By Jared Jones
I know the title of this article has likely already branded me as a “UFC hater” in many of your eyes and invalidated whatever points of merit I may make, but if the MMA media is so insistent on clinging to Dana White’s every word, there needs to be a system of checks and balances in order here.
Following last weekend’s lackluster-at-best UFC 169, the UFC President was understandably frustrated. With a “10-decision, record-breaking catastrophe” of a card topped off by a controversial title fight in the books, it would be hard to fault White for dismissing a few questions that night in the fear of saying something stupid or potentially damaging about one of his employees, especially given how poorly his burial of Georges St. Pierre following UFC 167 was received.
If only White had the impulse control.
Because rather than hang back and let some of the fighters themselves explain why the fights were so underwhelming, White decided to shame two of the fighters on the card LEAST deserving of criticism: Alistair Overeem and Jose Aldo.
First, he told FS1 that Overeem had “a crappy performance” in what was “not a great night for Alistair.” Alistair Overeem, who had just outworked, outgrappled, and outstruck a former UFC champion 139 to 5, had a “crappy performance.” One-hundred thirty-nine to five.
Of course Overeem’s callout of Brock Lesnar was stupid and pointless. Of course it was. But White’s criticism of Overeem’s damn near flawless victory was far more unwarranted than some harmless little threat. It was lunacy.
Let us not forget that these comments came just weeks after White praised Bobby Voelker‘s ability to continuously walk face first into punches as “trying to win.” I respect Voelker as much as the next guy, but when did the ability to lose triumphantly become more worthy of praise than the ability to win…triumphantly? Dominantly? Proficiently? If White thought Overeem’s performance was “crappy,” then he must have been asleep during a few of St. Pierre and Ben Henderson‘s title defenses to say the least.
Overeem had dropped his past two fights by KO and was potentially fighting for his job against an incredibly dangerous opponent; a former champ. He put said former champ’s face through a meat grinder without barely breaking a sweat, and he’s boring now? Is anyone seeing the disconnect here?
In the final seconds of his fight with Frank Mir, you could practically see the moment when Overeem decided to spare the former champ (a fact that bears repeating) from his second consecutive KO loss. Overeem should be lauded for his restraint and respect for a man who, like himself, has suffered far too many concussions in his career, not attacked for his ability to gameplan. Who in the hell buries their fighters like this, even in victory?
Of course, once you hear White’s criticism of Jose Aldo, you should have a pretty clear understanding as to where his head is at these days (via ESPN):
The thing about Jose Aldo that drives me crazy is the kid has all the talent in the world. He’s explosive, fast. He can do anything but he just lays back and doesn’t let anything go.
When you talk about being the pound-for-pound best in the world, you can’t go five rounds with guys that it looks like you can defeat them in the second round. That’s what Aldo has a habit of doing.
Look, I get that Aldo hasn’t flying-kneed anyones face off lately (and did seem a bit hesitant in his fight with Lamas. A bit.) but “doesn’t let anything go? THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.
Aldo’s won 2 out of his past 4 fights by TKO for Christ’s sake. He’s consistently fought the elite of the division. Is White forgetting that Aldo and Chan Sung Jung broke each other to shit by the end of their fight? Or that he is the only man to ever defeat, let alone finish Chad Mendes (in spectacular fashion, I might add)? Aldo couldn’t finish Edgar, but who the hell can? The same goes for KenFlo to a lesser degree. And Lamas could only last two rounds with Aldo? LET’S SEE YOU EAT THAT MANY LEG KICKS WITHOUT EVEN FLINCHING, ASSHOLE.
The most infuriating thing about all of this is that White has been throwing around “pound for pound” term so much lately that it has all but lost the mostly pointless meaning it had in the first place. Basically, he’s done to “pound for pound” what Joe Rogan has done to the phrase “THIS GUY IS A BEAST” (which he literally used to describe Aldo and Lamas, back-to-back, at UFC 169). He thinks that he can just assign this ridiculous status to anyone he wants, whenever he wants, and people will care what his self-serving opinion on the matter is and purchase accordingly. The MMA media will, that’s for sure.
What I’m saying is, there are moments when White seems like the most level-headed, down to earth president of a billion dollar corporation you’d ever meet, and there are moments when he sounds like a megalomaniac with the candor of a wilfully dense message board troll. I’ll let you decide which category his recent statements fall into.
Regardless of how White felt about the fights that went down last weekend, or GSP’s decision to step away from the sport, or Randy Couture, etc., he needs to first realize that his fighters have sacrificed blood, sweat and years off their lives for him. They are warriors who have made him who he is today, and vice versa, and they need to be treated with the proper respect. I know it sounds hypocritical coming from your #1 source for fighter bashing and UFC h8errade, but even us cynics can recognize when a criticism is unnecessary. At a certain point, people are going to realize that the common denominator between the UFC and all of its bitter, estranged former employees is White himself, and it’s because of shit like this.
“The problem I have with all this is that my gym and her training partner got put on blast with no facts,” said Pena’s coach, Rick Little, when dealing with the backlash of White’s comments. But we’re sure The Baldfather felt it necessary to publicly bash someone (actually, an entire camp) before getting his facts straight regarding an incident he was hundreds of miles away from when it happened. It’s what they call Spike Lee-ing in the film industry.