Dana White was caught on camera slapping his wife, and while the UFC President offered “no excuses” for this behavior, several fighters and even media alike still made ones for him. A lot of mainstream media outlets have either remained silent, or been particularly soft on White when discussing the issue.
This sort of thing would never be tolerated in other mainstream sports, and it’s exactly what NBA star and combat sports fan Kyle Kuzma pointed out on social media.
Kuzma, a one-time NBA champion with the Lakers and current top scorer for the Washington Wizards, took shots at ESPN and the general sports media for how they’ve handled White’s situation.
“Question to sports media why do you guys pick and choose when you blast ppl.. Dana white???? Hmmm,” Kuzma wrote on twitter.
“ESPN’s coverage on this Dana White situation is flat out embarrassing!!!!,” he followed up.
Question to sports media why do you guys pick and choose when you blast ppl.. Dana white???? Hmmm— kuz (@kylekuzma) January 7, 2023
.@ESPN’s coverage on this Dana White situation is flat out embarrassing!!!!— kuz (@kylekuzma) January 7, 2023
ESPN executives, who have a lucrative multi-year partnership with the UFC, have been largely silent about White hitting his wife. ESPN previously issued a statement to Bloody Elbow directing comment to the UFC, and seemingly washing their hands of the situation by saying they simply handle “distribution” for the MMA leader.
It’s not surprising to see an NBA star speak out against the uneven coverage, as compared to how basketball stars are treated, White has been clearly handled with kid gloves.
NBA controversies typically dominate headlines for long stretches, with calls for owners, coaches and players to get cut or fired being a norm in the media cycle.
When NBA star Kyrie Irving tweeted a link to a film based on an antisemitic book, it aptly garnered nationwide attention for months, costing him sponsors and getting him suspended without pay. His team called him “unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets,” and media naturally called him worse after promoting dangerous and terrible beliefs associated with that book. Charlotte Hornets’ Miles Bridges is unsurprisingly still without a job after his domestic violence case, with teams not wanting to be associated with the player.
Team owners like Donald Sterling and Robert Sarver were both fined millions, then forced to vacate their position and sell their shares with their NBA teams after being caught saying controversial and racist comments.
Stephen A. Smith routinely trashes basketball players and makes personal attacks on their character for the most mundane things, like switching teams or taking (or not taking) bad shots. However, when dealing with the UFC’s most recent controversy, he instead just went to ESPN to say he loves and supports Dana White and only wishes him the best after this incident.
Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole somehow felt the need to list “all the good White has done in this world” when talking about how the UFC President should only briefly take time away from the spotlight. TMZ also continued their UFC friendly coverage and seemingly tried to give the UFC President an out and an excuse after White granted them the one interview about the topic.
Sports media aren’t the only ones deserving of criticism, as massive companies where White holds influence and lucrative partnerships with have all been lacking in any proper response as well.
Even if they don’t plan on any taking action against White, it seems easy enough for organizations like Endeavor, UFC, ESPN and TBS to do the absolute bare minimum by condemning domestic violence and any violence towards women. Instead, they’re content to remain silent, seemingly hoping people just forget as they’re still all continuing as scheduled as if nothing happened.
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)