Don’t expect Dana White to sit idly by any more as the media provokes backstage brawls and street fights amongst its athletes.
It’s become a somewhat regular affair lately to see random fighters getting in each others’ faces on fight week. UFC 279 is a good example of this: Khamzat Chimaev got in Paulo Costa’s face at the UFC Performance Institute. Kevin Holland got in Khamzat Chimaev’s face at the UFC 279 presser. And when Nate Diaz showed with an entourage of volatile teammates, UFC president Dana White pulled the plug on the entire press conference.
The UFC wound up booking Chimaev and Holland to fight that weekend, and you might think that kind of decision making is what really fuels the increase in outside-the-cage activity. But according to White, it’s the MMA media that’s to blame. After Kevin Holland and Jorge Masvidal nearly fought in the fighter hotel leading up to UFC 279, White stopped members of the press from asking about the incident. He expounded on his reasons following the event.
“Well, the reason why I don’t want you guys talking about other fighters is, guys, we’re f—ing two days before a fight, he’s not fighting Jorge Masvidal,” White said. “Whatever they got into, whatever, first off all, it creates s— backstage and at the hotels, right? When you guys ask them questions like that and they say something, we still got two days until the fight and these guys run into each other backstage and everywhere else.
“And it’s so disrespectful to their opponent. There’s an opponent sitting up there that they’re gonna fight. And I just hate that s—.”
“I get it, you want your f—ing clicks or whatever it is you guys want to get, your little f—ing moment that you can post,” he continued. “But I will f—ing attack you if you do that, you know what I mean? It just causes a lot of bulls— backstage and at the hotel. It’s like the time the stuff went down with Diaz and all those guys, Khamzat. Those guys have twenty, thirty guys backstage. That s— just can’t happen here, and you guys can’t instigate.”
It’s an interesting position for White to take after he has spent the last few years allowing his roster to say and do whatever they want to hype up potential fights. There was a time back in the Zuffa days where everyone was on their best behavior at all times, lest they risk getting blackballed by the UFC. There were no issues backstage, and Vegas in general was considered hallowed ground. No fighter wanted Dana White to get a phone call from an upset casino floor manager.
Over the past several years, that changed. These days, the wrong combination of guys turning up at the buffet line could result in a fist fight. Confrontations in the fighter hotels are no longer shocking rarities. And in 2022 we witnessed a full on criminal assault when Jorge Masvidal jumped Colby Covington outside of a Miami Beach steakhouse.
Honestly, any effort to reign in this sort of thuggery is good news — even if it’s pointed at the press instead of the culture within UFC.
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