By Matt Saccaro
Even though the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Jimi Manuwa, Michael Johnson, and Melvin Guillard all met in the cage in a Fight Pass card in London today, the biggest fight of the weekend wasn’t contested in a cage. It happened over twitter.
MMA Fighting’s Luke Thomas tweeted the following yesterday:
A reasonable sentiment, especially in an age where the UFC is going to put on two events in the same day, though the tweet was not specifically directed at the UFC. It was tweeted two minutes after a jape at Bellator’s expense. Dana White ignored such nuances. He took the tweet personally, and responded with 140-character artillery fire this morning:
Hilariously, Dana White didn’t know Luke Thomas—one of the most well-known figures in the MMA media—was a media member. Once White found out how accomplished Thomas was, specifically that he was on an episode of UFC Countdown, White brought the hammer down. But there’s something more concerning about White’s behavior. He doesn’t care about legitimate criticism that’s offered politely and eloquently. White’s intransigence in the face of disagreement is nothing new, however, but it’s starting to wear thin; he’s been more churlish than usual lately. He went mental when the always-reasonable Georges St-Pierre announced his retirement. More recently, he behaved questionably at a media luncheon, and buried Alistair Overeem and Jose Aldo after fantastic performances.
“Dana is gonna Dana” is no longer a valid excuse for such behavior. Lorenzo Fertitta has proven that you can respond to criticism courteously while maintaining the UFC’s “as real as it gets” image. Dana White needs to do the same or be yanked off stage with a Vaudeville hook. We understand he’s used to hearing whatever he wants from the media, but acting in a hyper-emotional, immature manner when writers offer their take on issues in the sport (which is their job) is unacceptable. More unacceptable than that is intentionally telling fans not to watch your product and disregarding their opinions, as White did on twitter this morning too.
The UFC’s product is clearly diminishing in value. Fans are getting restless. While White is to be commended for his accessibility on social media, hurling insults that read like they were written by a 14-year-old as well as telling fans to not watch the UFC’s product is harmful. Instructing potential customers to not buy what you’re selling is a terrible practice, but to Dana White it’s business as usual. In case you don’t understand why that’s a bad idea, check out this exchange between MMA firebrand Front Row Brian and famed MMA historian Jonathan Snowden. Telling fans to ignore your product has disastrous results. Words of apathy become acts of apathy. There are fights on tonight? Meh, who cares? Instead of fostering behavior like that, Dana White should be trying to demolish it root and stem. But White will do no such thing. If you don’t watch every single card, and shell out more cash than any other sports fan, your’e not a real fan, dummy!
By the way, here are the complete results for UFC Fight Night 37, a card some of you might not been real enough fans for:
Alexander Gustafsson def. Jimi Manuwa via TKO (knee, punches) – Round 2, 1:18
Michael Johnson def. Melvin Guillard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Brad Pickett def. Neil Seery via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Gunnar Nelson def. Omari Akhmedov via submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 4:36
Ilir Latifi def. Cyrille Diabate via submission (neck crank) – Round 1, 3:02
Luke Barnatt def. Mats Nilsson via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:24
Claudio Henrique da Silva def. Brad Scott via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Igor Araujo def. Danny Mitchell via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Louis Gaudinot def. Phil Harris via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 1:13