Dana White's Rant Sends UFC Down Dangerous Path
Dana White has long chirped that the Ultimate Fighting Championship deserves mainstream media coverage.
Well, he's got it now ? but for every wrong reason imaginable.
Dana White's rantVideo: Dana White had some choice words for a female MMA reporter about a recent story. See the expletive-laden rant.
So what is this whole rant about? Check out the story that sparked White's attack.
The UFC president did far more than verbally assault a female reporter Wednesday in a video blog entry. White slurred women, homosexuals and the mentally disabled in the obscenity-laced rant. The diatribe already was yanked from UFC's web site, but footage can still be found across the Internet. Next up: News outlets (this one included) that will salivate at the chance to show White at his worst.
He swore around 35 times in a three-minute span. White seethed about what he believed was an inaccurate article ? or in his words, "an absolutely (expletive) retarded story" ? about UFC's credentialing policy for fighters' agents and managers. He called Sherdog.com writer Loretta Hunt a "(expletive) dumb bitch" among a litany of other insults. And he knocked an anonymous source she quoted by using an anti-gay slur as well as a slang term for female genitalia.
The video was so over the top that you half-expected White to end the segment by saying, "April Fools!" Instead, White capped a foolish tirade with an obscene gesture and one final F-bomb toward Hunt.
Dana White presides over the UFC Fight Night weigh-in in March. (ufc.com / Special to FOXSports.com)
In other pro sports leagues ? the ones that White wants to have the UFC mentioned along with ? these are the kinds of comments that would get a commissioner fired. I don't expect the promotion to take that step with White, who is a part-owner of UFC's parent company.
UFC, though, should use some of the multimillions generated under White's watch to purchase a muzzle.
White is a bald version of hucksters like Don King and Vince McMahon, shooting from the hip since taking the UFC reins in 2001. At times, it's one of his most endearing qualities in a sanitized sports world. This is someone who didn't have a shred of self-consciousness while conducting a 2007 news conference in a Dead Kennedy's T-shirt featuring a crucifixion scene. He's also the same guy who later made sure to hold open the elevator doors for two older ladies and press buttons for their respective floors even though he was rushed preparing for a UFC card in Cincinnati.
I've covered team owners and promoters like McMahon who I truly consider rotten to the core. I don't feel that way about White even after this episode.
And perhaps surprisingly, neither does Hunt.
"I've had good experiences with Dana in the past," Hunt told FOXSports.com in her first interview about the video. "I still like him. I think he's done a lot of great things for the sport."
His middle name really should be "Black and" because White views the world that way. White is devoted to those who give blind loyalty. Those who have questioned UFC's business practices, including legendary fighters like Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture, have felt White's verbal wrath. Hunt, a long-time MMA journalist and author of Couture's autobiography, clearly falls into the latter category.
White's impact on mixed martial arts is just as clear-cut. His vision and indefatigable work ethic have transformed a company on the verge of bankruptcy into a burgeoning worldwide entity and pay-per-view giant. When the UFC was under previous ownership in the mid-1990s, MMA bouts were barred in most states. White and partners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta saved the genre thanks to rules changes and the targeting of young males. Now, more of that demographic is bound to watch a live UFC fight than an early-round NBA playoff game. Malls are filled with as many teenagers wearing TapouT shirts as traditional sports jerseys.
In the testosterone-fueled culture he has created, White's comments may not be considered over the line. Some insiders will write it off as "Dana being Dana." But in the big picture, those aren't the people that matter most.
The ones that do? Advertisers that might already be feeling squeamish about being affiliated with an inherently violent product and television executives who don't want to deal with a high-profile promoter spewing hate speech. The sport won't grow without the support of either party. Even with all the strides UFC has made toward mainstream acceptance, the quickest way to head back into the dark ages business-wise is to have a spokesman who sounds like he is still living in them.
Hunt said she didn't know White well enough to judge whether his slurs were reflective of deeper personal biases. Regardless, they are wrong.
The backlash may just be starting. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) already has publicly called upon White to apologize. A UFC spokesperson said the promotion had "no comment" when asked about White's video.
Here's what White should be saying while asking for forgiveness: "I'm sorry to Loretta Hunt. I'm sorry to have embarrassed the UFC. Sorry to have fed into misogynistic and gay stereotyping. Sorry to have vented in a fashion that casts a negative light on the entire MMA world.
"Really, really (expletive) sorry."
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