here too.
There’s too much money to be made, too many great shows to present, to foster conflict between the fight capital and the biggest MMA promotion on the planet. Let’s hope next time that cooler heads prevail.