Dana White has never been your typical, run-of-the-mill leader in professional sports. He shows up to work in a t-shirt and jeans, publicly reprimands star athletes and drops F-bombs like he’s Samuel L. Jackson.
There is no sugar coating or beautifying things in the fight business when it comes to White. The UFC lives up to its slogan, “as real as it gets.”
Unfortunately, MMA fans aren’t always happy with White’s antics. Some have even pinned him as unprofessional and detrimental to the growth of the sport. Could you ever imagine NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell engaging in open Twitter wars with fans?
Fighters like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Randy Couture have sought opportunities outside the UFC because they simply don’t like the way White conducts business.
Love him or hate him, White is a straight shooter, and we never have to speculate where he stands on an issue. There are no cheesy, rehearsed lines spouted from closed-door meetings. People can at least appreciate the fact that White is an open book, and MMA fans are generally more clued in than any other sports fan.
White’s business manners have become their own vehicle for entertainment. We never know what he’s going to do or say. It’s like watching some crazy reality TV show unfold before your very eyes.
Here are Dana White’s top “Holy S#!T” moments from the first half of 2013.
Picture Dana White standing in a WWE ring across from a 67-year-old Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania.
Yes, the slobberknocker of all slobberknockers nearly happened.
During an appearance on Canadian talk show L'antichambre, White claimed McMahon challenged him to a fight either in the UFC or at Wrestlemania:
“I've never said this before ever in an interview. If Vince hears this, he's going to go nuts. Vince is too old, which he won't think he is and he'll go crazy. Vince wanted to fight me. He called me up and said, "Let's do it. We can either do it in the UFC or let's do it at WrestleMania.”
Wrestlemania is an annual event the WWE puts on that serves as the Super Bowl for professional wrestling. The event has included the participation of a plethora of celebrity guests in the past ranging from Donald Trump to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Of course, White shot down the proposal and cited McMahon’s age as the primary reason.
“A lot of people talk about Vince. I've always said it and I'll say it again, I respect Vince very much, but Vince is too old to be fighting anyway,” White said on L'antichambre.
Age is nothing but a number, especially when it pertains to ole Vinnie Mac.
The WWE CEO is one of the few senior citizens walking the face of the Earth with the body of a Greek god. White is certainly right about one thing: McMahon is nuts. Over the years, we have seen him whacked with bedpans, thrown through tables and beaten with chairs.
Was White protecting McMahon or himself?
If a bout between the two ever came to fruition, boxing legend Mike Tyson told MMA journalist Ariel Helwani he’s putting his money on the crazy one:
"Oh, that's a tough one. That's a tough one because Vince is pretty big and tough and he got the wrestling moves down. Let's stick with Vince in that one."
It’s one thing to see fans and other fighters react to a spectacular knockout, but it’s something else entirely when the boss oohs and ahhs before literally jumping out of his seat.
This is exactly what happened when White witnessed the brutal spinning hook kick knockout UFC middleweight Uriah Hall landed on Adam Cella during the live taping for “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17.
Along with being the UFC President, White is also a fight fan. He isn’t a robot in a suit and tie pulling the strings from behind the scenes.
When Cella went down, White can be heard screaming in the background, “Are you kidding me? Holy s#!t!”
No worries, Dana, we all had the same reaction.
Ariel Helwani has a reputation for always asking the tough questions, but he barked up the wrong tree during a pre-fight press conference for UFC 158.
The MMA journalist led off in the questions by asking welterweight contender Nick Diaz why he missed the open workouts for UFC 158. Diaz apologized to the fans and admitted that he skipped out on the workouts to rest up for his title bout with Georges St-Pierre.
Even after the apology, Helwani tried to dig deeper for answers regarding Diaz’s whereabouts until White finally decided he had heard enough:
“Ariel, he’s here, he’s here now. … He’s here today and I guarantee you he’ll be there tomorrow at the weigh-ins, and I guarantee you he will be there on Saturday. You want to antagonize him. You want to aggravate him and get him pissed off.”
Even as White moves onto the next reporter, the tension in the air remains thick after the brief spat with Helwani. There was no riling up Diaz and creating juicy headlines for yours truly to write this time.
Thanks for trying, Ariel.
Dana White gave a whole new meaning to “all-access” when he allowed cameras into the surgery room for his ear operation.
After being diagnosed with Ménière's disease, the UFC President underwent an ear procedure in January that would give him a 70 percent chance of no longer having an attack.
According to MayoClinic.com, “Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes spontaneous episodes of vertigo—a sensation of a spinning motion—along with fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear.”
White includes a video of the surgery in his blog leading up to UFC on Fox 6. The video of the procedure isn’t for the squeamish, as it shows the surgeon working away on the infected ear. Unfortunately, the surgery was a failure, and according to White in an interview with Jay Mohr Sports on FOX Sports Radio, it actually “made things worse.”
