He’s one of the biggest bad boys in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts…and he’s not even a fighter. He’s the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the number-one MMA promotion in the world. Both revered and reviled for his take-no-prisoners profanity-fueled methods of communication, when UFC President Dana White speaks, we all have to listen. Whether you love him or hate him, I can’t imagine anyone’s opinion on MMA mattering more than Dana White’s, and that includes the often-silent Fertitta brothers who own more of the company than he does. And White has recently chimed in with his opinion on the Chael Sonnen steroid scandal.
He’s what the controversial figurehead had to say in an interview with Bleacher Report: “Am I disappointed? Yes, absolutely… The big misconception is that Dana tells the athletic commission this and that. I don’t tell the athletic commission jack ****… I have to sit back now and see what’s going to happen… Every other sport has a commissioner. The NFL has a commissioner. When something goes wrong he comes in and says here’s what’s going to happen. The government tells my fighters what’s going to happen to them…You don’t realize how devastating it is. They’ve already been punished. They’re down and out. What am I going to do? Go over and kick them in the face? What else is there to do? I’m going to fine you and suspend you for another three months? The government is the commissioner!”
Dana White raises an excellent point, I honestly can’t see why some people are blaming him. It’s true that he’s willing to give second chances to people that have tested positive for steroids in the past, but only if they own up to their mistakes and make a concentrated effort to never slip back into substance abuse. And it’s not like White has given everyone a second chance- time and time again Dana White has railed on former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett, who has tested positive for steroids multiple times in his career. White has criticized Barnett again and again for what he (White) feels is Barnett’s unrepentant, unapologetic nature. White has even gone as far as to say on multiple occasions that “The Babyfaced Assassin” will never work in the UFC again.
As strongly as I’ve come out against Performance Enhancing Drugs in MMA, at the end of the day I think that people deserve a second chance. Maybe I’m just a bleeding heart. If a fighter has the intestinal fortitude to come clean and get clean, then he deserves one more shot at grabbing his fair share of the spotlight. You’ll never see me advocate or endorse PED’s in any type of sport, but I do think that people can change their bad behaviors if they really want to.
The only thing I disagree with White on is his assertion that the commission has done enough and that he shouldn’t kick a fighter when he’s down. Some people will probably call it “overreacting” if White institutes a system of additional punishments in regards to fighters testing positive for banned substances, but I call it an old-fashioned case of “tough love”. Maybe White shouldn’t extend a fighter’s suspension or fine them in addition to their commission-appointed fine. But what about making them fight at least once outside of the UFC before being allowed back with open arms? How about making them work their way up the rankings from scratch? I don’t think Dana White should be kicking fighters when they’re down either, but I also don’t think that he should be bending over backwards to raise them back up.
And what do you think, fans and friends? Do you agree with White in that the commission’s punishment of fighters is enough? Or do you think that something more is called for?