(“I kill a communist for fun, but for a green card, I gonna carve him up real nice.” Pic: Underhooks.com)
It took a while for Dana White and the always capable Sergio Non to really get down to business during the UFC boss’ Wednesday interview with USA Today. Both guys spent a lot of time making the obligatory small talk about UFC 129, Silva vs. Okami and which weight class Frankie Edgar should be fighting in before the actual questions came out of the quiver. Once they began in earnest, White characteristically did not shy away from giving us The Full Dana on any number of topics.
Among them, DW expresses his belief that the UFC didn’t really have any competition in the MMA marketplace, even before the acquisition of Strikeforce. Now, we’re not totally sure how that jives with his claims last month that the UFC is not a monopoly, but whatevs. Moving on … Non also becomes (as far as we know) the first “mainstream” reporter to personally ask White about his company’s denial of media credentials to several high-profile MMA reporters during last weekend’s Strikeforce event. White responds by saying those people he’s banned are “dirty, dirty, dirty” and they’ll never be credentialed until somebody pries the UFC from his cold, dead hands. Throughout it all White lists back and forth between sounding totally likable (which kind of kills us to admit, but it’s true) and sounding a little like Tony Montana from Scarface.
If we had to pick one quote to serve as a microcosm for the whole interview – which we present here admittedly totally out of context – it would be this one: “Listen, I own the fucking thing,” Dana says. “At some point, you’ve got to get over it, you know what I mean?”
Touché, sir. On the subject of “owning the fucking thing,” White tells Non that the UFC will continue to credential whoever it sees fit, regardless of the increased media scrutiny that’s grown up around the promotion’s decision not to let well known reporters like ESPN’s Josh Gross and Loretta Hunt cover the new Zuffa-owned Strikeforce. A Sports Illustrated columnist recently penned a piece calling the UFC “bush-league” due to its draconian media policies, but this is the first time (at least recently) we’ve heard White himself address the issue.
“I don’t have to credential anybody,” he says. “Credentials aren’t mandatory. Credentials are at our discretion on who we want to credential. It doesn’t stop them from covering the event at all. (Loretta Hunt) could have absolutely flown out, got a ticket to the fight and covered the event, and then gone back to the host hotel and interviewed every fighter on Earth … And same thing with Josh (Gross) or whoever else who’s part of that thing.”
On the topic of exactly why the two veteran reporters are no longer welcome, White was somewhat less forthcoming.
“Both of them have (acted unprofessionally) and have numerous times … It was back in the bush-league days and these guys did some stuff that was dirty — dirty, dirty, dirty — and very unprofessional. And they will not be credentialed in a company that I run. Period. End of story. People can sit around and cry about it or whatever …
“Believe me, if I really sit down — and maybe I’ll do it with somebody on camera sometime — and explain where these people came from, and how this beef really started, it’s actually pretty sickening. And a lot of people — if not everybody, including all the journalists — I think would absolutely 100 percent agree with me and take my side. I don’t give a shit. I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks. I don’t care. I can decide who gets a credential and who doesn’t. ESPN should be more careful about who they hire.”
First of all, let us say for the record that “Dirty, Dirty, Dirty” sounds like the greatest Motley Crue song never written. Secondly, we have to wonder, what exactly is White’s definition of being “unprofessional”? Sometimes it’s hard to tell when the sport’s official arbiter of good taste stomps around swearing like a sailor and essentially inviting the world to kiss his ass if they don’t like it. Really though, it’s the tail end of that quote — the “ESPN should be more careful about who they hire,” part – where things really start to get scary.
You don’t have to have a masters degree in journalism to know that when the people who create the news start implying they should also have some sway in who gets hired to cover the news, that’s bad. Especially when the same people are prone to breaking off borderline The-World-is-Mine-style quotes like this one:
“It’s hilarious to me that when all the media and the fans talk about stuff — when you guys talk about Strikeforce and Affliction and IFL and all these other guys that were out there,” he says. “Come on, if that’s seriously what you guys think is our fucking competition, you guys are fucking way out of the loop. Way, way, way, way out of the fucking loop. My competition is the NFL. My competition is Major League Baseball. My competition is these other networks.”