- UFC boss Dana White made a surprise appearance Wednesday to face MMA media.
- It was the first time White’s been seen in public since video emerged, showing him slapping his wife on New Year’s Eve.
- He implored people to “not defend” him, he said, as what he did has “no defense.”
LAS VEGAS — Dana White, the most powerful figure in combat sports, said Wednesday that “people should not be defending” him after a video emerged this month, showing him slapping his wife, Anne White.
The couple, who have been married since 1996, issued immediate statements to TMZ following the incident, which occurred in a VIP area of a Cabo San Lucas nightclub on New Year’s Eve.
In the video, Dana and Anne can be seen arguing. Dana, 53, takes hold of Anne’s wrist and she responds by slapping him. White responds by striking her back at least once.
—Al Dawson (@AlanDawsonSport) January 11, 2023
Prominent figures in the UFC, like lightweight contender Dustin Poirier and commentator Dan Cormier, have been openly critical of Dana White.
However, bantamweight fighter Sean O’Malley said on his podcast that he feels “bad for Dana.”
He 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.”
Comments like that are not exclusive to O’Malley, as the response online amongst MMA fans has been mixed, and it is something White himself wanted to address Wednesday when speaking to Insider and other reporters at the Apex.
“One thing that I do want to clarify,” White said, “there’s no defense for this and people should not be defending me over this thing, no matter what.”
White said: “All the criticism that I have received this week and in the future is 100% warranted.”
Commenting on those who levied blame on his wife for striking him before he struck her, White said: “There’s only one side of this — my side.
“There’s never a reason or an excuse for what happened on New Year’s Eve to ever happen, period. I’m 53, I’ll be 54 this summer, and I’ve never done it” before, he said.
‘You don’t ever bounce back from this’
Insider reminded White about a comment he made back in 2014 in response to seeing the video of former NFL running back Ray Rice knocking out fiancée — “You don’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman,” he said — and asked how he could bounce back from this.
“You don’t,” White told us. “You don’t ever bounce back from this. For the rest of my life, however long that is, people are going to label me that. I did it.”
—Al Dawson (@AlanDawsonSport) January 11, 2023
White said it’s something he “has to deal with and live with” forever.
The UFC’s business partners are not happy with him, White said
One of the noticeable aspects regarding the aftermath has been the muted response from UFC’s business partners, broadcast partners, and big-name sponsors, as reported by the New York Times.
White addressed the seeming lack of repercussions he’s faced. “What should the repercussions be? You tell me. I take 30 days off? How does that hurt me?” he said.
“Me leaving hurts the company, hurts my employees, hurts the fighters. It doesn’t hurt me.”
White then said he “could have left in 2016” when Endeavor (formerly known as WME-IMG) bought UFC for $4 billion. White made approximately $360 million from the deal, and stayed on as company president.
White noted the reaction Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, in particular. “We’ve had plenty of discussions internally with Ari, ESPN … nobody’s happy about this,” he said. “Neither am I. But it happened and I have to deal with it.”
Punishment, White said, is having to “walk around for however long I live, and this is how I’m labeled now,” he said.
“My other punishment is that a lot of people, whether it be media, fighters, friends, acquaintances who had respect for me, might not have respect for me now.”
It’s a ‘personal matter’ that has ‘played out in public,’ White said
White said: “This is a personal family matter that played out in public and our biggest focus was our kids.
“You want to talk about people being disappointed? Who’s going to be more disappointed than your kids are, and that’s what we’ve really been focused on.”
He continued: “Obviously we’re still dealing with the kids. My oldest isn’t happy with us, and I’m sure it’s embarrassing for the kids. Obviously, for my kids, it’s a big deal.”
After a four-week hiatus, UFC returns with a live show Saturday, to be broadcast on ESPN from Las Vegas. The seventh-ranked light heavyweight Sean Strickland fights Nassourdine Imavov, ranked 12th, in the main event.
Another of White’s combat sports ventures, Power Slap, premieres on January 18 on TBS. It was originally scheduled to air on January 11.