(If you loved him, Anderson, you’d want him to be happy. And if you wanted him to be happy, you’d do whatever he tells you to at all times. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
Sooner or later UFC fighters are going to figure out that the best way to get a fight with a specific opponent is to publicly declare that they will not, under any circumstances, fight that person. Not only will Dana White be unable to resist trying to make you fight that person, he’ll also probably end up paying you a little extra to do it. For example, look at how he refuses to give up on the idea of pitting Anderson Silva against his best buddy, Lyoto Machida.
Even though Silva says he won’t do it, ever, no matter what, White still talks as if it’s simply a matter of him playing Emperor and forcing them into the arena together:
"It has nothing to do with friendship," White said. "It’s about seeing who’s the best. If Anderson continues to take out 205-ers, I’ll make that fight [vs. Machida]."
First of all, what does he mean by "make that fight"? As in, he’ll put ‘Anderson Silva vs. Lyoto Machida’ on a fight poster and that’ll be that, even if neither of them actually signs the bout agreement? This is the same rhetoric we used to hear in regards to a possible Rashad Evans vs. Keith Jardine fight. The more they said they wouldn’t do it, the more White seemed to think it was absolutely necessary to make them do it.
On one hand, DW has a point. If you’re in this business to be the best, you’d better be willing to knee your mother in the face if she gets in your way. But that ignores some of the realities of the fight game. Pitting two teammates against each other, as White wanted to do with Evans and Jardine, would create an awkward situation in the gym. They obviously can’t train together like they normally would, and their coaches either have to take a side or else stay completely away from both guys.
But there’s also the issue of autonomy. Sure, Dana White is the boss, but hasn’t the best fighter in the organization earned the right to say ‘no’ sometimes? It’s not as if he’s asking for a procession of tomato cans. In fact, whether they’ve put him against an uninteresting middleweight, or some dude to help them counter-program a rival on late notice, or a former light heavyweight champ – Silva has been pretty good about doing what the UFC wants.
Now he says there’s one guy he won’t fight. Because they’re friends. And friends don’t fight each other unless they’re very drunk or very angry, possibly both. Can’t we just leave it at that?