Ha! Got you fuckers with the title, didn’t I? *High fives Kid Nate
I’m moonlighting here for a bit because even though the site I write for, Kelvin Hunt’s freaking fantastic MMAForReal.com, is a baller website we don’t see nearly as much controversy as Bloody Elbow. I’m familiar with the turf here and I’m more than willing to piss in your Cheerios because it ain’t my website.
Yesterday Luke Thomas posted his thoughts on Dana White blatantly lying to the media about Rich Franklin replacing Tito Ortiz on The Ultimate Fighter. I whole-heartedly agree with Luke when he says such action “…undermines and erodes the foundation of honesty that guides the relationship between media and organization.”
A lot of people commented on that post asking, why care? I’ll tell you why I care. Being lied to sucks in general, but as a journalist it undercuts your ability to do your job. Let me share an anecdote.
Three years ago I got a paid internship with a medium-sized newspaper. This wasn’t me filing papers and making coffee; I covered stories alongside AP and CNN reporters, had front page lead stories, and even interviewed the Reverend Joseph Lowry, the Civil Rights leader who you might remember as the “Let yellow be mellow” guy who gave the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration. I didn’t fuck around.
One day I get a note about the annual Republican fundraiser for the year held by the County Board of Republicans. I sent an email to the chairman to get some info that I could run in a community brief. About two weeks out from the fundraiser he emails me back, saying our governor, Sonny Perdue, would be speaking at the fundraiser. This is a big story for the county and would merit more than just a community brief, so I set aside an entire day to stand in sweltering heat with wealthy old people talking bullshit politics. Guess what? The governor was never going to be there and everyone who received the invitations to the event (sent to registered Republicans two days after the chairman emailed me) never had reason to believe he would. I was used in order to up the press coverage of the event.
Should I have checked with the governor’s office? Of course, but I was 17 and naïve. It fucking sucks being lied to when your job, your job, is to tell the truth. After that situation I became the Keith Olbermann of Walton County with my Op-Eds over the next three months; it was the only retaliation I had.
Dana White feels he can use this media however he wants to because they desperately need him more than he needs them. And that’s true to a certain extent. But what happens if MMA gets to the point when a title fight is the lead story on SportsCenter? That shit won’t fly. And if he tries it, you can be damn sure ESPN will back up their reporters just like when Tom Rinaldi gets the scoop on a locker room brawl. It will hurt MMA, because the UFC is MMA and Dana White has positioned himself as the UFC. Other sports leagues are not comparable because the UFC is not a league of separate entities with a commissioner. The UFC is a company with a very public face—Dana White.
And as fans, why are you not outraged? I’ve heard the argument, “I just want to watch fights… I don’t really care about what happens behind the scenes.” All I can say is I bet your feet feel really good in those sneakers made by a four-year-old in a Thailand sweatshop.
For a guy who supposedly puts most of his stock into fan opinion, he sure does shit on that investment when he says, “The people who felt they’ve been lied to, get over it.” Sure, he likely wanted this pointed most toward the media, but at this point the MMA media is primarily fans, probably some of the first fans of the sport and some of the most dedicated. But he also lied directly to the legions that are pigs at his trough over his personal Twitter account. You may not care now, but you sure as hell will when he realizes he can keep lying and you’ll keep eating from his hand.
It’s obvious Dana White didn’t go to Wharton School of Business. That’s primarily the reason so many people relate to him and adore him; he’s one of us, but an authority figure in a business we love. Tact, however, is surely something that he never learned in any manner of education. When a simple “No comment”, or from him “What the fuck does Sherdog know?” can suffice, there’s no need to manufacture a narrative.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The same fans that are so endeared to Dana White now will be severely burned once they realize never questioning his unsavory tactics has created an absolute monster of the Vincent Kennedy McMahon sort.
And yeah, the McMahon reference is here just to piss people off.