This weekend the UFC will hold its first card of 2023, which meant that on Wednesday, the promotion’s president Dana White hosted his first press conference since TMZ published video of him hitting his wife Anne at a club on New Year’s Eve. White has thus far benefitted from sympathetic national media coverage, and the only professional consequence he’s faced was that TBS decided on a one-week delay for the premiere of his show based on the Power Slap League. As noted by ESPN’s MMA reporter Brett Okamoto, TBS, White’s partners at ESPN, and UFC’s parent company Endeavor have declined to comment, and although everyone who makes money off Dana White wants this to go away, yesterday’s presser forced him to talk more about what happened.
When asked whether he would face any repercussions, White dismissed the idea that any sort of suspension would be meaningful. He mentioned internal discussions with ESPN and Endeavor about some unspecified form of discipline, but nothing concrete. He tried to justify the lack of consequences by making the strange argument that if he stepped away from UFC temporarily, it would actually hurt the roster of fighters more than him.
“What should the repercussions be? I take 30 days off?” White said. “Here’s my punishment: I have to walk around for however long I live—and this is how I’m labeled now. My other punishment is that I’m sure a lot of people, whether it be media, fighters, friends, acquaintances, who had respect for me might not have respect for me now. There’s a lot of things I have to deal with the rest of my life that’s way more of a punishment than, what, I take a 30-day or 60-day absence?”
White is correct when he acknowledges his own hypocrisy and calls for people to stop defending him. The problem is that he shouldn’t be in charge of administering discipline to Dana White. He pretends like his own shame, and the toll of having to run a billion-dollar business, is equivalent to consequences, while Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel makes sure not to disturb anything. As if slapping his wife was something that happened to Dana White, and not something he did.
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