Three weeks after Dana White was caught on video slapping his wife, Endeavor, UFC, ESPN and TBS all remained silent, with the UFC President announcing himself that there won’t be any punishments or repercussions for his actions.
White then basically said he’s rich enough to not get affected by any sanctions, and claimed his absence would only hurt the UFC.
“What should the repercussions be? I take 30 days off? How does that hurt me? I told you guys when we were going through COVID, COVID could last 10 years. I could sit it out.” White said in his first public appearance since the incident. “Me leaving hurts the company, hurts my employees, hurts the fighters. It doesn’t hurt me. I could’ve left in 2016.”
Now that it’s clear that White won’t be held accountable in any kind of way, “several” former UFC employees have spoken out on the condition of anonymity. Each of them stated that they were “shocked” as they never saw White get violent, but they weren’t surprised with the inaction from Endeavor.
“Those inside knew nothing was going to happen,” one former UFC employee told A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports. “Dana is that powerful. In any other sport, a league president putting his hands on his wife would lead to immediate action. It’s sad and disgusting at the same time.”
“He’s convinced Ari that he has the secret sauce,” another former employee said. “Endeavor thinks that there’s nobody but Dana who can run UFC.”
As reported in-depth in Bloody Elbow, the UFC is Endeavor’s cash cow, carrying about 90% of the company’s “Owned Sports Properties” division that brought in $1.1 billion in the past year. The other Endeavor property responsible for about 10% of that is the Professional Bull Riders or PBR.
“In theory, Endeavor really only owns two tangible assets: UFC and PBR,” one former employee said. “You think they’d let the head of the PBR hit his wife — on video — and keep his position? Hell no. Compared to UFC, Endeavor makes nothing with PBR. It’s disappointing and sad at the same time.”
Even without suspensions or true professional repercussions, an ex-employee also noted how White wouldn’t go along even with minor punishments like anger management sessions.
“He’d never accept, let alone seek out, therapy,” the source said. “The only way he’d ever go to counseling would be if a judge ordered it.”
Front Office Sports’ sources also gave insight on White’s outlook concerning the controversial issue of low pay, with fighters shown to be getting less than 20% of the revenue—a far cry from the 50% athletes get in other major sports.
“Dana will tip a doorman of a hotel $1,000, but if anyone comes to his office and asks for a raise, that pisses him off,” one former UFC employee said. “It’s so bizarre. To Dana, money is love. It’s not seen as an instrument to buy goods or services. If you are asking for money, it means you don’t love him. It’s very primitive.”
During this whole incident, numerous public figures have spoken out about White being handled with kid gloves, and the uneven treatment compared to other sports. The list includes Senators, Hollywood actors, and sports stars, but as the ex-UFC employees alluded to, none of these were from the voices of those who actually wield power over White and his business.
About the author: Anton Tabuena is the Managing Editor for Bloody Elbow. He’s been covering MMA and combat sports since 2009, and has also fought in MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing. (full bio)