Dana White is the one who chose to headline UFC 112 with an Anderson Silva vs an obviously over-matched middleweight in Demian Maia.
Zach Arnold elaborates on why this was a huge mistake and why the stakes were so high:
Partially in Anderson Silva's defense, I will say that a fight against Maia should have not been booked in the first place. Silva was scheduled to fight Vitor Belfort, a man who I doubt Anderson would have clowned out with for five rounds like he did with Maia. Why? Belfort would likely knock out Silva if he pulled the same stunt that he pulled at UFC 112. Nonetheless, Silva is a champion and he's a professional. When you get paid the amount of money that he does, you should show up and fight.
There was a lot of pressure on UFC management for their debut event in Abu Dhabi. They're trying to establish a new market and a new fan base. They have new business partners who are powerful and rich. At a time when the company is trying to grow internationally to increase its market value worldwide, a fight like the one Anderson Silva had at UFC 112 is a killer. First impressions mean something, especially in a country where they pride themselves on becoming the Singapore of the Middle East as far as being a hub for international business is concerned.
And it wasn't just that the event itself was a fiasco, marred by bad calls and worse fights, Dana's post-fight reaction was the worst exhibition of immaturity and petulance since he went off on Loretta Hunt last year. MMA Payout said it best:
Leadership is about many things, but one in particular is setting an example. White is the sport's foremost representative and there's a certain responsibility that comes with that in the sense that sometimes he can't just say what he's thinking. Especially if he wants to be the guy that takes this sport to the next level, because where he and the Fertitta brothers want this sport to go, there's very little tolerance for the sort of profanity-laced tirades against the media or the fans that White has exhibited in the past 24 months.
Moreover, when White is visibly shaking during a post-fight press conference and ranting in post-fight interviews about Anderson Silva, it helps to induce the sort of panic amongst fans that really isn't necessary. Yes, the Silva fight sucked and the fans are disappointed, but it's not the end of the world - the message coming from the UFC needs to be one of reassurance, not panic.
Maggie Hendricks has more advice for White:
Still, White is the president of an estimated billion-dollar company, and he should know better than to take the bait. Between three events in two weeks, traveling to Abu Dhabi for 112, and watching a disrespectfully bad performance by his longest reigning champion, White is likely spent. But when he feels like that, here's a word of advice, Dana:
Don't go on Twitter.
Mike Fagan put it best when he reminded everyone that Anderson Silva's last three title defenses have all been against over-matched faux contenders in Cote, Leites and now Maia. After the first of those fights was a disaster, it should have been clear to White and Joe Silva that Anderson's future was NOT ideally to be spent in pointless defenses of his middleweight belt. He positively shone in fights against James Irvin and Forrest Griffin and 205 lbs. He's even offered to face GSP at 170lbs.
Personally I don't care what kind of jerk Anderson Silva is, I want to see him fight opponents who will test his abilities or at least command his interest. I'd love to see Silva vs GSP, Silva vs Frank Mir, Silva vs James Toney (or even Roy Jones). Michael David Smith agrees that Silva should be facing heavyweights:
So I propose that Silva's next fight should be at heavyweight.
It seems crazy for a middleweight to move all the way up to heavyweight -- especially when it's Silva, who said this week that he could actually move down and fight at welterweight. Is a guy who was just talking about fighting at 170 pounds really capable of beating opponents who weigh up to 265 pounds?
Yes, he is. Silva is capable of beating anyone.
So which heavyweight would Silva fight first? In my fantasies, he'd fight Fedor Emelianenko, but in the real world that's not going to happen. It also wouldn't be Brock Lesnar or Shane Carwin, who are going to fight each other for the heavyweight title in July, and it wouldn't be Cain Velasquez, who will get the Lesnar-Carwin winner, or Junior dos Santos, who's a friend and training partner of Silva's.
So that leaves Frank Mir as my top choice. That's a fight Silva has asked for in the past, so we know he'd be motivated, and Mir has said he'd love to do it. It would be a fascinating fight: Is Silva's lethal striking enough to beat a much bigger, stronger man like Mir? I'd be thrilled to find out.
But unfortunately, I predict that Dana White will seek to punish Silva rather than give him what he wants -- interesting fights. I agree that Anderson Silva is a petulant jerk, but as a fan, I'd much rather see Silva in a series of interesting fights against off-the-wall opponents than doing yeoman's work in gimme title defenses.
Fightline pulls some of Dana's quotes after the fight that indicate he's more interested in punishing Silva than in putting on mega-fights:
"He said the other day that he wanted to cut to 170 and fight GSP," said White during the post-fight press conference. "I don't want to see that fight now. He doesn't deserve to fight GSP.
"I'd like to say he lost his mind tonight, but this is the third time this has happened, this isn't the first time."
With three lackluster title defenses in a row, White admitted to not knowing what to do with Silva next, telling Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com, "The only thing that interests me right now is going in and having the conversation that I'm going to have with him right now. As far as him fighting again, I can't even think about it right now."
White noted that he was going to speak to Silva and then decide what to do next. He did promise that he would make it up to the fans.
"I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to pay the fans back," he stated. "I will make it up to the fans."
I do believe that Dana wants to make things up to the fans. But I am not as sure that he'll take the most fan-friendly course.