I actually met Dana White once.
For real. You can read all about it here, (and I highly recommend that you do). It wasn’t one of those quick, “sign my hotel pass and get out” sort of deals either. An honest to god, half an hour conversation with MMA‘s evil genius.
So, does that make me uniquely qualified to give him advice? Not really.
When it comes to the subject of the ever controversial president of the UFC, I tend to go all Swiss and declare neutrality. I really don’t know enough about the specifics of his business to go criticizing his every move. I mean, what do I know, really? I’m a university undergrad who’s never so much as managed my own lemonade stand. Most of the time, I’m content to get out of the way and watch it all unfold.
But seeing as this is my blog, I feel I can offer my opinion, even to Dana "F'ing" White. Without further ado, the 4 things Dana White really, seriously, truly needs to hear, starting with:
1) For the love of God, get the UFC a new intro!
A dramatic gong strike. Epic, operatic singing as we pan down a sculpted torso. Low light. A warrior, dressing in armour. He kneels, grabs some sand, and blatantly rips off Russell Crowe in “Gladiator“. Then we see the fighters - in film noir black and white - spout off horribly forced, manufactured “trash talk” sound bytes. More gladiator. The music reaches a crescendo. Then the trademark, ultra generic UFC heavy metal song kicks in. Devastating highlights of the night’s fighters. INTO PIECES! And then we cut to Goldy.
To any UFC fan, this sequence is ingrained memory. For as long as Zuffa has owned the UFC, it has been the signature intro of the organization. It is as much a promotional trademark as the Bruce Buffer’s self induced whiplash.
But let’s face facts folks: it’s lame. Really lame. Like poorly conceived B-Movie meets Jerry Springer meets bush league professional wrestling league bad. It has really run it’s course and it’s time the UFC put this tired old horse out to pasture for good.
I know, I know - I can hear the angry mobs of MMA fans gathering their torches already. I know I’m going for the heart here. The UFC intro is classic, dude! So what if it’s a little corny. You can’t beat tradition! Besides, numbers are booming, and I don’t hear any complaints from new fans about the tacky intro. Why fix if it ain’t broken, right?
Well of course new fans aren’t mad - they’re new fans, and they don’t know any better. And the old fans will always cling to tradition. My point is, what both fans need to wake up to is the image this intro projects to the outside world. MMA is a sport fighting for true legitimacy - not flash in the pan status. Watch the intro to something like HBO Boxing, or any of the excellent “24/7” or “Fight Camp 360” shows produced by them or Showtime. They are high class, professional, and absolutely of the highest brow. They scream legitimacy, confidence, and staying power.
Then you watch Mr. Gladiator suit up once again with “Face the Pain” blaring through your TV speakers for the millionth time, and it all goes out the window. It screams tacky, schlock, lowest common denominator appeal. By the time it’s over, your half expecting Hulk Hogan to suddenly appear on screen.
Face it, folks - it’s time the UFC ditch this super lame intro and get something that exudes a little dignity, class, and most of all, legitimacy.
2) Stop pretending it’s 2004!
Seriously now. I get that you matured and grew in the sport during this rough, wild west time, arguably the “golden age” of Mixed Martial Arts. I get that many of the fighters who were dominant then - Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva - continue to be some of the biggest stars and PPV draws in the MMA world today. I’m down with utilizing the full worth of an athlete and profiting from his drawing power for as long as practicable.
But let’s be honest - the last few months has seen some truly puzzling matchmaking. I know not all of this is the UFC President’s fault. There was that spate of injuries that derailed the last half of 2009, but we can at least blame that on his bad karma, right? But it goes beyond that.
For starters, what dark, foggy, formless title picture does Rich Franklin occupy?
The UFC continues to push him as a PPV headlining fighter while refusing to acknowledge the awkward reality that coming up massively short twice against Anderson Silva, and the latter’s proclivity to move between 185 and 205 basically locks him out of any title picture for the rest of his career (assuming he doesn’t get crazy and become a heavyweight or something). It’s time to let him either try to build one last run at a title (preferably 205) or acknowledge that his days of elite level contendership are over.
But for God’s sake, stop charging us $49.99 to watch Franklin headline as Anderson Silva’s gatekeeper. That’s the exact role he was hoping to avoid by moving up from 185, and the exact role he has played in his last 3 fights.
Then you gave Phil Baroni and Frank Trigg both contracts and PPV fights when both men are so far into the twilight of their careers that darkness has pretty much fallen. Trigg doesn’t remember his last fight. Baroni is probably still limping. I’m not sure what the UFC gained from either man, other then stepping stones for their up and comers. Or destroying their potential in other organizations.
