Shortly after his death, the UFC put up a brief tribute to George Floyd during the broadcast of their UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs Burns event. In the days after, protests grew exponentially. All 50 US states each saw people march and rally against systemic racism and police brutality, with countless other countries all over the world following suit.
Fighters and athletes from various sports have since marched and shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Other sports leagues and teams have issued official statements in support of the protestors, the minorities, and their cause, including the NFL, which has been criticized in the past for the way they’ve handled this issue.
While fighters like Aljamain Sterling and Devin Clark individually tried to make their voices heard during their fights, Saturday’s UFC 250 broadcast ended without any mention of it. This led to the UFC President being asked multiple times if the promotion plans on releasing an official statement, like many other sports organizations have done.
White, who has been a proud ally of Donald Trump, dodged the topic during the UFC 250 post-fight press conference.
Here’s a transcript of the back and forth:
Reporter: “Tonight, Devin Clark took a knee before his fight with [Alonzo] Menifield, whose father was killed by the LAPD. Earlier this week we had the NFL issue a statement about the protests, and it kind of ties back together because that’s where the kneeling started. What was your feeling watching the other leagues respond to the protests around the country and the world? And in light of some of your fighters speaking up, is the UFC prepared to make a statement or have you talked about it at all?
White: “I don’t understand what you’re asking.”
Reporter: “Yeah, so the NFL....”
White: “I haven’t seen anything that they’ve done. I haven’t watched any of the other leagues. I don’t look at what everybody else is doing. I do what we do. Our guys were — Israel Adesanya was very involved in his country, Jon Jones was out there doing his thing, other African-American fighters for the UFC called me and asked me for advice. I gave them the best advice that I could give them.
“I don’t know if you’re asking me about social media and stuff like that, but like I said, I would never tell — everybody is dealing with all of this madness going on in the world right now in different ways. Everybody’s gonna handle it differently. I would never try to tell somebody how to express themselves — whether it’s fear, anger, whatever it might be. The beautiful thing about America is everybody can and however they want to, so I would never do that.”
Reporter: “My question wasn’t if you were watching what the athletes were saying. My question is was the UFC, were you all considering making a statement as an organization?”
Dana White: About what?
Reporter: “About the protests, or about the reason why the athletes are kneeling in other organizations.”
White: “I don’t even know how to answer that question.”
Reporter: “So that’s a no.”
While the UFC’s official channels have been silent about the issue, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya gave an impassioned speech in New Zealand, while Leon Edwards, Jimi Manuwa, and Darren Stewart went to separate Black Lives Matter marches in the UK. Several other fighters also individually took to social media to show their support.