- Dana White has heard the fervor regarding the silence of his employer, Endeavor, since his and his wife’s physical altercation during New Year’s Eve. Now he wants the world to know that there is a punishment for slapping his wife back: shame and disappointment.
White made an impromptu appearance during a media day in Las Vegas for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov to answer some lingering questions.
No Safe Harbor
“The focus is on [the fighters],” White said. “These guys have trained hard and gotten ready for this fight. What happened on New Year’s Eve is mine. My mistake. Not theirs.
“One thing I do want to clarify in this thing that I didn’t talk about on TMZ, because I didn’t expect it or I didn’t see it coming, is the people that are defending me. There’s never an excuse. There’s no defense for this, and people should not be defending me, no matter what. All the criticism I’ve received this week is 100 percent warranted.”
UFC bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley spoke almost in defense of White on his podcast “BrOMalley.”
“I feel bad for Dana,” O’Malley said. “His wife slapped him. That is rude. And it deserves a slapping back. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s a tricky one. I don’t know, treat people how you want to be treated.”
Later on another podcast, O’Malley explained the comments as “dark humor.”
Dana White with the “This hurts me more than it hurts you” lie is spectacular above the law nonsense. https://t.co/k5g4jhdxdM
— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) January 11, 2023
What Punishment Does Dana White Face For Slapping Wife?
However, there have been vigorous calls for his removal in the wake of the New Year’s Eve slap initiated by his wife, Anne, and returned by Dana. Former ESPN media personality Jemele Hill scolded her former employer, which is partnered with the UFC, for their silence in a column for The Atlantic titled “The Sports Scandal Almost Nobody Is Talking About.”
“When the head of a major sports organization is caught on video slapping his wife multiple times, his career should be in jeopardy. But other than a few days of remarkably mild criticism, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White appears to be avoiding any real professional consequences,” wrote Hill.
“The issue isn’t that ESPN has ignored White’s situation entirely. It’s just that the coverage of the incident has overall been pretty soft,” Hill continued. “Having worked at ESPN for 12 years, I know intimately the difference between cursory coverage and a nonstop national conversation fueled by the massive sports-media machine.”
Women’s Rights Groups Call For White’s Removal As UFC President
Additionally, on Monday, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus formally called for the removal of Dana White as UFC president in a public letter addressed to Ari Emanuel, head of Endeavor, the combat sports promotion’s parent company.
Look at the tap dancing around Dana White slapping his wife.
Suddenly they’re not down with cancel culture or “judging people by their worst moment.”
That’s not what they said about Kyrie Irving, and not what they’d say if Dana White was BLACK. pic.twitter.com/Ow0wrZivbd
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) January 7, 2023
The political women’s advocacy group consists of 18 state senators and 33 assemblywomen from the Golden State, where the UFC hosts many events throughout the year. White had news for everyone seeking retribution for his actions. He’s suffering in the respect department.
“What should the repercussions be?” White continued at the press conference. “I take 30 days off? How does that hurt me? I told you guys as we were going through [the COVID-19 pandemic], COVID could last 10 years, and I could sit it out. It’s much like COVID, actually. Me leaving hurts the company. Hurts my employees. Hurts the fighters. Doesn’t hurt me. I could’ve left in 2016 [when the company was acquired by Endeavor]. Do I need to reflect? I’ve been against this. I’ve owned this. I’m telling you that I’m wrong.
“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? You don’t bounce back from this. For the rest of my life, people will label me that. I did it.”
The Dana White Effect?
Will it be enough for the world to accept that Dana White is the face of his organization and arguably the sport itself? Could the UFC survive without White, who has positioned himself as the great legitimizer of MMA?
Vince McMahon left the WWE after his issues with women came out, and they weren’t even violent. The WWE feels the brand is strong enough to survive without its leader. According to Dana White, the UFC doesn’t have that type of confidence in the fighters and fights alone, and his transgressions should be kept in isolation. But will the world accept that as a solution?