Dana White and the UFC: Defining the Role of the "Gatekeeper" in MMA

Greg ParfittCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2010

A gatekeeper is defined as "someone who controls access to something."

It is a term often used by sports commentators, and it has become a mainstay of MMA terminology. MMA commentators use the term "gatekeeper" to describe a fighter they regard as someone you must beat to earn your way to the title, therefore controlling access to the top tier of a division.

In theory it’s another great way of categorizing fighters; however, I think the term and its attribution to fighters should be re-examined and looked at more carefully.

In professional journalism and communication, "gatekeeping" is a term used to describe the way in which ideas and information is filtered for publication, i.e. they only publish the news they think is newsworthy. Understanding this definition gives the use of the term "gatekeeper" by MMA commentators a different and extra level of meaning.

A gatekeeper in MMA is not just controlling access, they are filtering information and deciding the news they deem important to the sport. They are controlling the means of production, something I’ll discuss further, shortly.

Consequently the people currently occupying these positions in MMA actually carry huge importance in shaping the future of the sport, and I don’t mean in deciding who fights who. No one embodies this role more then UFC President Dana White.

Karl Marx (stay with me on this) said the mass media are:

“a 'means of production' which in capitalist society are in the ownership of the ruling class.”

According to the classical Marxist position, the mass media simply disseminate the ideas and world views of the ruling class and deny or defuse alternative ideas. Ok, so now let me try to explain. 

Dana White, in the MMA universe, is without doubt part of the ruling class. Therefore, according to Marx, the mass media will use White’s ideas to shape the views of the working class, i.e. the rest of us. Whether you accept this or not, it is already happening.

The UFC routinely makes up roughly 80 percent of all MMA news each week. Of this news, you can be assured that Dana White and the UFC has decided exactly what news is released and when. Subsequently, through the mass media, he is controlling, be it consciously or subconsciously, what we, the working class, are talking about and our views in regards to the UFC. 

The recent Brock Lesnar saga is a great example of how Dana White and the UFC controlled the means of production (the media) and therefore our views on the Heavyweight Champ. Would anyone else’s stomach be headline news for such a long period of time? Was Lesnar’s illness really even news?

Or was this all done deliberately to keep our real views on the subject and the UFC under wraps. Just go back and look at the amount of Lesnar posts on B/R last week! 

So next time you start to think of gatekeepers or see the likes of Sean Sherk and Marcus Davis referred to as gatekeepers, think again. You, me, every one of us is having our opinions shaped by Dana White and the UFC everyday. The next time you listen to Joe Rogan refer to a fighter as the best in world, don’t just accept it, question it! 

Every piece of information, breaking news, or quote is being filtered by gatekeepers like Dana White. So I would ask you to think first when there is so-called "breaking news" released from the UFC. Is this really newsworthy?

Or do you think it's important because you are being told it is by the UFC. Maybe then, we here at the B/R community might have a bit more to say then the plethora of MMA sites that exist today!


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