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If I Did It: The UFC denies sales rumors, Dana going after Ariel (still), Fedor fading

Welcome to IF I DID IT where we analyze and solve PR kerfuffles from the world of MMA and beyond. This week we look at Dana White's continuation of the war of words against Ariel Helwani, the UFC's response to reports Zuffa has sold the promotion and much much more.

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Alexei Auld is back with a brand new book available 7 Secret Sources of Inspiration: A Snappy Guide for Creative Procrastinators to grill Eugene S. Robinson (who's pushing a GoFundMe to pay for the new Oxbow album) and myself with some PR stumpers from the world of combat sports.

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Today's puzzlers include:

  • At 0:42 - You are UFC honcho Dana White. You reinstated Ariel Helwani's press credentials, but told the world that it ain't over by blasting him on the UFC Unfiltered podcast for revealing the Brock Lesnar UFC 200 news. "It left a whole lot of people pointing the finger at each other. Almost blew up a relationship and created a lot of bad blood behind the scenes and he didn't care. It was all about him...When you go that way with me, I'm hard to get back." We can't take a page from the BEEF SQUASHING play book and call Minister Farrakhan to mediate, given obvious cultural and religious...difficulties. So who you gonna call to stop the verbal violence, since we're all in the same gang?
  • At 12:06 - You are the UFC. On Tuesday, MMA Junkie obtained an internal email allegedly sent to all your employees which stated, "A report today by indicating that the company has been sold is false. This follows other false speculation in the press recently...We have instructed our attorneys to investigate and take all appropriate legal actions against the parties publishing and contributing to these false stories." Explain the PR behind the email.
  • At 19:50 - You plan to be the new owner of the UFC. What are your PR plans for handling outstanding issues ranging from the Ali Act, fighter pay, and sponsorship?
  • At 29:15 - You're MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko. After you won a questionable split decision victory over Fabio Maldonado last weekend, Bloody Elbow's Karim Zidan revealed three of the judges were selected by the Union of Russian MMA which lists you as the president. What PR moves do you make in wake of this news?
  • At 33:15 - You're Ayesha Curry, wife of current two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry. You tweeted and deleted a claim that the NBA was rigged for rating and money. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith put you on blast, "When you're out there tweeting and saying the things that you are saying, you are putting your husband in a precarious position." As pointed out by If I Did It viewer Omar, "The Dolphins got rid of Brent Grimes because they couldn't stand his wife." Since your brand is all about your family, do you need to make amends or should Steph pull a 21st Tammy Wynette and stand by his (wo)man?
  • At 39:13 - You're the Australian Football League. According to Buzzfeed, on Triple M's The Rub, two of your club presidents joked about drowning journalist Caroline Wilson. Your response? Worsening the situation by tweeting that you will not tolerate "unacceptable levels of violence against women" which seems to suggest you will tolerate ‘acceptable' levels of violence against women. How do you mansplain your way out of this kerfuffle?
  • At 48:43 - You're American Airlines. Reports surfaced that a child was molested for at least thirty minutes during one of your flights despite their parent paying additional fees for a service you offered in exchange for protecting minors. Can you restore your reputation by improving the program or abandoning it?
  • At 55:47 - You're Stanford University. InTouch reported that your school officials squashed plans of Stanford Swim team members to submit letters to Judge Aaron Persky about their negative experiences with sex offender and teammate Brock Turner. Your Associate Vice President for University Communications responded with a statement that "As private individuals, our students can say what they wish to whom they wish". Despite this, the InTouch insider insists, "The team has been instructed to not discuss Brock Turner publicly or to the media; however, the entire team completely supports the victim and wishes that Brock had gotten a much harsher sentence." Since the age old PR response to campus rape--relying upon victims to drop out and suffer silently--is no longer a viable solution, how are you changing your PR playbook?
  • At 1:01:36 - TEACHABLE MOMENT: You're Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV. You fired 21 time Emmy Award winning anchorwoman Wendy Bell in March for a Facebook post that ‘offended many viewers' and ‘violated (your) company's journalism and ethics standard'. On Monday, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that Bell filed a lawsuit against you because she's white. Her attorney told the Gazette that Bell is seeking back pay, attorney fees, punitive damages, and her old job back and that your owner Hearst Stations "be permanently enjoined from discriminating or retaliating against her." Plus, this tidbit: her job prospects are "complicated because WTAE management told her that it would enforce a noncompete clause in her contract through March 30, 2017." Is it better PR to make a deal or have your day in court?


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