UFC 229 could have been one for the books, but instead it’s being called a dark chapter in its storied history.
A full scale brawl erupted between the fighters, then the fans, resulting in multiple arrests. If there’s a lesson anywhere, no one appears to be learning it. Conor McGregor is claiming — I guess — a moral victory. Khabib Nurmagomedov is going with the He Started It defense. Zubaira Tukhugov — the fighter who suckered Conor from behind — Instagrammed his confidence in his actions. Then there’s Dillon Danis (who Khabib attacked), who wants a Twitch stream for a potential fight with Rafael dos Anjos (he could use autocorrect, and a punctuation seminar instead).
Then there’s Dana White. When asked about whether the UFC shared some responsibility for the melee since he was all too willing to use Conor’s criminal actions in the bus attack as part of the lead-up to the fight, Dana had this to say (transcription via MMA Fighting).
“Dumbest quote I have ever heard in my life. You are an idiot whoever wrote that. This is a fight. The way that we promoted this fight, was exactly the way that this thing played out,” White said. “That’s all part of the storyline.”
That “dumbest quote” in question was from Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, who spoke to USA TODAY after the fight.
‘Part of the storyline’ is an interesting way to word it. Because if that’s the story the UFC is willing to write, it seems silly to abdicate your responsibility over how the final story is written. Dana had plenty more to say though.
“Believe me, we’ve had, almost 20 years I’ve been doing this,” White said. “We’ve had plenty of fights, where there’s tons of bad blood, and all kinds of things like this happen, and, you know, we don’t have fights after the fights. We’ve had scuffles with guys in the back, I mean, this is the fight business, and a lot of people don’t like each other.”
True, not every fight ends with a Royal Rumble. But it’s possible it didn’t have to? By giving Conor a spotlight for his criminal actions, and failing to focus how promotions are handled other than These Guys Hate Each Other, fighters have a harder time understanding where the lines are drawn, and the worst parts of UFC 229 become inevitable. That was my point from yesterday — along with the general point that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to do with these particular fighters.
Dana would call it a “stupid opinion.” Maybe, Mr. White. Or maybe it’s an opinion you can think about instead of automatically reacting to.