Not many people are willing to challenge the word of UFC President Dana White, both inside and outside the UFC. Dana White says all manner of controversial things very regularly, but few fighters are willing to speak out against the man that signs their checks. Interestingly enough, one man that’s decided to do so recently is former champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. It’s pretty unusual that “Big Nog” makes himself a point of controversy, so here are all the details.
Recently, Nogueira gave his thoughts on Dana White’s recent assertion that Wanderlei Silva should more than likely retire after losing to Chris Leben. White even hinted that he might “Chuck Liddell” Wanderlei and basically force “The Axe Murderer” to retire.
Courtesy of Bloody Elbow, here’s just some of Nogueira’s response: “I think he was unfortunate with his comments. They’re idols of the sport, (Dana’s) not a God who decides on everyone’s career… I loved the fact that Tito Ortiz won his last fight. You see that these people were not champions for nothing. Ortiz, Wanderlei and Fedor were top fighters for a reason.”
I’ll start out by saying that I agree with “Big Nog” on one key item: Dana White isn’t some all-seeing, all-knowing deity. He’s perhaps the most powerful man in MMA, but he’s not the be-all end-all. MMA is a sport, the UFC is simply a promotion within that sport. And the sport of MMA is filled with veterans that have prolonged their careers by staying active after getting cut by the UFC.
But I will say this: when it comes to playing a pivotal role in your career… yep, that pretty much sums up Dana White to a tee.
If you’re a UFC fighter, Dana White can do… well, he can do pretty much whatever he feels like whenever he feels like it. He can ban you for life and you’ll simply have to deal with the knowledge that you’ll be forever forbidden from making the big, big money. He could bring you in with months of hype and then promptly cut you after one or two losses. He can fire you pretty much whenever he feels like it. Dana White may not be all-powerful… but for most fighters fighting under the Zuffa empire, especially the young upstarts… he’s honestly pretty close.
So, does it makes sense to call out Dana White? Only when you have a legitimate bone to pick. And to be honest, Nogueira does have a point. A fighter should choose when to call it a career, even if it means packing it in far after his peak. As veterans, they’ve earned that right. The most we can hope for is that they make the smart decision and retire before their win/loss ratio of recent years starts to overshadow the conquests of old.
And if we’re being brutally honest? Maybe Nogueira is feeling a bit spiteful because he knows that he too is coming up on the end of his career. The overall record of “Big Nog” is still ridiculously positive, but he’s lost two of his last three fights. And both of those losses were by (T)KO. So while Nogueira may have a point, a case could be made that he’s throwing stones in a glass house.