There is of course a happy ending to this story. After the initial surgery, White spoke with New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who referred him to a stem cell procedure in Germany. The procedure was a complete success, and White has since returned to 100 percent.
He explained the surgery during his interview with Fox Sports Radio:
“All they do is they go in there, they take your blood, they incubate it, they spin it and add stuff to it. I don't know what the hell they do, I'm no scientist. I'm a million bucks now, man. I couldn't feel better.”
To think, he underwent all of that cutting and sawing for nothing.
During a 2009 appearance on the Opie & Anthony Show, via MMAFighting.com, Dana White called MMA referee Steve Mazzagatti the worst ref in the history of any fight business.
We are four years removed from that interview, and White’s stance still hasn’t changed the slightest bit.
At World Series of Fighting 3, former UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch got caught in a deep guillotine choke by Josh Burkman.
As the on-duty official for the bout, Mazzagatti ends up standing on the wrong side of the choke, which obstructs him from seeing Fitch go unconscious. Thankfully, Burkman shows tremendous class and respect by releasing the hold when he feels Fitch go limp.
Even with Burkman celebrating, it still takes Mazzagatti several seconds to assess the situation and officially call an end to the fight. White jumped on Twitter after the fight and continued his customary ripping of Mazzagatti:
“Glad Burkman stopped. Mazzagatti is a clueless idiot who will hurt someone and continue to ruin guys legacies. Much respect Josh”
“NSAC needs to seriously do something!! When you have been a ref that long and still don't know what u r doing its time to go away!!!!!”
White’s complaints are apparently falling on deaf ears, as Mazzagatti is still very much employed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“We have 475 guys under contract. We have over 100 guys too many. We have over 100 guys too many on the roster right now. What's going to happen is, if you lose, the blood has not all been spilled yet. There's more coming.”
News of perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch’s release shook the MMA community to its core. Panic spread throughout the UFC roster over who was next to go. Fitch has long been considered one of the best fighters in the world at 170 pounds, and his untimely release proved that no one was safe.
There was a major outpouring of support for Fitch, who went on to sign a fight deal with World Series of Fighting.
According to MMAFighting.com, the complete list of fighters released included Fitch, Wagner Prado, Mike Russow, Jacob Volkmann, Vladimir Matyushenko, Che Mills, Jay Hieron, Terry Etim, Paul Sass, Jorge Santiago, Mike Stumpf, Simeon Thoresen, C.J. Keith, Motonobu Tezuka, Josh Grispi and Ulysses Gomez.
During the media round-up with Graciemag.com, White stood by his decision and labeled Fitch as a declining fighter who would have an opportunity to fight his way back into the UFC.
“The difference between Jon Fitch and Charles Woodson, that just got cut. Jon Fitch can go get a couple of more fights and come back to the UFC. It’s not like Jon Fitch was on this incredibly [expletive] winning streak, ‘one of the greatest welterweights in the history of the world, this guy is a [expletive] Hall of Famer.’ The guy has never won a [expletive] title in his life.”
Needless to say, Fitch went on to get submitted by Josh Burkman in his WSOF debut.
Who could ever be mad at Justin Timberlake? We’ll give you three hints. He’s bald, swears like a sailor and his last name rhymes with fight.
The UFC President had a bad run-in with the Pop/R&B singer at the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. According to White, he was standing backstage with his kids and Lorenzo Fertitta’s daughter when they were snubbed by Timberlake for autographs and pictures.
White dished on the entire story behind the incident during an interview with Sports Illustrated:
"Recently me and my wife were at Nickelodeon Awards and we were backstage with the Black Eyed Peas in their dressing room hanging out. First of all, this thing is in L.A., so every guy on the planet wants to get their kids backstage with all the people that are back there. They had Bieber, Selena Gomez, all these people are back there. So my kids are back there and they're taking pictures with all these people and stuff. There [are] no other kids backstage. No other kids. Just my kids, and I think I have Lorenzo's daughter with me, too.
This was a few years ago. You name it, A-list, all the A-listers that the kids would love are backstage. The biggest d---head back there was Justin Timberlake. Just such a complete jack off, yeah. Just couldn't have been a bigger d---. I don't know if he's a UFC fan or not, but I'm not a big Timberlake fan. Takes two seconds to say hi to a kid. Takes two seconds. I never run by anybody. If you're a fan of the UFC and you like it or your kids like it, why would I not want to talk to you? Why would I not?"
The story quickly caught wind in the media and eventually made its way back to Timberlake, who immediately called White to squash the beef.
White hopped on Twitter afterwards to thank Timberlake for being “stand up and classy” about the situation.
