(“You know what, I *would* like to address what @sk8rdood45 said about this matchup. You tell @sk8rdouche that he and his 22 followers can all go f*ck themselves! Good question, Ariel.” Photo via Getty.)
Do me a favor. Head over to any one of the “serious” or “unbiased” or “professional” MMA sites you visit IN ADDITION TO CagePotato on a regular basis and scan through the headlines. There are plenty of options to choose from.
Now count how many headlines you read that contained the phrase “Dana White on_____” or something of the like. Hell, count how many times you see a picture of his face. Then comb through the articles a second time and see how many *without* White’s name in the headline still relate back to:
1) His opinions on a TUF-related issue.
3) Someone else responding to something he said.
There were at least four, weren’t there? Lucky for you, we’re on the downslope of a week with no UFC event on the immediate horizon. Had you visited those websites a few days ago (or next weekend, for that matter), you would have been bombarded by more Dana White news than you could read in a month. You’d find no relief in the forums either, where the most popular thread by far would be the one where White personally called you a “dipshit” and a “pussy” for daring to question him from your grandmother’s basement.
Does anyone else see what is wrong with this picture? Here we have a sport where, in one promotion alone, over 400 fighters are currently employed. Fighters who surely have interesting stories to be told — of struggle, of achievement, of defeat, of proper zombie killing technique. Yet our headlines have become — ever-increasingly, it seems — devoted to one man and what he has to say about every last aspect of our sport, no matter how trivial or underwhelming.
Most recently, White’s comments regarding Georges St. Pierre’s “retirement” and what he “owes” the fans spurned somewhat of a media backlash, with both fans and critics questioning everything from White’s choice of words to his relationship with his fighters. If the incident made me question anything, however, it’s why we, the MMA media, seem to need White’s constant input in the first place. White has become not only the source from which most of our news is delivered, but the news itself. He is both the schlemiel and the schlimazel, so to speak, and this shit needs to stop.
It’s not that I can’t understand why we choose to cling to White — he is a fiercely opinionated, politically incorrect, short-fused, charismatic dynamo who just so happens to always have a camera in his face — it’s that I don’t understand why we continue to deem every. last. word. he speaks as “newsworthy.” Don’t get me wrong, there are news bits that are best when delivered by the UFC President himself — the future addition of a women’s strawweight division comes to mind. But, I’m sorry, Dana White “knowing” that Robbie Lawler would “take it to Rory MacDonald” last Saturday is not something I or anyone else should consider worthy of listening to, let alone devoting an entire article to.
Is it laziness? The general lack of journalistic integrity/know-how associated with bloggers? Or are we just out of fresh ideas and simply clinging to the hope that White will provide us with enough quotes to copy/paste an article out of before our next deadline? Is there any other sport wherein the journalists spending every waking moment seeking the President’s opinion on a Twitter feud between players or the disappointing ratings of a particular game?
I can’t answer any of the questions I just posed (except for the last one, which is a resounding “no”) and to be fair, I am part of the problem. Even now, I am doing exactly what I just raked several much more respected MMA bloggers/websites over the coals for: devoting an article entirely to Dana White. And maybe not tomorrow, maybe not on Monday, but at some point next week, I will write an article about Dana White calling Keith Kizer “a f*cking idiot” or taking the piss out of this judge or that commission or fighter X or fighter Y. I have never been more sure of anything in my life.
But the thing I like (and what I think most people like) about Dana White is that, despite his millions and millions of dollars and the dictator-esque pedestal he is placed on by fans and media types alike, he seems like a rational, genuine human being at his core. An everyman. The kind of guy who will still hop in a mosh pit with us nobodies if the occasion calls for it. In the political realm, it is often said that we vote for the Presidential candidate we feel we could “have a beer with,” and in that regard, White seems like the kind of guy who would not only have a drink with you, but drink you under the table and tell your girlfriend that dating you technically makes her a lesbian once you had passed out. You know, like any of your friends would.
Therein lies White’s appeal. He’s not some stone-faced CEO reading a prepared statement from a transcript, bowels trembling at the thought of accidentally saying something politically incorrect. He’s one of us. He’s reactionary. He’s stubborn. He’s occasionally irrational. But he’s also passionate; about the sport, about the direction it takes, about the well-being of his fighters. And whether he’s talking about being chased out of Boston by Whitey Bulger or reflecting on the early days of the sport, White almost always comes across as a genuine person. More importantly, he comes across as a fan.
That White makes himself so available to the public and press is a double-eged sword. On one hand, it highlights his passion, his intensity to be best at what he does and take his supporters along for the ride with him. But on the other hand, his vitriol-filled rants and personal attacks toward journalists often come across as unnecessary and unprofessional. Totalitarian even. Like he cares more about spin control than he does about being truthful. Like a behind-the-scenes look at the aforementioned stone-faced CEO. At a certain point, I can’t say when, the threshold for what we needed White’s opinion on and what we wanted his opinion on was breached. He’s become *too* available, and at times, it has come at the cost of the sport’s reputation.
I know, it’s easy to criticize the actions of a man under constant scrutiny and surveillance from the public eye, especially given the fact that I have never made an irrational decision or statement in my life. But when 90% of the headlines are about what Dana White is saying and not who he is saying them about, isn’t it safe to assume that we are getting a little off message? So I beg of you, fellow MMA media members: Stop devoting so much time to Dana White and start devoting more time to the guys in the trenches, their families, their trainers, and so on. Stop allowing White to form your opinions for you and start forming them on your own. It’s kind of your job.