UFC Fighters with the Biggest Grievances Against Dana White
Dana White is no stranger to a good old-fashioned beef.
The UFC president has taken on promoters, the media and even his own fighters. Most recently, former UFC featherweight champion Cris "Cyborg" Justino called for him to apologize to her before she considers re-signing with the organization.
Will he? The crystal ball is not reading in Cyborg's favor after White emphatically stated that "We are out of the Cyborg business" in an interview with UFC correspondent Laura Sanko during the weekend.
We take time to look back at a few past and present UFC fighters who have had their issues with the longtime UFC president. Five different mixed martial artists spanning more than 20 years of MMA history were selected to show the UFC president is never afraid to speak his mind—even if it means speaking out against those he is supposed to promote.
It was all smiles when the UFC traded Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship for Ben Askren last October, but don't let that fool you. White and Askren were no fans of each other.
One of the most famous quips from White came when he called Askren "the most boring fighter in MMA history" in a tweet (Warning: NSFW language). It came shortly after Askren defended his Bellator welterweight title against Douglas Lima in April 2012.
In 2017, Askren told MMAWeekly.com about fighting with ONE: "For me, the biggest benefit is not having to work for Dana White. That guy's a freaking scumbag."
You know, things you say about future friends.
In between those comments, they said plenty more about each other. It wasn't a one-time or overnight thing. They traded barbs through the media for years before Askren went to the UFC.
They may act like it is all water under the bridge during the weigh-ins and press events (h/t TheMacLife), but we are probably just one minor incident away from seeing another all-out blitz between the two.
"Randy Couture comes off as the greatest guy in the world. Captain America. He's the furthest thing from it." Those were White's words in a 2013 media scrum.
The bad blood stems from contract issues.
After defeating Gabriel Gonzaga and defending his heavyweight title, Couture embarked on a year-plus-long legal battle with the UFC. He wanted to test free agency and make a fight with Fedor Emelianenko, since the Russian wasn't joining the UFC. Couture was tied up in court and paid $500,00 to lawyers while trying to fight his UFC contract, per MMAjunkie's Steven Marrocco.
It didn't work. He eventually returned to the company and fought until his retirement bout against Lyoto Machida in 2011.
Although he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and is one of the organization's legends, Couture doesn't seem welcome in the company anymore. He was once featured on commentary and was a spokesman for the promotion. Those days are long gone.
The UFC rarely, if ever, mentions his name.
Couture went to battle with White and the UFC, and it cost him more than just money. While he continues to work within the sport for other organizations, Couture shoulders a notable absence from the UFC.
(Warning: Video contains NSFW language.)
Cris Cyborg fought, and won, the last bout of her UFC contract July 27. But before she signs an extension, she wants an apology.
You might ask: For what?
We have to backtrack a bit. Cyborg was part of the UFC's opposition in the 2000s. She fought in one of the first majorly promoted women's events in MMA history on CBS for Elite XC in a high-profile bout against Gina Carano in 2008. Then she moved on to Strikeforce—another UFC competitor, and another promotion that was willing to make Cyborg a centerpiece of its organization.
Then the UFC got into women's MMA by signing Ronda Rousey in 2012. As Rousey made her ascent, the fervor was building for a meeting with Cyborg. All the while the UFC president had offensive things to say about Cyborg.
The former Strikeforce, Invicta and UFC champion recently posted a video of some of the things she wants an apology for before she'll consider re-signing. Among those, White suggested she looked like Wanderlei Silva in a dress when she appeared at the World MMA Awards. This was days after Rousey called her an "it" in a 2014 interview with USA Today. In the recent White interview posted to the UFC's YouTube page, White states he was only describing her physique due to steroids and nothing more.
Perhaps the vilest things said were on The Joe Rogan Experience. As Rogan recorded on White's jet along with Tony Hinchcliffe, they laughed about an NSFW joke regarding Cyborg having male genitalia. It was disgusting, and the UFC president was chuckling along. Both quotes can be heard in the video Cyborg posted last week.
It's understandable that she wants an apology.
Perhaps White's most famous feud has been with former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.
Once buddies who had a working relationship when White was his manager, the two quickly fell out when White assumed the president's position in 2001. There were contract disputes and a war of words throughout the years. In what was an almost comical turn of events, the feud was supposed to culminate in a 2007 boxing match.
Spike TV aired a special entitled Bad Blood: Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz, which showed the UFC president's training for the bout. The fight never happened because Ortiz backed out of the agreement.
However, unlike a lot of White's beefs over the years, the one with Ortiz cooled with time. Ortiz re-signed with the company in 2009 and fought under its banner until 2012 when he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
After his time with the UFC was over, Ortiz continued his fight against the company. He spoke out against practices within the UFC as he promoted his third bout against Chuck Liddell—this one with Golden Boy. While those criticisms were likely not well-received, it didn't spill over into a new public dispute.
Time has softened the edges between these two, but it still isn't all peaches and cream.
One of White's oldest feuds is with Frank Shamrock.
Shamrock was the 205-pound champion and beat favorite son Tito Ortiz. He retired, for the first time, after UFC 22 before White and the Fertitta brothers took over with Zuffa. There was an immediate falling-out, and he was never seen inside the Octagon under the Zuffa banner. All these years later, Shamrock still has not been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
The heat between the two carried on through Shamrock's camp and prevented teammates from getting fights.
Jonathan Snowden chronicled the beef in a 2011 article for SB Nation and noted its ripple effects:
"Shamrock was persona non grata with Zuffa. Things got so bad that [Shamrock's former coach Javier] Mendez and [Bob] Cook changed the name of their fight team from Shamrock Submission Fighting to the American Kickboxing Academy. 'Frank had issues with some people in the business,' Mendez explained. 'It was easier to get our guys fights that way.'"
It has not cooled over the years.
In 2018, in response (Warning: NSFW language) to a Twitter user's request that the UFC and White reconsider letting Greg Hardy fight on its roster, Shamrock made several serious allegations against the UFC president. Shamrock called White "a racist, lair [sic], a bully and generally a bad person." In the same tweet, he alleged that White beat up a woman.
White never responded to the allegations, but it seems clear these two aren't on a path toward reconciliation. Sometimes feuds are forever.