Dana White’s Action Against Torres Tweet Latest Sign Of UFC Double-Standard; Is White A Barrier To Mainstream Recognition Of MMA?
By JOSHUA MOLINA
UFC President Dana White wants badly for the UFC to be considered on par with the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. Eventually, he wants it to surpass the popularity of these traditional sports.
But even though the UFC recently landed a major contract with Fox to air UFC programming on network TV, mainstream recognition of the UFC as a major sport remains elusive. And its arguably the fault of UFC’s owners.
In example after example, White, a small percentage owner of the world’s No. 1 MMA promotion, seems to want to be treated as a major sports executive – but he doesn’t want the accountability that goes with it. He wants attention and recognition on his own terms. He’s highly emotional, acts on this emotion and his company suffers as a result.
The latest example is his firing of ex-bantamweight champ Miguel Torres for this Tweet by Torres: “If a rape van was called a surprise van more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.”
While it’s debatable whether Torres should have lost his job over his offensive statement, what’s clear is that White maintains a double standard when it comes to off-color jokes, insensitive comments, and outright offensive language. The bigger the star, the less they get punished.
And if White says it, it seems to be OK. The majority owners of the UFC, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, seem to also turn a blind eye.
Torres’ comments came on the same day that UFC light heavyweight star Rashad Evans said this about his upcoming fight with Phil Davis: “I’m going to put those hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State.”
White said the comment was “ill-advised,” but has not disciplined Evans. So Evans’ comments that he will commit acts worse than the alleged molestion and sexual assault of underage boys doesn’t warrant action, but Torres’ Tweet does?
The difference may be that Torres is no longer a top UFC star. Evans is, and he is promoting a big Pay Per View fight. Double standard?
Or is just that White tolerates homophobic comments better than he does heterosexual hate speech?
When UFC color commentator Joe Rogan called an MMA reporter a “fag*ot” and a “c*cksucker” Rogan’s punishment? Still waiting.
Can you imagine the NFL’s Chris Collingsworth calling a sportswriter those words or anything similar? No, probably not.
Rogan also referred to Yahoo! blogger Maggie Hendricks as “c*nty.” Despite public outcry for Rogan to be reprimanded, including Norm Clarke’s Las Vegas Review-Journal column titled “UFC, don’t tolerate vile Rogan remarks,” no measures were taken against Rogan by the Fertittas or White.
Then there’s White, who embarrassed himself, the UFC and the entire sport of MMA with his comments in 2009 about longtime MMA journalist Loretta Hunt.
In one of his video blogs, White used the F-word dozens of times and called Hunt a “bitch” a “f*cking moron” and “f*cking” stupid. He also referred to the main source in a story she wrote, as a “fag*ot” and a “pussy.”
Hunt, who covered MMA for Full Contact Fighter between 2001 and 2006, now covers the sport for The Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated online and has a book deal with Medallion Press to publish biographies on MMA’s , including the two covering Randy “The Natural” Couture and “Big” John McCarthy, respectively, that have already rolled out.
The drama over Torres’ Tweet comes at a time when the Fertitta brothers and White are systematically overtaking the world of MMA. In March, the trio, through Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, purchased its main competition — Strikeforce — and has since pretty much downgraded it to second-tier MMA.
And UFC is suing the state of New York to force the legalization of mixed martial arts. The sport is banned in New York. The UFC filed the lawsuit after a bill failed in the state legislature.
It’s hard to imagine White’s schizophrenic-like leadership helping that cause. It’s possible that White will become more consistent with his disciplinary actions now that he has a seven-year, contract with Fox that is worth approximately $100 million annually to Zuffa.
But if his record and pattern of behavior the last few years is any indication, White’s mouth and double-standard of policing fighters and himself may be be a bigger barrier to mainstream acceptance than any of the mainstream MMA fans and critics that he’s so quick to insult and demean.