Foul-mouthed and straightforward, some find UFC President Dana White a breath of fresh air in an overly politicized sports world. However, others think he is simply obnoxious, pig-headed, and selfish. As polarizing a figure as he is, he’s an incredibly powerful figure and has the ear of US President Donald Trump.
His stance towards the current health crisis is very controversial. Most major sports leagues have shut down for the time being. But the UFC recently held three events in one week in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s become apparent that White refuses to back down and insists the show will go on despite rising deaths across the United States. He’s even found his own “Fight Island” to ensure the show goes on.
You may or may not agree with his response to the situation. But you have to admit it’s been incredibly entertaining. So today, we’re going to take a look at 20 of White’s most noteworthy quotes during this remarkable period.
White really doesn’t like the media, at least partly because he doesn’t like being criticized. After facing criticism for defying social orders and common sense, he went on the assault. He labeled the MMA media ‘wimps’ and basically tore them apart. Needless to say, this didn’t endear him to said journalists like ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
“Think about this: Go online and look at some of these people – and this isn’t a knock, this is just a fact: The weakest, wimpiest people on earth cover the biggest, baddest sport on earth,” White said. “What do you expect them to say? What do you think they’re gonna say?”
After UFC 249, White was ecstatic. Nobody got ill except for Brazilian middleweight Jacare Souza, but hush, don’t talk about him. White explained that nobody got sick during the course of the event. However, this still didn’t stop the criticism.
The UFC President said:
“It was successful in every way it could be successful. I feel great about it. More importantly, nobody is sick. Nobody is sick. Nobody has gotten sick. Hopefully, that’s the case. There’s no guarantees in life, but hopefully, that’s the case and we all go home. It was a great event. It was a great week.”
Talking about Jacare Souza, after he tested positive, there were fears UFC 249 would be canceled on the eve of the event. However, it went ahead anyway. White made a huge deal out of how their protocols worked but, to be fair, he has a point. Nobody has got sick after their events (yet).
“The bottom line is the system worked. What you don’t want to do is two days after the fight say, ‘Oh s**t ‘Jacare’ tested positive.’ So it worked. The system worked that we put in place.”
White is a tremendously polarizing figure. It’s why he’s been so successful. There’s no denying he’s very inspirational when he wants to be. However, a lot of the time this is to do with money. Worth half a billion dollars, White believes throwing money at a problem will solve it.
His quote on spending money to accomplish great things:
“One of the things I always do is I believe nothing is impossible,” White told CNN. “Everything can be done, especially in 2020. You just have to be willing to work hard enough, spend some money, and come up with solutions.”
There are times when we all make mistakes, but White isn’t known for taking the blame in those times. However, he was left with no choice after Khabib Nurmagamedov got trapped in Russia. The lightweight champion left the US because they hadn’t fully communicated their plans with him. It was a shambolic moment for the organization.
He told BT Sport:
“None of us saw coming what happened and how fast it was rapidly changing and the world was literally changing by the day. We all made some bad decisions that got him stuck in Moscow. It wasn’t just him, we all did. I take responsibility for that too.”
White is also adamant that should the situation arise where one of his athletes gets sick, he’ll be there for them. Of course, he’s counting on his team that this won’t happen, but these things are tough to control. However, he insists they’ll be taken care of.
The UFC President told ESPN:
“I told our whole roster: If you or your loved ones have any type of situations or anything wrong, call me. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you get taken care of.”
White attracted the fury of MMA journalists after accusing them of trashing his efforts to restore normality to life. Furthermore, he laid into them by essentially saying that they aren’t responsible for anybody except themselves. In sum, this didn’t please MMA media members with family.
“Listen, the media can talk as much sh*t as they want,” White said. “They don’t feed families, they don’t take care of f*cking people, they don’t have people that count on them. They don’t have people to support.
First of all, it’s no secret White has a short fuse. The UFC President has had long feuds with a number of fighters and personalities because of his massive ego. But he thinks this comes with the territory and is even reasonable. He explained this to the MMA media.
“When we’re doing what we’re doing and you’re just taking unnecessary punishment, you know I’m going to f**king snap eventually – and I do,” said White. “We worked hard. We worked hard to pull this thing off and get here.”
After Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson became an option, it was full speed ahead for the UFC. First of all, White shut down the prospect of Ferguson fighting Khabib. This match-up could end the world because it’s already been canceled five times.
The UFC boss explained why he didn’t want to wait for Khabib:
“I’m afraid of what will happen next if we try to make that fight happen again.”Tony’s ready to fight. Gaethje is one of the best in the world. This fight needs to happen. Last thing anyone needs to do is keep waiting for Tony vs. Khabib.”
The world is a crazy place right now and White is just as confused as everybody else. In one of his typically bombastic statements, he revealed that he doesn’t know what or who to believe. This is why he just plows on and makes his own rules.
