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Claudia Gadelha’s Sucker-Punch ‘Totally Different’ Than Paul Daley’s, According to Mind-Reading UFC President

(“You can’t put the slap back in the jar.” — Traditional Italian proverb that I just made up. / Photo via Getty)

By Trent Reinsmith

Dana White can see into your soul. At least, that’s sort of what the UFC president implied after Claudia Gadelha sucker-punched Joanna Jedrzejczyk following their strawweight fight at Saturday’s UFC on Fox 13 event.

The incident played out in a way that was very similar to the late punch that Paul Daley threw at Josh Koscheck after their UFC 113 fight had come to its conclusion. White wasted little time firing Daley from the UFC after his late strike, telling those at the post-fight press conference: “He’s done. I don’t give a shit if he’s the best 170-pounder in the world. He’ll never come back here again…I’m probably the most lenient guy in sports. And this is probably one of the most lenient organizations. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, things happen. There’s no excuse for that. These guys are professional athletes. You don’t ever hit a guy blatantly after the bell like that whether you’re frustrated or not. It was probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen…I don’t care if he fights in every show all over the world and becomes the best and everybody thinks he’s the pound-for-pound best in the world. He will never fight in the UFC ever again.”

I guess you could argue that due to the nature of the sport (basically punching another individual in the head), Daley should have gotten off with a strong warning, but White went with the nuclear option and permabanned Daley on the spot.

So, when Gadelha did pretty much the exact same thing after her fight with Jedrzejczyk had come to a close, the expectation would have been for White to appear at the UFC on Fox 13 post-fight press conference red-faced with anger. He didn’t — White more or less just shrugged it off.

The UFC president said of Gadelha’s actions, “People were going crazy on that one. She hit her after the bell, she did this, she did that.’ And then of course everybody goes back to Daley. ‘You kicked Daley out for that.’ The difference is this: when Daley did it to Koscheck, I was in there, and I went up to Daley because he was getting pulled around, and he didn’t care. He didn’t give a s–t. He looked right at me and said he didn’t care. As soon as (Gadelha) did it to (Jedrzejczyk), she reached her hand out and she apologized to her. She said ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ She apologized.” White then added, “Those two had a war. They’re in the heat of a battle. She landed a kick and then the bell rang, and then she hit her with a punch. And then she completely apologized for doing it. Totally different scenario.”

Yeah, no. It’s the same thing. She punched her opponent after the horn had sounded to end the fight. The only difference is that prior to this fight Gadelha was being touted as a potential title contender in a very thin weight class. In other words, the UFC needs to keep her around for the sake of the strawweight division. Daley was more or less expendable at the time he committed his foul.

White’s “she completely apologized” excuse for not punishing Gadelha for the illegal strike is almost as laughable as UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s claim of, “I don’t think she was trying to hit her there, I think she was trying to like high five her or something.”

Remorse or lack of remorse should have nothing to do with how these things are dealt with because there’s no way to tell if the remorse is legitimate or feigned. When someone is caught red-handed doing something they shouldn’t, of course they’re going to go through some sort of calculation as to how they can get out of trouble or at least minimize the punishment. (For the record, Daley apologized the next day after cheap-shotting Koscheck.)

How White can discern the level of real remorse that Gadelha had after the late punch is beyond me. Yet there he was proclaiming that he knew that Gadelha was sorry for her actions because, you know, she acted like she was sorry. If that’s all it takes to get out of trouble with White, one can only imagine the havoc that his children get away with.

The bottom line is Gadelha broke the same rule that Daley did in pretty much the same way Daley did, and she walked away from it without even getting a stern look from the UFC boss.

In other words, hypocritical business as usual for the UFC’s head honcho.

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