Steve Cofield reported yesterday:
"(Fedor's) not even the best heavyweight in the world," said White. "To put him on the pound-for-pound list. I think some of these guys don't even know what pound-for-pound means. It's just so disrespectful to all the other fighters it's crazy."
Fedor is 32-1 with his only loss coming on a controversial cut due an illegal strike. He doesn't deserve consideration for the pound-for-pound list? White said no and that most MMA sites have an agenda.
"Most of these goofy MMA sites, what you have to understand is, these guys are in it for the money," said White. "They get paid from all the smaller promotions. They get paid a lot of money from the smaller promotions. So they feel like they have to put some of their guys. That's the way it works. It's sick and drives me crazy.
White took issue with both Fedor and Jake Shields on the Sherdog list. The only two non-UFC fighters in the top 10. He also argued with Fitch being on the list.
"It's not a real pound-for-pound list. Either they don't know pound-for-pound is or the obvious is they're being paid."
That seems like a pretty big grenade to lob. Who knows, maybe there is some wrangling behind the scenes but most of the MMA media folks I know cover the sport for almost no monetary gain.
The full audio of White's interview with the Bill Simmons podcast is in the full entry (by way of Cofield).
Josh Gross responded via Twitter.
Zach Arnold had this to say:
Here's the deal - I get it. It's a media tweak, Rush Limbaugh-style, from the most powerful man in MMA. He gets his jollies by doing this all the time. However, the accusation made is a very loaded one and is as annoying as listening to a media personality interviewing a subject with the dreaded "well some people say [insert loaded allegation here]..." without actually naming anyone specificly.
So, Mr. White, name some names. Don't waste my time if you don't have the goods. And if the rankings online are as meaningless as you think they are, why are you wasting any time caring about them? Stop being a mark for rankings if you think they're corrupt.
Here's a constructive idea for you - if you think all these ‘mark MMA web sites' are corrupt and are producing corrupt rankings lists, why doesn't UFC produce their own rankings lists on their web site?
(One answer to that question is because it would give fighters an idea of how the promotion views their slotting in the company, thus providing some leverage at the bargaining table. Remember, I recently transcribed an interview with Eddie Alvarez where he said that rankings lists only primarily matter in the sense that it gives his manager an idea of what to ask for money-wise. Seriously.)
For my part, I have to concur with Jordan Breen that if there are payoffs being passed around for ranking non-UFC fighters, we're certainly not getting our share for the USA TODAY/SB Nation MMA Consensus Rankings. I'll send out a blanket email to all of our contributing panelists and source sites and see if any of them are on the take. We'll keep you posted as to the responses.
Please note that both Josh Gross and Jordan Breen are on our direct rankings panel and that we use Sherdog as one of our sources and formerly used the Independent World MMA Rankings that Zach Arnold contributes to until the USA TODAY print schedule began to conflict with the Independent Rankings schedule.
I should also note that we don't do pound for pound rankings because I think they're utterly irrelevant.
More importantly this interview reveals three very problematic things about the most powerful man in our sport:
- Dana White is so emotionally invested in the UFC having the best fighters that he can't rationally evaluate the standing of any fighter. It's also in his financial self-interest to downplay the rankings of free agents like Jake Shields.
- This is related to #1, but Dana White has long been obsessed with Fedor Emelianenko and he continually sabotages his own chances of signing the man who is not only the best heavyweight in the sport today, but also the greatest MMA fighter in history.
- Dana White is a bully with a long record of intimidating fighters and reporters alike and he's shown in the past that he'll flagrantly lie to the press to push his agenda. This is one of the most egregious examples yet of both bad acts.
UPDATE: I changed the headline after a third listen to Dana's actual words. He's making a completely inexcusable and egregious unproven charge, but technically not lying. My bad.