Oh, Dana! You’re So Crazy!

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Journalism, MMA
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dana White

As any reader of this blog knows (both of you), I’m very critical of MMA “journalists” (MMAJ). Part of the problem is that ESPN, Fox Sports Net, and mainstream media won’t give it proper recognition. Without legitimate media covering it extensively, the door remains wide open for the posers. So, how does MMA attract the mainstream media?

The UFC Is MMA

First things first; if MMA is to get legitimate media coverage, the UFC has to get it. Like it or not, the UFC is MMA right now. As the UFC goes, so goes the industry as a whole. So, the UFC needs to attract the media. That won’t happen as long as Dana White is in charge.

Before I point out my criticism of him, I want to say that Dana White has plenty reason to be proud of his accomplishments. He’s done a lot with the UFC, moving it from an organization besieged by politicians in the pockets of the powerful boxing lobby and Budweiser, to the frontrunner of a new and growing industry. Now he’s taken it international, both in terms of the investors he’s added and where the fight cards are hosted.

That being said, if Dana White is your mouthpiece, you’re not doing yourself many favors.

Though I’m not a fan of MMAJ, I don’t think calling Loretta Hunt a “fucking moron,” or her source a “fucking faggot,” is such a good idea. If ESPN see this – and of course, we all know they do – they might be a bit worried about how they’ll be treated by Dana White, either in or out of an interview. They’ll also be a little worried about how much flak they’ll take from various activist communities for giving Dana White a microphone.

This means that there will be limited legitimate media coverage, and the number of people willing to follow the sport will always be capped. You’d think this would inspire Dana to find someone to replace him as the face of the company, or at perhaps have Lorenzo Fertitta take over in that regard, but that’s not going to happen.

Dana White Doesn’t Care What I Think

Dana White’s ego will prevent him from ever changing in this regard. And really, why should he? Although the success of the UFC will always have a low ceiling in the United States, he’s found a way around that. With the wealth brought in via a new investor about a year ago, he’s been expanding into more international markets (the UFC was already in Western Europe at that point). This allows the industry to grow despite the fact that in any one particular culture his persona will cap his ultimate success. Moreover, there are far less politically correct societies than the United States, meaning that ceiling is much higher in those places – that is, there’s plenty of room to grow even if the population is smaller.

Until every single important international market is covered by the UFC, it will continue to have places to grow. By the time those markets are exhausted, though, Dana White will probably be old (or tired) enough to retire. Thus, Dana has no reason to change, and we have no reason to expect it. Because he has no reason to change, the perspective of the mainstream media also won’t change, and we’re stuck with crappy reporting from the bowels of people’s parents’ basements.

Aside: Other Things the UFC and Others Can Do

There are obviously other things the UFC could do to improve their position. Pushing articulate and/or inspiring fighters is one thing, and they do that for the most part. On the other end of the spectrum, the loyalty they showed Chuck Liddell in allowing him to retire when he wanted is moving but downright stupid. Muhammad Ali suffers from Parkinson’s Syndrome because his boxing career lasted far longer than it should have, and right or wrong, we all assume that’s connected to the corruption that runs rampant in boxing. (It’s probably right.)

Potentially allowing the same thing to occur to Chuck Liddell was very risky, and even though it didn’t come to that, it still brings corruption to mind. It appeared to the casual viewer that the UFC, like the pro boxing “machine,” was trying to milk as much out of Chuck’s celebrity as possible. What’s probably closer to the truth is that they wanted him to retire as a UFC fighter and not help legitimize a minor league by fighting elsewhere. That’s not much better. His health was at stake, and even though he would have been getting hit in the head no matter where he wound up fighting, they should have taken a stand, if not for Chuck’s sake, for the sake of every fighter that might be in that position in the future. In general, they also need to be more sensitive to appearances.

But . . .

While I don’t like how they handled Chuck’s situation, it would be unfair to characterize it as anything more than a mistake made under difficult circumstances they had never faced prior to then. It’s easy to criticize in hindsight. In truth, the UFC has a tremendous track record when it comes to how they handle their fighters. Just one of many examples of that is Corey Hill. I don’t want anyone to come away with the idea that the UFC isn’t, in general, very concerned with the well-being of their fighters. They seem to take care of them, and that needs to be made clear to both the legitimate news media and the public at large. That will help bring the legitimate news media on board and increase the fan base.

Conclusion

Regrettably, with respect to sham journalism, I think we’re in it for the long haul. Jon Anik does a great show on ESPN called MMA Live, and if I recall correctly, I’ve seen his claims in which he’s asking ESPN to give him more MMA assignments. I hope he gets them, but I’m not holding my breath.

Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
Follow the UFC on Twitter @ufc
Follow the Dana White on Twitter @danawhite
Follow ESPN MMA Live on Twitter @ESPN_MMALIVE
Follow Jon Anik on Twitter @Jon_Anik

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Comments
  1. kesseljunkie says:

    Good thoughts, and probably spot on – if he doesn’t need to care, why should he? He’s up to his neck in success, he got it the way he is and he hasn’t needed ESPN to do it. In a sense, I dig it, but that’s just because I like it when someone has seemingly no veneer between their personal and public thoughts.

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