And was that really Mark Coleman’s grizzled, shoe leather mug headlining your Superbowl PPV? I know, there were a ton of injuries and cards were falling apart. But for the love of God man, Mark Coleman? Really? “The Hammer” was a classic old timer, but even his most ardent fans had to admit he had never grown in the sport. A strong double leg and peanut sized gas tank will only get worse as you enter middle age.
But the true kicker was when you announced Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell as coaches on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Don’t get me wrong, in some ways I’m happy about this. No champions or title pictures are going to be confused or held up for six months. There is genuine bad blood between the two, and knowing the two men (especially Tito) there’s a good chance of some verbal fireworks. It could make for entertaining TV, far away from the man ebb and flow of the UFC’s 205 pound title picture.
All of this good news is undercut, however, by the reality that Tito vs. Chuck 3 is perhaps the most meaningless third match of a trilogy in MMA history. There were no lingering questions, no unresolved doubts following their first two meetings. Tito cannot overcome Chuck Liddell’s takedown defence, and Chuck as a result picks him apart with his superior striking. “Iceman” wins via TKO. Case pretty much closed.
Except until you needed someone to helm your Spike TV reality bonanza. Then you brought out this old feud from the attic, dusted it off, and did your best to sell it to fans as authentic, meaningful, and relevant.
The problem is, you did it at the worst possible time.
Chuck Liddell is coming off of two brutal, one sided KO losses and a stint on “Dancing with the Stars” that has all but eliminated his former hype. He has a questionable chin, and his increasingly slurred speech will be a black cloud hanging over the seasons proceedings. Tito is coming off a long layoff and a disappointing, one sided decision loss to Forrest Griffin. There are serious questions about his health, commitment, and future in the sport. Plus, it looks increasingly like Mark Coleman was right about Tito. Neither guy has a shred of credibility as a legitimate contender at 205.
So with no lingering questions and either men facing the very end of their careers - yeah, sounds about right to do the third fight, and the most highly promoted one. It’s not 2003 anymore, Dana - and the UFC can’t make something, or someone, a big deal just by saying it is so.
3) You were right about M-1.
Remember when the UFC was negotiating with Fedor (one of the previous 3 million times) and Dana White called Fedor’s management team a “bunch of crazy Russians”. Well, the internet got all offended (what we do best) and then went ape. Dana is just a greedy, capitalist American who wants to control the whole MMA universe. His contract demands are unreasonable! Fedor is leading the way for fighter’s to make more money! M-1 is showing how the co promotional model is better for MMA! Hooray! Huzzah!
I think enough has transpired to show that we were wrong, and you, Mr. White, were right. M-1 really are a bunch of crazy Russians - and they’re doing their best to prostitute the legacy of perhaps the greatest fighter in MMA history.
I mean, can anyone believe the latest round of news regarding Fedor, Strikeforce and M-1?
Fedor was set to face Fabricio Werdum on a CBS card in February, but rumours continued to swirl and Strikeforce announced nothing. Then the fight was pushed back to May instead of April, presumably pulling it from CBS. Then, in a surprise move, the fight was scrapped altogether, as Fedor’s management decided to renegotiate the terms of Fedor’s deal at the last minute and, by all accounts, extort more money. Dan Henderson vs. Jake Shields was left holding the baton as the main event fight on CBS. Good luck with that.
Then Fedor’s management began making incendiary statements in the press, claiming Strikeforce HW champion Alastair Overeem was on steroids and crapping all over the biggest fight Strikeforce could make for Fedor right now. Instead, Strikeforce was left to book Brett Rogers for the title shot despite coming off a loss while Fedor is seemingly poised to leave his Strikeforce contract in limbo to pursue a fight with Josh Barnett in DREAM (the irony of him ducking an Overeem fight on account of steroids to pursue a fight with Barnett is almost laughable).
In the process, M-1 has destroyed whatever remaining credibility they had, left the Strikeforce HW title picture in shambles, and continued to leave Fedor’s career legacy in frustrating, money grubbing lingo.
Jose Canseco is apparently “training” for a serious shot at MMA now. It’s a pure desperation, freakshow attempt. And if the money was right, M-1 would book him to fight Fedor in a minute. I truly believe that.
Forget Fedor in the UFC. Dana, stay as far away from the red menace as you possibly can. It’ll be up to Fedor to decide if securing his legacy is more important then lining his wallet.
Don’t bet on it.
4) Someone explain the rules of MMA to Mike Goldberg.
Seriously. Someone send him an e-mail titled “HOT PORNO LESBIAN ACTION XXX!!!!!” and when he clicks the link it actually takes him to the MMA page on Wikipedia.
I actually met Dana White once.