Las Vegas Review Journal columnist Ed Graney took a swipe at Dana White last week in a column entitled “UFC head White: ‘The white Don King‘”. Dana White, as it turns out, did not care for that comparison. In an interview with Steve Cofield of ESPN Radio, White referred to Graney as a “moron”, and expressed his rage at the article thusly:
“Not only did he not compare me and Don King — because he couldn’t, okay, number one — but not only did he not compare us, he didn’t even interview me. He interviewed Tito, and then called me ‘the white Don King’. I live in Las Vegas. My kids go to school in this town. I grew up here. And you get one of these moron reporters who go out and write a half-assed story, this guy’s probably never even seen a fight in his life.”
White was subsequently informed that Graney has been to fights, and he is a columnist who writes opinion pieces. White then made it clear that his opinion was that Graney’s opinion “sucks.”
There are two things we should keep in mind here: 1) columnists don’t typically get to write their own headlines, so it’s slightly unfair to take him to task for a headline that makes a claim which isn’t really supported or even argued in the article, and 2) Graney invited that headline and that baseless comparison with one very dumb line that should have been cut entirely.
The headline comes from this sentence, which appears about a third of the way into the the column:
It’s also not that long a jump to dictatorship, which is what happened with the growth of UFC under the leadership of its president, who a friend of mine fittingly described Wednesday as “the white Don King who happens to be bald.”
So, just to make sure I understand this, Dana White is ‘the white Don King’ because an unnamed “friend” of Graney’s described him that way? Is that kind of like when I went to the doctor to ask him about a “friend” of mine who I thought might have contracted Chlamydia?
Not only is that a poor way to make that comparison, it just doesn’t hold up. You can say a lot of things about Dana White and many of them will be both negative and true, but you can’t compare him to Don King. Not in any serious way, you can’t.
Don King didn’t bring boxing back from the brink of total annihilation and help build it into a successful sport, as Dana White and the Fertitta’s did with the UFC and the sport of MMA. Dana White has never served time for beating to death an employee who owed him $600, as Don King has. Neither has White faced tax evasion charges or been involved with alleged jury tampering or…you get the picture
In short, there aren’t many similarities between them at all, aside from the fact that they are both fight promoters. It’s one thing to, I don’t know, jokingly refer to an organization’s Live Events President as a white Don King in a track suit, but it’s another thing to put it in a headline about Dana White in the UFC’s hometown newspaper. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but if you do it you’ve got to at least attempt to back it up. Just like if you call him a dictator, you should support that claim as well as explain why you think a private business should be run in some other, perhaps more democratic fashion.
Graney’s column relies mainly on Tito Ortiz to make the case against White. Since White spent all last week bashing Ortiz in the press, I’m sure Tito was quick to comply. But just because you can find someone willing to make negative statements, that doesn’t necessarily make them true.
As much as we all love to criticize Dana White, we should still try to keep things in perspective. He’s not a parasite who has latched on to MMA, the way King latched on to boxing. He’s one of the main architects responsible for the success of MMA. We may not always agree with some of his practices or how he conducts himself in the media spotlight, but he’s no Don King. Not even on his worst day.