Dana White took a chance on Jake Hadley and signed him to the UFC on Tuesday night, even though the Cage Warriors flyweight champion broke a set of rules the UFC president follows when adding a fighter to the roster.
Hadley defeated Mitch Raposo via a second-round rear-naked choke on the most recent episode of Dana White’s Contender Series. The performance was impressive, but there was no guarantee that ‘White Kong’ had earned a UFC contract, especially since he missed weight for the fight on Monday afternoon. The UFC brass has passed on signing fighters in a similar predicament before. However, Hadley became an exception.
White decided to award the undefeated fighter a contract, to the chagrin of UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard. White went on to explain his decision during the post-fight press conference.
“When I left the back room, my instructions were to not sign this guy,” said White. “According to Hunter [Campbell], Sean and Mick stormed out of the room when I did and took off tonight, so they’re not happy about it.
“I just have a gut feeling that this kid has something special and I broke all my own rules and didn’t listen to what they said,” continued White. “Hopefully I’m right on this and this kid doesn’t make a d—khead out of me.”
White then provided more context to a comment he made earlier about Hadley and his unprofessional behavior towards staff during the week. He told Laura Sanko that there were a lot of behind-the-scenes issues with Hadley but believes he could address those.
White also revealed that he and Hadley had a “man-to-man talk” immediately after the fight about respecting the UFC staff moving forward.
“He wasn’t very friendly,” said White. “He’s not a very popular guy around here this week. He seemed shocked when I told him that. I said, ‘Come on. You gotta know.’ I just saw him out in the hallway and I said, ‘Listen, don’t worry about it. Yesterday was yesterday. Let’s focus on tomorrow. So let’s make this a great relationship from here on out and let’s do great things together.’ Hopefully that’s the case.”
During his interview with the aforementioned Sanko, an emotional Hadley apologized for any harm caused and assumed that perhaps a difference in the sense of humor between the U.S. and the U.K. could have been the reason some felt disrespected. White disagreed with that theory and pointed to other U.K. talent in the UFC who have had none of the problems Hadley did.
“So everybody this week thought he was an a—hole because there’s a discrepancy between the sense of humor? We’ve got lots of guys from the U.K. here and that doesn’t happen a lot, although [Michael] Bisping. Bisping’s right up there, too. But now the thing is with Bisping is he’s part of the family. He’s been here for so long. People know what they’re getting from Mike.”
White stood by his decision and said he hoped it would be worth going through all the trouble for once Hadley fights again.
“I think he’s special, broke all my own rules, pissed off the boys, so we’ll see if I’m right or wrong.”