The UFC 119 pre-fight press conference is in the books, however, the real action began afterwards when the elephant in the room was finally addressed.
Chael Sonnen, who recently failed a drug test overseen by the California State Athletic Commission, was discussed at length to a small group of reporters huddled around UFC President Dana White, who was sitting on the end of the stage holding center court.
“Here’s the thing you guys have got to understand. I’ve been in this business for 10 years. I’ve been in the fight business since I was 19. There’s a lot of stuff you guys don’t know. Every day, when my big toe hits the floor and I get out of bed, that sh*t happens. I have to deal with it. It’s no different than any other day. Am I disappointed? Yes, absolutely,” said White.
He also went out of his way to address the “misconceptions” regarding the responsibility the UFC management has in reference to the athletic commissions.
“The big misconception is that Dana tells the athletic commission this and that. I don’t tell the athletic commission jack sh*t. The athletic commission could give a flying rat’s a*s what I think or what I have to say. They oversee me. They tell me what I’ve got to do. I have to sit back now and see what’s going to happen.”
He continued, “Every other sport has a commissioner. The NFL has a commissioner. When something goes wrong he comes in and says here’s what’s going to happen. The government tells my fighters what’s going to happen to them. Every time these guys step inside the Octagon and compete the government is overseeing this. They drug test them. They do all the medical testing. They do everything. They tell me what’s going to happen.”
Sonnen has been suspended for one year by the CSAC and fined $2,500, although he is in the process of appealing.
White has been the target of criticism for not going above and beyond to punish offenders in order to deter future performance enhancing drug users. It’s been an issue that has continued to pop up from time to time, from Hermes Franca to Sean Sherk to Sonnen.
Despite the wishes of many MMA pundits and fans, White remains adamant that further punishment beyond the scope of the governing bodies is something he’s simply not willing to adopt.
“The government will come in. They’ll test these guys. You get yourself busted for taking whatever it was you were taking, marijuana, or some illegal substance. Here’s what I’m going to do (if I’m the commission). I’m going to take away your ability to work for a year. You can’t make a living for a year."
"Then on top of that I’m going to make you pay a fine from this fight you were having. Most of these fighters—that money that they had from their fight—that’s already spent. I’m going to buy this and I’m going to do that. Plus, the tax on that money. They’re going to get taxed on that money and they have to pay that fine."
"You don’t realize how devastating it is. They’ve already been punished. They’re down and out. What am I going to do? Go over and kick them in the face? What else is there to do? I’m going to fine you and suspend you for another three months? The government is the commissioner!”
Stay tuned to BleacherReport.com for future story developments.
Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who, in addition to BleacherReport.com, has contributed to CBSSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, and MMAmania.com. Follow him on twitter at @DerekBolender.