White told ESPN:
“I don’t know if anybody understands this whole thing. And you know, depending on what network you’re listened to, they tell you different things, and Jesus Christ, you go on the internet — forget about it. I mean, it’s f**king crazy, right?”
Sports fans are bored because their viewing options are so few. However, it could be a long time before more options to arrive. White is optimistic about it happening sooner rather than later. Instead of attempting to play down fan expectations, he literally wants them to lick their lips in anticipation.
White told CNBC:
“I think that when testing gets to a much higher level, I’m hearing about these tabs that you can lick and it immediately tells you if you have it. I think if that sort of testing comes, we can start seeing fans at events again.”
Despite his desire to host as many events as possible during the health crisis, White is still pragmatic. He doesn’t want his cash cow Conor McGregor to fight right now because it would mean losing out on a massive gate. So it’s okay for some fighters to risk their health, but not “The Notorious” cash cow right now.
“He doesn’t like the idea of fighting without a crowd either, but he wants to fight, said White. “You know, so, I don’t know. We’ll have to see how this thing plays out. You do a Conor McGregor fight in the right place, you can do an $18 million gate.”
One of the most noteworthy aspects of White’s behavior in the early days of this crisis was his refusal to back down. He was belligerent from the beginning. For example, he guaranteed Nurmagamedov would fight Ferguson. The fight has fallen apart five times but has gained near-mythical status in the sport.
Ironically, this fight won’t happen now after Justin Gaethje replaced Khabib and beat Ferguson. Before that, White said:
“The fans are all freaking out about that. Do not worry, Khabib vs. Tony will happen. Unless there’s a total shutdown of the country where people can’t leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen.”
UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is also an active firefighter in his native Cleveland, Ohio. He says that his role as a first responder in the current crisis is more important than fighting. Needless to say, White disagrees with this because he likes making money. To sum up, he wants Miocic to defend his title against Daniel Cormier.
After UFC 249, White shut down Miocic’s claims. He told MMA Junkie:
“This whole crew trained, we have two more groups of fighters coming in this week that trained and got ready. It’s the right thing to do.”
Throughout all of this, White has cut a wounded figure because he wants sympathy for his efforts. In short, he is acting like he’s making a huge sacrifice by trying to put on live sports events in difficult times. But it’s not like he stands to make a lot of money from all of this. Oh, wait, yes he does.
But he still claims it’s not. motivating factor even though it is for his bosses at Endeavor. White told CNN:
“I could stay home right now. I could be in my swimming pool, hanging out, playing with my kids at home. I’m not, I’m out here trying to figure this thing out. I’m making sure that every one of my employees and their families are taken care of. My fighters and their families are taken care of. And we’re spending a lot of money to do it.”
White argues that the UFC is ahead of the curve because of its reliance on top-notch health professionals. After all, this is a business that profits from human beings hurting each other for money. They need to have the best medical advice available all the time.
“We sat down with our doctors and we said, ‘how do we figure this out?’ White told CNBC. “Obviously, number one is, you get rid of the crowd. Number two is, you cut the staff that run the event more than half. And we make sure that these athletes are healthy. Obviously, now we have to make sure that everyone around them is healthy, too.”
With his trademark jeans and t-shirt, White has an everyman quality. This is part of what endears him to fight fans. Then he made an impassioned defense of UFC event preparations despite the ongoing health emergency. In short, he likes being alive.
White told CNN Sport:
“Listen, we have families too. I have a family, I don’t want to hurt my family. I don’t want to die. This isn’t just some crazy, this is a well thought out plan. We’ve had very, very smart people, doctors, and people that have been involved with the UFC for a very long time working on this thing non-stop since it started.”
After veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum had a change of heart about White’s method he was even interested in collaborating with the UFC. However, White point-blank refused to allow Arum the use of the UFC’s private facility. In short, he bluntly told the 88-year-old where to go.
White made his feelings very clear. He said:
“If Bob Arum wanted the plan that we put together to pull off this event, we would absolutely give it to them. If he wants to use the APEX, I’d tell him to go f**k himself. But we’ll give them the 30-page plan”
Like his friend President Donald Trump, White likes to deflect attention to the media. After the New York Times wrote a story about the UFC’s lax health precautions, he came right back at them with a foul-mouthed rant. In short, White accused them of exaggerating the story for clicks.
“F**k that guy,” said White. “F**k that guy. You know what happened with that guy? That guy who’s never covered the sport was writing a story about Endeavor and then the UFC was one of the Endeavor, you know. And what happened when this guy and this paper covered the UFC – when they’ve never covered it before? What do you think happened?”
By far the most shocking White moment of the past few months was his ‘Fight Island’ announcement. In short, he went full supervillain as he announced his intention to bypass US state laws and hold international events on a private island. To sum up, the audacity of it is very ridiculous to some.
“I have a private island that I’ve secured. We’re getting the infrastructure put in now, so I’m going to start doing the international fights, too, with the international fighters. I’m not going to be able to get the international fighters, all of them into the US, so I have a private island.