In the end, Timberlake continued to prove that his everlasting charm can woo any man, woman or child.
Dana White and Randy Couture have endured several falling-outs over the years, but there may be no coming back from the most recent one.
After retiring from MMA, Couture found himself in limbo. He still wanted to contribute to the sport in some shape or form, but according to him, the UFC never appeared interested in keeping him involved.
With his back against the wall, Couture did the unthinkable. He signed a multi-year contract with Bellator Fighting Championships.
White swiftly responded by permanently banning the Hall of Famer from any future UFC events. Sadly, Couture’s son, Ryan, is caught up in this ongoing mess. Ryan is no longer allowed to have his father in his corner or at the venue for support during UFC fights.
During a media scrum for UFC 156, via MMAFighting.com, White talked about the conversation he had with Ryan about the situation:
“I called Ryan Couture and I said, ‘Ryan, this is probably the weirdest conversation you are ever going to have with me. You signed a deal with us to fight in the UFC. I want you here if you want to be here. But I need you to understand this; me and your dad are not good. Me and your dad are never going to be good ever again as long as I walk this [expletive] planet. I know he's your dad and I don't want to call you up and tell you how much I don't like your father, but, if you want to leave the UFC,' because he, Randy, is not cornering him.
Randy Couture can't buy a ticket to this mother [expletive] event. I said, ‘He's not going to be around and I just wanted to be up front with you. I want to be honest and be up front. If you want me to release your from your contract so that you can go do a deal with Bellator, and have your dad maybe work with you and come up and do whatever, I will do that for you, too.'”
It’s hard to believe that someone who has dedicated so much to the sport could be exiled from a promotion he helped build from the ground up.
White gives new meaning to the phrase, “Don’t cross the boss.”
Dana White has never shied away from lashing out at fans, but he seemed particularly perturbed by those painting Anderson Silva’s UFC 162 loss to Chris Weidman as a “fix.”
In one of the most shocking upsets in UFC history, Weidman knocked Silva out in the second round of their middleweight title bout to end a near seven-year reign.
Struggling to come to terms with the loss, fans began painting conspiracy theories in hopes of creating some logical explanation behind Silva being defeated. Many pointed back at odd pre-fight interviews like the one with SPORTSNETCANADA, where Silva actually predicted his loss to Weidman.
Others relied on the actual bout itself. In typical fashion, Silva dropped his hands and invited Weidman to engage in the standup exchanges. The only difference this time around was Silva’s excessive taunting, which Weidman eventually capitalized on and landed the left hook that set up the end of the fight.
During an appearance on ESPN’s “Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable,” White unleashed a tirade on would-be conspiracy theorists:
“A lot of the fighters picked Chris Weidman to win, and they said, ‘As soon as he gets his hands on Silva, he’s going to submit him.’ They were down on the ground right from the beginning of the fight. He could have submitted him, he didn’t submit him. Who’s gonna throw a fight by getting viciously knocked out? Do you know how stupid you have to be to even think that? You are an absolute moron.”
Fighter pay has been a controversial topic in 2013, but it all came to a head when Dana White threatened to eliminate fight-night and discretionary bonuses.
“You don't like the structure? All right, we'll pay the lower-level guys more money – no more f--king bonuses. You guys come in, you negotiate your contracts, and we do away with all bonuses. That's what I'm thinking about doing,” White told MMAJunkie.com.
For months, former and present UFC fighters complained about the promotion’s pay scale and a lack of health care benefits.
In an interview with GrapplerTalk podcast, Tim Kennedy even went as far as saying he could make a better living as a garbage man than a UFC fighter.
Jon Fitch took a more reserved approach an opted to break down his entire UFC earnings in a YouTube video. Other fighters who have alluded to a disproportionate pay scale in the UFC include Jacob Volkmann, Mark Hunt, Ken Shamrock, Don Frye, John Cholish, War Machine and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
After mountainous pressure for a response from fighters and the MMA community, White finally spilled his guts on the harsh realities of being a UFC fighter during an interview with Bleacher Report’s Trent Reinsmith:
“This isn't a long-term f****** job. You don't come into the UFC thinking, man, I'm going to stay here until I'm 65 and then I'm going to retire, get a pension and do this, that and the other. This is a f****** short-term gig.
You have a window of opportunity that's about this big, if you're lucky. If you're talented enough, and you get in there and you do as many amazing things as you can in front of as many people as you can and make as much money as you can, and enough contacts and this and that, so when that inevitable day that will finally come when it’s over you put yourself in a great position where you can move on and do better things, and if you figure it out right, you don't ever have to work again. Who the f*** on this planet doesn't understand that?”
If there’s one surefire way to get on White’s bad side, bring up discrepancies in fighter pay. Go ahead and try it. You’ll wish you hadn’t.