My reaction piece to Chuck Liddell losing with Jerry Millen commenting has caused a bit of a firestorm and I have taken a lot of heat for it, which was what I expected.
The question many are asking is, why would you ask Jerry for comment?
The answer: accountability.
First off, let me say I’m not real happy with how this industry covers Dana White. Some journalists live in fear of him and won’t say anything critical because they are afraid the UFC might cut them off. And then you have the complete opposite end of the spectrum where people allow personal issues to interfere with their objectivity and they use every opportunity they can to bash the guy.
I’ve only spoken to Dana White a few times (which is funny, because some people have accused me of being in his “hip pocket”) and my limited professional dealings with him have been nothing but positive. When I’ve interviewed him, he’s been great. He’s never dodged a question and has treated me with respect. When I ask him questions on conference calls, he always shows me and most other journalists in this industry respect. For the most part, he treats reporters in this industry a lot better than most heads of major sports organizations do.
I also think he’s done a lot of great stuff for this sport and has made a lot of great decisions. But he isn’t perfect and has made mistakes at times. His handling of the long-awaited Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell match that this industry has been teasing us with for five years is one example.
Somebody needs to cover Dana White down the middle. When the UFC does something right (which is most of the time) I give them credit. And when they don’t (which is rare), I point it out. For the first time ever, the UFC had Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva under contract to the same company. There was nothing in the way of giving the fans what they wanted.
Well, except for Keith Jardine.
Am I aware that Chuck wanted to fight in September? Sure. But I’m sure Andrei Arlovski would like to have a match scheduled to so he can get paid. Just because a guy in the UFC wants to get booked for a match doesn’t mean he should automatically gets a bout agreement over his FAX or e-mail.
I’m also aware that Jardine vs. Liddell was signed after Wanderlei officially signed and that UFC 76 needed a main event. When I said Jardine vs. Liddell should have been canceled I got calls from a few people in the industry who said “Sam, you really sound like you know nothing about the business when you suggest a main event should be canceled weeks out.”
Here’s what I do know: canceling Jardine vs. Liddell would have hurt business in the short-term, but it would have helped business in the long-term. Aside from Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra, what’s the other money matchup for the big year end card in December?
When Cro Cop knocked out Wanderlei during the PRIDE open weight Grand Prix last September, I remember Dana going on Scott Ferrall’s Sirius Satellite Radio show and saying something to the effect, “The axe murderer got murdered, they just blew the biggest fight in MMA history.”
Well, if Dana was right when he said it doesn’t he have to be wrong now? But very few people have pointed that out. Is it because they are afraid to be critical of him? I was on his hometown radio station in Vegas and pointed out that he was hypocritical and wrote the same on this site. But I felt my comments alone weren’t enough. He was critical of PRIDE for the same mistake last year and I felt someone who had been with PRIDE deserved a chance to respond. Sorry, but I don’t have access to Sakikabara, and even if I did, do you think he’d speak out?
People can say what they want about Jerry Millen, but he’s one of the few guys in this industry who isn’t afraid to speak his mind about Dana White and the UFC.
If you want a pro-UFC website or an anti-UFC website, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you want a site that covers the UFC objectively, thanks for stopping by.