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Fact Checking Dana White


UFC president Dana White never met an opportunity to slam his rivals that he didn’t like and the UFC 82 post-fight presser was no exception to that rule.

With just one question, White managed to rip not one, but three of his chief competitors.

“On the CBS thing, was it more creative control over the product or was it more them wanting to buy into the company that saw things end the way they did,” Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! asked White.

From there, White not only ripped EliteXC, which announced a deal last week to televise four fight cards in primetime on CBS, but also the IFL and Mark Cuban’s HDNet Fights.

“Like I said, I told somebody the other day, we’re not gonna to cut a stupid deal,” White began to respond. “It’s not gonna happen. Whether it’s CBS, HBO, NBC, whoever. Everybody thinks that the mixed martial arts market is so hot right now. The UFC is hot right now.”

So far, nothing all that bad. But White was just warming up.

“The IFL was gonna take us out last year and they’re offering stock options and other stuff to all of the fighters,” White continued. “Some guys we had long-term relationships with left and went there. A year later it’s gone.

“… Now the big scary guy was Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban is coming in. Mark Cuban doesn’t give a [expletive deleted] about mixed martial arts. Mark Cuban has dumped millions of dollars into HDNet and he wants subscribers. He’s a businessman. He’ll build up the subscribers and sell it to Comcast and get out. I think he’s passionate about basketball (but) I don’t think he’s interested in mixed martial arts and he’ll be onto the next business venture.

“Now CBS is getting involved. CBS bought ProElite, which was going out of business and about to fail. And they bought them and now they’re going to give them a shot.

It’s been like this for eight years. Eight years there’s been a new three letters popping up and they buy a cage and they’re in the business. We love this shit. This is what we do for a living. We love it. We do it 24-7 and nobody is going to beat us at it.”

White’s entitled to express his opinion, after all it is his press conference. But opinions are one thing and facts are another. And there are some blatant errors regarding some of White’s statements.

Perhaps the incorrect statements were no big deal. However, isn’t White being a little hypocritical?

The UFC was extremely unhappy when Randy Couture held a press conference last year to address his estranged relationship with the promotion. During the course of the press conference, he misrepresented facts pertaining to a signing bonus that had been paid to him by the UFC. The promotion was so distraught by Couture’s claims and comments that they felt the need to include their complaint as a part of a injunction they filed against him over issues with his involvement with other fight promotions.

White was incorrect when he stated that the IFL was “gone.” In fact, the promotion had just held a card in Las Vegas the day prior to UFC 82 and has shows scheduled for April and June. Also, CBS did not acquire ProElite. They bought a significant amount of stock (according to an SEC filing on February 26) in the company but not enough to qualify it as an owner.

The UFC felt the need to seek relief from the court against Couture because they felt his statements were harmful to their business. Well, how is erreonsly going out and saying a company is out of business when it isn’t not harmful to that company’s business?

Some of White’s other statements are also highly debatable. While it’s obvious in ProElite’s SEC filings that the company has lost millions since its inception, there is no evidence to my knowledge that makes it clear they were “going out of business.”

In regards to his statements about Cuban, claiming that the Dallas Mavericks owner only wants to use MMA to increase his subscriber base and sell it is quite an accusation to make without any sort of evidence to support his claim. Until his last sentence about Cuban, he didn’t quantify his words as being his thoughts. He tried to pass it off as fact, which isn’t a problem if it’s true. But how do we know what he said about Cuban’s intentions is even remotely close to the truth?

“HDNet has really only been focused on MMA for a few months. It’s nice to know that in that short period of time he has paid enough attention to us to know what I’m going to do,” HDNet Fights owner Mark Cuban responded when contacted by ( via e-mail for comment.

There’s another layer to all of this that goes beyond fact or fiction — and that’s right vs. wrong. From a business perspective, is it smart for White to continue to indirectly promote his competition? A great deal of the reporters he speaks to rarely challenge his statements because they are relative neophytes to the sport. They don’t know enough about the sport to ask questions. Just like some of them may not have any idea that the IFL, EliteXC, or HDNet Fights even exist.

I’ve heard many say that White has modeled a lot of his business decisions after WWE owner Vince McMahon. If that’s true then there’s one lesson of McMahon’s that he should really take to heart; which is that McMahon rarely, if ever, spoke about his competition in public. He was careful to make sure he attracted as little attention to them as possible. I can’t help but wonder from a pure business standpoint if White should follow suit.

It looks like I’m not the only one who feels that way.

“My real hope is that he will mention us in every press conference or interview,” said Cuban. “And that all his advertisers , fighters and partners compare how the UFC treats them vs. how HDNet or the Mavs treat them.”