MMA: This Week in Dana White's Head
Dana White's opinion is one of the most sought after opinions in MMA, and for good reason.
As president of the UFC, he has almost total control over what the biggest organization in MMA does.
Want to know who is getting a title shot? Dana White's opinion is the only one that matters.
Who deserves to be cut? Ask Dana White, and he'll certainly tell you who he's not happy with.
When it comes to those sorts of matters, White has the last word. At least until he changes his mind.
A different type of the question is the type of question that elicits the kind of response that a casual fan can grab onto.
Dana White occasionally misses the mark, but for the most part, he is able to capture or otherwise mold the fan perspective when it comes to opinions about fights and fighters.
He comes across as a true hardcore fan of the sport, and is one of the more articulate figures surrounding the sport.
But rather than just asking White these kinds of questions, where White's answers are going to be rather direct and straight forward, people in the media ask Dana White about all sorts of other things.
His responses reflect more upon his position as the president of the UFC than they do on any actual thoughts that might go through the head of an MMA observer.
Take his opinion of Fedor Emelianenko for example. It should be quite obvious that if Emelianenko were signed with the UFC, White would praise him to no end.
Because Fedor is outside of the UFC and part of a competing organization, White has been less than generous in his praise of the MMA great.
Taking these kind of comments completely seriously is the kind of thing that will make your head explode and post "OMG YOU"RE DRINKING THE ZUFFA KOOL-AID" whenever anybody writes something positive about the UFC.
So don't take Dana White literally all the time.
Try to imagine the kinds of things that are actually going on in his head.
Here are my interpretations of White's thought processes from recent events.
The Ref Should Have Stood Brandon Vera And Thiago SIlva Up
Why in the world would Dana White want the fight between Vera and Silva stood back up?
The answer obviously has very little to do with White's opinion on the competitive aspects of MMA.
Silva was giving Vera a solid thrashing on the ground, but for much of the fight, it wasn't the most aesthetically appealing of performances.
Dana White is all too aware of the meathead fans with limited attention spans who might one day decide not to buy a pay-per-view because there was too much boring ground fighting.
The idea that White presented was that nothing was happening. That was obviously not the case. The truth here is that what was happening was probably causing White's twitter account to explode due to the most meatheaded complaints.
I disagree with White here for a few reasons, though.
There are many reasons to disagree with standups in MMA, but perhaps the greatest argument is the one that is the most overlooked:
The fact that standups exists actually encourages the weaker ground fighter to stall in hopes of bringing the fight back to the feet.
If there were no standups in MMA, the weaker ground fighter would be forced to take risks to avoid losing in lame fashion, and this would actually lead to more excitement on the ground in many cases.
Quinton Jackson Beat Lyoto Machida
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Perhaps White thought Machida lost, and maybe he didn't.
But he had far too many reasons to be on Rampage's side given the controversial decision.
White knows that putting Jackson against the winner of the title fight between Mauricio Rua and Rashad Evans is a guaranteed huge money move.
Alternatively, moving Machida forward in the division doesn't present as many appealing options. A rematch with Evans could be marketable if Evans beats Shogun, but it still isn't as marketable as Evans vs. Rampage 2, and there really isn't any demand for Shogun vs. Machida 3 at all in the present moment.
The third option of having a rematch between Machida and Rampage was an appealing one for hardcore fans of the sport, many of whom already wish that these high-level fights could all be five rounds, but the rematch was only slightly appealing to the broader MMA audience.
So what we wind up with plays out something like this:
Rampage: I got my butt kicked.
White: Quiet, Rampage, I'm trying to sell some PPVs here!
Randy Couture Is Still A Top 10 Light-Heavyweight
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Couture has held up extremely well for a man in his upper 40s.
There are still many fighters in the UFC who Couture could potentially beat, and that's incredible considering his age.
But he almost lost to Brandon Vera, and didn't exactly look great against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
White's insistence that Couture is still a top 10 light-heavyweight probably has something to do with the fact that Couture is still a pretty big draw.
Nothing Bad To Say About The Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament
White has surprisingly little bad to say about the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament.
But perhaps not that surprising.
White knows that there is a hardcore audience out there that goes bananas at the entire idea of a tournament.
His praise of the Strikeforce tournament was perhaps a bit tepid, but I think it shows that as much as he would like to put Strikeforce back in its place, he knows enough not to anger his old-school MMA fans.
Jake Shields Deserves A Title Shot With Georges St. Pierre
Despite Jake Shields' lackluster performance against Martin Kampmann, White stuck by his opinion that Shields has earned his shot at the UFC belt.
While I have do think Shields deserves a shot at St. Pierre's title based on his record over the past five years or so, I think White has other considerations at play.
Deserving a title shot in the UFC is never strictly about earning wins. It's also about getting fan interest, media support, and providing a good stylistic matchup for the champion.
Although it seems that most analysts think that St. Pierre will beat Shields easily, Shields is still the most marketable challenger available because St. Pierre has already laid waste to the tippity-top of the division.
More than that, though, the hardcore MMA media has been championing Shields for a while now (though it seems they're now starting to beat the Diaz drum now that St. Pierre vs. Shields is actually happening). For once, White might actually have the media on his side in promoting a fight.
Lastly and most importantly, Shields is the exact kind of elite opponent who might make St. Pierre look like an absolute titan on the feet.
People have lamented St. Pierre's wrestling and long-distance striking game that is very effective for dominating fights, but not as great for finishing them.
Against Shields, St.Pierre will have little preventing him from completely unloading on Shields on the feet.
It's a perfect showcase for St. Pierre's standup leading into a fight with Anderson Silva.