Steroids in MMA
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Contributions Show UFC Isn’t as Powerless Against ‘The Government’ As Dana Would Have Us Believe

(The face of an angel. PicProps: Boston Globe)

One of the more hilarious (and largely overlooked) aspects of the UFC’s response to the recent Chael Sonnen steroid fiasco was that whenever anybody asked Dana White about drug testing in MMA he basically threw his hands up and said the company couldn’t have anything to do with it, because “The Government” is in charge of that. For example, when White discussed the topic with Ariel Helwani before UFC 119 he took on a wide-eyed reverence that was so un-Dana it was clear he was just sticking to the company-approved talking points: “Everybody has this belief that, ‘Oh, Dana White has the commissions in (his pocket).’ Listen, the commission doesn’t give a shit what I think — what I think, what I say, nothing,” White said. “You’re dealing with the government, OK? That’s like thinking Dana White can tell the IRS what to do. It’s never gonna happen.”

Now, either DW is the only millionaire businessman in America who thinks “The Government” is doing a great job regulating his industry … or he’s bullshitting us. Obviously, his equating state athletic commissions with the IRS is laughable, but the assertion that a billion dollar company like the UFC couldn’t possibly get involved with “The Government” is also pretty clearly not true. In fact, according to reports out this week, Zuffa, LLC would very much like to take an active role in helping New York state pick its next governor, and this is certainly not the first time the UFC has dipped into its pockets to help sway “The Government” to its way of thinking.

You’ll recall that two years ago, the UFC hired a powerful firm of lobbyists to help “educate” Congress about MMA … and also apparently to try to avoid the establishment of a national boxing commission which would be overseen by the Commerce Department. Such an entity could potentially regulate the way fighter contracts are structured, and it’s pretty easy to see why Zuffa wouldn’t want that to happen. It’s also a given that a federally controlled fight commission could greatly impact how drug testing is handled in combat sports and it doesn’t take a huge logical jump to read between the lines about how promoters secretly feel about that, either.

Now the New York Post brings us news that Zuffa has dropped a cool $75,000 into the coffers of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democratic candidate to replace outgoing pro-MMA governor David Patterson. Cuomo is running against Republican Carl Paladino, a batshit crazy Tea Party-type and keyboard racist who has already said he has “reservations about cage fighting,” according to the Post. Cuomo has refused to take a stand on how he feels about legalizing MMA in the Empire State, but if the UFC is contributing to his campaign, perhaps it knows something we don’t. Not that Zuffa could ever influence “The Government” or anything …

Except that’s exactly what it appeared to do in Illinois, where the Chicago Sun Times and Huffington Post detail how “a classic Illinois cocktail of political clout and campaign cash led to (MMA’s) legalization.” According to the Sun Times, the UFC “made a total of $30,100 in campaign contributions to 23 state officeholders” in Illinois and former governor (and crazy person of a totally different variety) Rod Blagojevich writes in a recently published book that he “signed the legislation legalizing mixed martial arts to score points with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s brother, Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel, the real-life model for the character Ari Gold in the HBO series ‘Entourage.’” Ari Emanuel reportedly owns a talent agency which lists Zuffa as one of its clients.

UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta are also – as billionaires often are – pretty into the campaign contribution scene. Check out a list of some of their donations right here. From the looks of it, they’re both pretty high on Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (the politician reportedly chiefly responsible for deregulating the dietary supplement industry) and Nevada Senator John Ensign, a probable Republican presidential hopeful in 2012.

And all of that is to say nothing of what’s going on in Canada, where the lobbyists Zuffa hired to promote MMA in Ontario are now reportedly advertising a $250-a-ticket fundraiser for the provincial Premier who OK’ed the sport’s sanctioning there, prompting an investigation.

So, what’s this all mean? Well, obviously the UFC isn’t doing anything wrong by contributing to the political campaigns of people it thinks will help further its agenda. Nevertheless it should make you smile the next time you hear Dana White referring to state athletic commissions as “The Government” and acting like the UFC couldn’t possibly do anything to sway the way they oversee MMA.

Basically, Zuffa wants to play both sides of the fence here. When the topic is drug testing the UFC wants us to believe it would love to clean up the sport, but is totally powerless to do anything about it. However, when the topic is, say, opening up the lucrative markets of NYC, Chicago and Toronto to MMA, Zuffa isn’t afraid to whip out the wallet and get its hands plenty dirty. It doesn’t seem like both things can be true.

Cagepotato Comments

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dranokills- October 8, 2010 at 6:57 am
Mike Russell Says:
Thu, 10/07/2010 - 16:21

And for the record, contrary to all of the fingers that have been pointed at me, I haven't banned anyone. There wouldn't be anyone left if we actually started looking at TOS violations.
oh well fuckin waaaaaaaaaaa.
Charming Charlie- October 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm
Comments Cliff Notes:

1. Bro, we'd rather Cage Potato sell out and keep this kind of reporting to a minimum in order to get more JDog exclusive photos of events we already see everywhere else.

2. Durr, poly-tick make Durr head hurt!

3. Good job on providing insight into some of the behind-the-scenes of what's going on in the MMA industry. I hope to see more muckraking as time goes on; it's a universal good.
steampunk22- October 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm
Sometimes I can't help but feel its a little tense around here.


