In yesterday’s link dump, we shared a video of Dana White’s appearance on ESPN2′s “Highly Questionable” on Wednesday, where he had some harsh things to say about Sports Illustrated. To refresh your memory: Following UFC 162, SI.com published a roundtable discussion that implied that the main event may have been fixed. Watching legitimate, informed journalists debate whether or not a fight was fixed simply because the underdog won would have been cringe-worthy enough, but they took things to a whole new extreme by making it painfully obvious that two out of the three participants in the discussion didn’t even watch the fight. Needless to say, Dana White was not amused, and it showed during his segment on “Highly Questionable.”
There was absolutely no way that Sports Illustrated was going to let one of their biggest rivals trash them like that, so they immediately set out to create the perfect rebuttal. What they came up with was a phone conversation between Maggie Gray and Dana White, and words cannot describe how awkward it was to listen to.
You really have to feel bad for Maggie here. She was asked to defend what was arguably the worst piece of mainstream sports journalism this side of “The Patriots should have known Aaron Hernandez would turn out to be a murderer,” despite the fact that she wasn’t even involved in the discussion. It’s not exactly an enviable position to be in, especially when you’re against one of the most outspoken men in sports.
A quick apology and follow-up interview about the rematch between Weidman and Silva would have been a safe play, but don’t worry, that doesn’t even come close to happening. Instead, Maggie uses the most condescending tone possible while discussing the roundtable that was totally just about combat sports in general (it wasn’t), yet somehow managed to offend Dana White (maybe all that fight fixing stuff). Any remaining doubts that the upcoming interview would be a total clusterfuck are erased when Maggie concludes her opening statement with the MMA-ish non-sequitur “After sparring a few rounds – no one tapped out! -we moved on discussing the rematch between Weidman and Silva.”
Yeah, we’ll be offering play-by play for this one after the jump…
MG: *Long-winded opening rant that I won’t even try to type out that tries to justify why Weidman vs. Silva could have been fixed* …Can you explain why so many people – not just us – had these questions about that specific fight [being fixed]?
Right off the bat we’re given a question worthy of being included in our “Questions You Should Never Ask in an MMA Interview” list. Starting an interview off with such a defensive, passive-aggressive question is pretty much guaranteed to produce a hostile response from the person you’re talking to. Dana doesn’t disappoint.
DW: Not just you guys? First of all, you guys are Sports Illustrated, number one, okay? I want to know did anyone on that panel even watch that fight?
Huh, turns out that Dana White doesn’t accept “Trolls on the Internet thought the fight was fixed, so why should a legitimate news website be held to higher standards?” as a valid argument. *Writes this down for future reference*
Your move, Maggie.
MG: After hearing what you said on ESPN yesterday I have to ask you, did you watch our segment? Did you actually see what kind of conversation we had?
DW: Oh yeah, well how about this: “My first thought when I read the results on Sunday morning, yeah, that made me nervous, but I would have thought they would have fixed the Anderson Silva fight for Silva. If they fixed the fight, I thought they would have fixed it for Silva. UFC – and correct me if I”m wrong – is even less regulated than boxing, right?” WRONG! You guys are talking about a sport that you know nothing about. We’re regulated by the same exact people who regulate boxing.
Well, that backfired tremendously. Turns out that Dana White actually watched the segment he’s commenting on, so wherever you were going with the “Did you even watch our show?” question is now off the table.
But even the best interviewers make mistakes, so let’s see how she rebounds from this.
MG: We weren’t the only people who were asking you about this. After the fight the people who were in Vegas covering the fight were asking you about this.
DW: No no no no no. The guy who asked me the question, that was covering the fight, said “people on Twitter are saying” and “people on the Internet.” There’s a big difference between people on the Internet and Sports Illustrated. I would hope so at least.
MG: Well our show’s on the Internet, so we consider ourselves all part of one brand.
Honey, forget the ballpark. You’re not even in the same fucking city by addressing his comment about how there should be a difference between random people on Twitter and Sports Illustrated’s trusted analysts by saying “Sports Illustrated’s website is considered the same brand as the actual magazine.” You could have asked 1,000 different contestants from 1,000 different beauty pageants to respond to Dana’s statement, and none of them would have come up with something this tragically hilarious.
There’s blood in the water. Your move, Dana White.
DW: You know what? I was hoping you were calling to apologize, that’s what I was hoping you were calling me for.
MG: We were having a general conversation and the likelihood in combat sports…
DW: About something you know nothing about! If you don’t know anything about what you’re talking about you probably shouldn’t talk about it. That sounds like a really good idea. That’s why you’ve been getting smashed by fans and why I smacked you yesterday on ESPN. Because if you’re going to talk about something you might want to do your homework and know what you’re talking about. Or at least you might want to have at least seen the fight, so somebody on that panel would have had half a brain to say “You know what, I saw that fight. The guy was viciously knocked out. How could that be fixed?”
The conclusion of your roundtable should be that you guys should do your homework and understand exactly what it is you’re talking about. And if nobody watched the fight that day, then you should at least know the sport is regulated, at least know some general things about the sport. At least do your homework. I honestly thought you were calling to apologize because you guys were so embarrassed by how ridiculous your show was. Now as I sit here and talk to you, you’re even more ridiculous and I’ll bet you this whole interview doesn’t see the light of day.
MG: Unfortunately that’s not up to me it’ll be up to our producers...
DW: Yeah, well if he’s smart he’ll take this tape out and throw it right in the garbage, so that the world can’t hear what I’m saying to you right now.
The day that we got the cover of Sports Illustrated I walked around with it for two days to show you I was so pumped to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. What happened the other day, when you guys did that piece… I’m saying Sports Illustrated, you guys did not represent what Sports Illustrated is supposed to be about.
MG: We did not have an MMA expert on our panel that day, which is why we tried to take the conversation into a general space and make it something about the likelihood of fight fixing, and the panel came to the conclusion at the end that it was unlikely, that this did not happen, we do not think that there was anything happening in that fight. And that’s where we left it.
Translation: “We did not have an MMA expert on our panel that day, which is why we sent out a few clueless reporters to argue that the fight they didn’t watch was fixed. Why is this so upsetting to you?”
DW: My point is that some of the things that were said were totally incorrect and you don’t have to be an MMA expert to do some homework.
It’s at this point where Maggie Gray finally recognizes that the interview is going absolutely nowhere, and actually asks Dana White some questions about Weidman vs. Silva II. It’s also at this point where the interview becomes a total waste of time, since Dana already answered all of her questions on “Highly Questionable.”
But at least Sports Illustrated got to attempt to defend their honor, so…mission accomplished?