UFC: Hold Your Breath…It's Time to Appreciate Dana White

Levi NileContributor IIIMay 13, 2013

July 11, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; UFC president Dana White looks at his cell phone before the fight between Karlos Vemola and Francis Carmont during the middleweight bout of the UFC on Fuel TV at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps one of the most noted (and quoted) figures in the sport of MMA is the man who helped drag the UFC—sometimes kicking and screaming—into the limelight of professional sport, Dana White.

He’s been both sinner and saint under the Zuffa banner; a man who has shot from the hip, aggressively pursuing each goal he sets in order to make it a reality, happy to run over anyone who gets in his way of putting the sport and the UFC at the top of the world of combative sport.

Make no mistake about it, White has made some decisions that have left many, including myself, scratching their heads at one moment and screaming the next And he’s done it all with the full courage of his convictions, making him perhaps the most transparent figure in the whole of the sport.

His blatant exclusion of Frank Shamrock from the UFC Hall of Fame is infuriating for a fan like me, who watched Shamrock fight with a level of intensity and excellence that saw him recognized as the best fighter of his generation, all for good reason.

Yet, just when I think he’s all about the business of using the sport to serve his own needs instead of serving the sport for the needs of the fans, he turns around and displays the rarest kind of humanitarian spirit as he spreads his arms wide and shares the rareness of his life and position, elevating those less fortunate into the positions you hope those closest to you would enjoy if they had been dealt a tough hand.

For instance, take to heart this message, aimed at Dana White, on the popular MMA message board The Underground (mma.tv), where a member called on White to pay for a life saving surgery to help an infant from Thailand.

How many famous figures with multiple millions of dollars at their disposal would actually respond to someone who asked for no small degree of help to save the life of an unknown, infant or not?

Most would nod, clasp hands with said individual, then organize an event where said figure would make a token appearance, sign some autographs and brazenly declare that they had helped raise funds to pay for said surgery, when in truth all they had done was make a minor effort and spun the results into favorable press for themselves, and all the while, the need remained, largely unaccounted for, the infant another day closer to dying.

Not White.

Someone called him out, presented the case, asked for donations, and White just paid for the whole damn thing, then went about his day, never calling attention to himself or his actions.

The surgery was a success, and to this day, when White is taking flack, he never brings it up as counterpoint. 

He never brought it up to balance out his attacks on Loretta Hunt, or his unpopular attack on Jon Jones for the UFC 151 fiasco—hell, he doesn’t bring it up at all.


Because that’s something he did for himself, because he wanted to.

Some things are done with public consumption in mind, and some things are not; this was one of the latter: an act of kindness that proves virtue is its own reward.

It’s pleasing to note that this is not some isolated act of kindness on the part of White.

White also donated 5,000 pounds to help a young girl in the UK (Ruby Owen) get brain surgery.

He’s constantly accessible to fans, giving away free tickets and donating to many charities. He recently put forth a great deal of money to aid those who suffered from the recent bombing in Boston.

None of this should give fans pause when it comes to expressing their opinions—positive or negative—of White or his decisions, but it should help give them a more well-rounded picture of the man who has proven he is far more than the sum of the negative attention he gets for his role as UFC boss and ball-buster.

White is ruled by his passions, and sometimes they lead him into directions that seem to portray him as a man who holds his opinion of the highest regard (usually at the detriment of others), but it is good to see that those same passions encompass the better angels of human nature.

So, as much as he may infuriate, it should be remembered that men such as he are rare for many reasons, and that there is no doubt he has equal measures of all that is good in a man of means, and that should never be far from the corner of our eye.