Pretty sure you hit the nail on the head with that one. Must be nice to literally be that rich. You know, if you go for that extravagantly wealthy sort of thing.
Mike Russell- October 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm
And for the record, contrary to all of the fingers that have been pointed at me, I haven't banned anyone. There wouldn't be anyone left if we actually started looking at TOS violations.
Mike Russell- October 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm
You're confused, kid. Nobody ever said we were banned because of comments. I did say that some fighters won't deal with us because of articles that have been written about them here and others have been turned off of working with us again due to shitty comments left by our members following interviews and stories we did on them.See ReX's story about Jessica Pene as an example. ;)
Almost North- October 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm
Much like Mark Cuban, they can afford to be the only guys in the room not wearing ties
Dan The Viking- October 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm
Dana and Lorenzo are rich? Why cant they afford ties?
Fried Taco- October 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I'm definitely not a Wereguido.

I just wanted to say that I'm a nerd, and I'm here tonight to stand up for the rights of other nerds. I mean uh, all our lives we've been laughed at and made to feel inferior. And tonight, those bastards, they trashed our house. Why? Cause we're smart? Cause we look different? Well, we're not. I'm a nerd, and uh, I'm pretty proud of it.
jyveturkey- October 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm
I love how everyone thinks they're an expert on the subject. I think everyone can agree Dana consistently lies his ass off. Whatever, is what it is. I don't think this story is far fetched at all and I hope it lands right in Dana's lap. I'm down for anything that may in any amount help start the steroid/non-steroid divisions.
itsgalf- October 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm
you got one thing right about the NY thing: If you want a governor you'll be able to buy, go with the Democrat candidate.
RwilsonR- October 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm
LOL Steampunk!

Would that certain someone be the same one who banned you?
steampunk22- October 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm

ditto. I was liking the photos! Nice work btw

I feel like maybe someone on here once blamed the commenters on CP for being the reason there was no press pass. Seems a little silly at this particular juncture...

Just sayin. ;)
Mikey- October 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm
This is how the government works. All the time. What's the big fucking deal?
RwilsonR- October 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm
@ Fried Taco - more like Locutus of Borg without the facial implants.... umm... I mean, I have no idea what you're talking about... NERD!!!

Frank Mur- October 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm
DW says' "One MILLLLIONNN Dollars!" (while Frank Trigg sits atop his back in a baby basket smiling)
Almost North- October 7, 2010 at 12:44 pm
Amen J-dog, love those pictures. You the man
J-Dog- October 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm
I hope for the sake of the whole CP nation that this one stays under the UFC's highly tuned radar. I think everyone was liking the exclusive photos that the press creds brought!
ccman- October 7, 2010 at 11:48 am
@ Agent Smith The UFC tests in the UK because they do not have a regulating body, and to not do so would look very bad. they also tested in Japan, and the Abu Dabi fights. For the company that fought to get the sport regulated to not do so would be a PR nightmare, and they sure are not giving up those markets.

And in your own example, then Mazzagotti and cecil peoples should be unemployed in all states since the UFC has lobbied to not use them, and has publically fought to have them removed. Yet both still work, both still work UFC events. And doing that would not cost a state a nickle, the extra testing would cost a fortune.
agentsmith- October 7, 2010 at 11:39 am
The bottom line is this: if Dana White REALLY wanted to fight PED use in MMA, no one in the entire industry has more influence to make it happen. If he started talking publicly about how the AC's aren't doing enough, they should start blood testing, and this and that, that would draw A LOT of public attention and heat on the AC's. Not to mention Zuffa's close ties with the NSAC, plus their lobbying power.

Plus, Zuffa could start doing extra testing themselves if they really wanted to, and it's not like they haven't before... for example, Chris Leben was caught by the UFC's own testing because that fight was in the UK.

But instead he's going with the old "it's out of my hands" cop-out, which basically tells us that he's not interested in tightening up the testing, probably because he's afraid of how many guys would get popped.
steampunk22- October 7, 2010 at 11:37 am
Geez, I hope no one posts anything critical or smarmy about this post.

Ah hell, just single me out now it will save time.

Also, LMAO at the Jump To Conclusions Mat reference. Now where the hell is my red stapler......
Biffmiester- October 7, 2010 at 11:36 am
Hey, at least the Huffington Post's article is somewhat corroborated with the Chicago Sun Times article... so that references works out. Now as for the NY Post... not knocking the specific article, but I wouldn't wipe my ass with that paper even if I had bubbleguts and the mudbutt on a sunday morning while kayaking in a gator-filled lake.

Bet $10 that J-Dog has a problem getting his press pass to the next UFC event, and that CP's stand in the next Expo is gonna be taken over by jumprope man.
munche- October 7, 2010 at 11:34 am
You might be on to something here. I'm going to make some campaign contributions, then brag to all my buddies that I have that guy in my pocket.

I donate some cash, a few weeks later I call him up...."hey, asshole. Remember me? I donated money to your campaign. Now it's time for you to make good on that. You owe me, you cocksucker. I BOUGHT YOU. I PAID FOR YOU!!!!!!"

Then Senator so and so goes down and changes the laws to get me faster internet in my city.

Because that's how it works, right?
ccman- October 7, 2010 at 11:33 am
Fair enough Smith, but you edited your original post (in fairness extended it) and i was only replying to the first 2 paragraphs. the rest was not available to respond to.
ccman- October 7, 2010 at 11:31 am
@ intercept, thats because you have never been in politics. the fine line you see is a 20 year prison sentence for a politician.

In the words of the first Muslim in Congress "my goal for my first term is to not accidentally go to prison"

See the exiting CSAC 2 years ago(questioning self on timeline) for a great example.
intercept440- October 7, 2010 at 11:25 am
come on ... for reals...?
i fail to see the parralells between a supporting a politicain , and having Clout to influence a state agency who regulates athletics...