In an admirable move Sports Illustrated looked to confront their most recent and harshest current critic, Dana White, head on over his dislike of a recent round table discussion on the possibility that UFC 162 was fixed. SI did give Dana his say, but the conversation more or less devolved into bickering over who watched who's product and whether or not SI's panel was generally discussing fight fixing or the UFC 162 main event specifically.
Maggie: Last Monday on an SI Now panel we discussed the shocking upset in the UFC title fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. As we often do on SI Now, and based on the panelists we had that day, the panel focused on a broader conversation than Just MMA and we discussed the possibility of fight fixing in combat sports in general. Now one panelist did mistakenly say that boxing was more regulated than MMA, but in the end all the panelists agreed that the particular fight in question was not fixed. Regardless, UFC president Dana White who has a well earned reputation for throwing verbal bombs of his own took public issue with some of the remarks on this program. We invited Dana on to discuss the issue, giving him a platform to share his concerns deirectly to us and true to form he pulled no punches. After sparring a few rounds, no one tapped out, we moved on discussing the rematch between weidman and silva.
Dana: Not just you guys, first of all you guys are sports illustrated no. 1, OK I want to know did anyone on that panel even watch that fight?
Maggie: After hearing what you said on ESPN yesterday I have to ask you, did you watch our segment? Did you actually see what kind of conversation we had?
Dana: You guys are talking about a sport that you know nothing about. We're regulated by the same exact people who regulate boxing.
Maggie: We weren't the only people who were asking you about this. After the fight the people who were in Vegas covering the fight were asking you about this.
Dana: Nonononono, the guy who asked me the question, that was covering the fight said, "people on twitter are saying" and "people on the internet." There's a big difference between people on the internet and Sports Illustrated. I would hope so at least.
Maggie: Well our shows on the internet, so we consider ourselves all part of one brand.
Dana: You know what. I was hoping you were calling to apologize, that's what I was hoping you were calling me for.
Maggie: We were having a general conversation and the likelihood in combat sports.
Dana: About something you know nothing about. If you don't know anything about what you're talking about you probably shouldn't talk about it. That sounds like a really good idea. That's why you've been getting smashed by fans and why I smacked you yesterday on ESPN. Because if you're going to talk about something you might want to do your homework and know what you're talking about. Or at least you might want to have at least seen the fight, so somebody on that panel would have had a half a brain to say "you know what, I saw that fight. The guy was viciously knocked out. How could that be fixed?"
The conclusion of your round table should be that you guys should do your homework and understand exactly what it is you're talking about. And if nobody watched the fight that day, then you should at least know the sport is regulated, at least know some general things about the sport. At least do your homework. I honestly thought you were calling to apologize because you guys were so embarrassed by how ridiculous your show was. Now that I talk to you, you're even more ridiculous and I'll bet you this whole interview doesn't see the light of day.
Maggie: Unfortunately that's not up to me it'll be up to our producers.
Dana: Yeah, well if he's smart he'll take this tape out and throw it right in the garbage, so that the world can't hear what I'm saying to you right now. The day that we got the cover of Sports Illustrated I walked around with it for two days, to show you I was so pumped to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. What happened the other day, when you guys did that piece... I'm saying Sports Illustrated, you guys did not represent what Sports Illustrated is supposed to be about.
Maggie: We did not have an MMA expert on our panel that day, which is why we tried to take the conversation into a general space and make it something about the likely hood of fight fixing. And the panel came to the conclusion at the end that it was unlikely, that this did not happen, we do not think that there was anything happening in that fight. And that's where we left it.
Dana: My point is that some of the things that were said were totally incorrect and you don't have to be an MMA expert to do some homework.
Watching this, I still don't feel quite right about the initial SI piece. Most specifically Gray's insistence that the SI roundtable was a general discussion that came to a specific conclusion. Ted Keith was the only panel member to specifically make it clear that he felt that a fixed fight was especially unlikely. And while there was a more general discussion as to why boxing might still have fixed fights, that was mostly to serve as a reference point to why the UFC might have fixed fights. It was done because nobody on the panel knew anything about the UFC or what kind of internal structure there was to MMA as a sport. Ultimately it's nice that they gave Dana the time to bring his grievances to them, but it still boils down to an attempt to defend something so utterly baseless in nature that it defies any realistic expectation of defense.