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Does MMA Need Dana White?

Yes. Completely. I'll tell you why in a moment, but here's a good argument for why White's behavior recently is a liability for the entire sport:

White has been great for UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. In fact, the sport of mixed martial arts literally might not even exist in the United States if it weren't for White, who saved it when legislators were calling it "human cockfighting" and threatening to make it illegal. But just as the kid who launches an internet start-up out of his parents' basement eventually needs to bring in an MBA if he really wants to turn it into a legitimate business, the sport of mixed martial arts might now need to push White aside.

I'm sympathetic to this argument, but I cannot endorse it. The fact is that Dana White's efforts to rescue and resuscitate the sport of mixed martial arts are unparalleled in many respects. He also has natural business acumen and intimate knowledge of the sport and it's players. He is still young and is uniquely situated to help the sport grow in the coming years. He's earned his spot at the top and I'd like to see what he can do with his vaunted position going forward. I say keep White around.

That being said, it's time for the gunslinger act to go. Period. It's a tired charade and at this stage in the game it's also a liability. I cannot even imagine a figure such as the NBA's David Stern acting or talking in such an unprofessional manner. In fact, it's almost the reverse situation: White's athletes generally follow the straight and narrow while White's antics cause the media firestorm.

On some level, White's candor is refreshing. There is something comforting knowing that White will honestly communicate his feelings or beliefs on a matter. Granted, whenever he talks in a public forum I'm sure there is some strategy at work. But who is any different including this writer? So I respect him for that. But there's an art to it as well, and the best communicators know how to juggle the balance. White has all the personality in the world and a tweak to the way he talks or acts would do wonders for his image. He does not need to shut up or go away; he needs to tone it down a notch.

Either through his decision or others within UFC management, White decided to be a very public figurehead for the sport and for the UFC. For a while it was tremendously beneficial and to a large extent it still is. But be careful what you ask for. People do pay attention to Dana White and not everyone is particularly pleased with him. It's time for Dana to scale back his presence. It's time to scale back a few f-bombs and slack-jawed slang. This sport is growing at an exponential pace such that what was acceptable even just a year ago is not now. We've reached that point with White and I, one of the many who is "the lowest of the low", humbly ask him to reconsider how he speaks to and in front of the public.

You've got a lot riding on your shoulders, Dana. As fans we all look to you to help usher in the next era of MMA. That's not an easy feat and none of us are in a position to tell you how to run your business. But what we can say is you're hurting yourself and your organization with the cowboy act. And as difficult as your job is, don't make it any harder by pushing others away unnecessarily. You're a big time player now. It's time to act like one.