Dana White has seen enough of Chael Sonnen’s comedy routines.
Like anyone, the UFC president loves a good joke, but he wasn’t particularly amused when Sonnen used pop superstar Rihanna’s domestic violence incident with Chris Brown as the punch line to one of his jokes.
During a pre-UFC 165 media session, according to MMAJunkie.com, White suggested Sonnen stop the stand-up act and stick to being a sports commentator:
First of all, the joke wasn't that funny. He's not a comedian, and you can't make fun of domestic violence or any other thing. He's a sports commentator, and he's got to knock that s--t off. He's got to stop. He's got to stop, or it's not going to be good.
Sonnen took a lot of heat earlier in the week for the comments, which were obviously intended as a rip on boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.
During a live broadcast on the Fox Sports Live panel, Sonnen and other sports analysts were breaking down Mayweather’s victory over Saul "Canelo" Alavarez. As expected, Sonnen teetered toward going over the edge when he received an opportunity to speak, and this time he fell flat on his face:
Look, Floyd needs to keep doing what he's doing, which is fighting complete tomato cans that we've never heard of before. I've never seen anybody in the history of America get so rich and so famous off of having complete wimps throw a punch at their faces, and I know what you're saying. You’re saying, "Well, it's happened before, what about Rihanna?”
The off-color humor elicited several awkward chuckles from Sonnen’s peers on the panel. Sonnen, who deserves a Golden Globe for refusing to break character, simply looked around blankly afterward and asked, “Too soon? Was it too soon?”
Immediately after the comments, Fox issued a public apology on Tuesday to Deadspin.com on behalf of the network and Sonnen himself for the disparaging remarks:
FOX Sports regrets the comments Chael Sonnen made during last night's edition of FOX Sports Live. They were an inappropriate attempt at humor that Sonnen acknowledges shouldn't have been made and he apologizes to anyone who may have been offended by his remarks.
Sonnen’s ability to captivate an audience by virtue of a microphone alone has elevated him to superstar status in the MMA world.
However, there is a level of sensitivity that must be upheld when appearing on a major television network covering mainstream sports.
People generally love to hear Sonnen’s opinions mixed with occasional humor, but it’s easy to see why some were offended by his comments.
Domestic violence is a serious issue, and Sonnen made a major misstep in making light of it. With that said, the joke obviously wasn’t aimed at Rihanna directly, and Sonnen will likely get a pass for his slip of tongue.
“It's at the point where I'm not upset, but Chael is a smart guy,” White told MMAJunkie. “He's a funny guy. He's a talented guy and has a huge future. He's just got to stop with the [jokes], you know?”
Perhaps the best thing for Sonnen to do is temper his jokes instead of putting a lid on them. There’s no use in glossing over the obvious fact that the ridiculous one-liners are what makes Sonnen who he is.
Besides, who really wants to watch a serious and unfunny Chael Sonnen?