On Monday, Dec. 21, UFC president Dana White released a nearly five-minute long video that took aim at MMA media. The video specifically targeted media members and the media in general after they were rightfully critical of the UFC’s decision-making in March and April.
“I’m not afraid of the media. Why should anybody listen to the media? Who are these people? What makes them experts? What have they ever accomplished?” White says during the video.
In this video, Ant Walker and Matthew Wells respond to White’s anti-media propaganda.
Walker labels it as hilarious, disturbing and troubling, and states that nothing says 2020 more to him than this video.
Wells says that the UFC really had a chance here to create a great thank you video and tribute to the many fighters, staff, and fans that helped to keep the show running in 2020. But instead, the UFC chose to target the media and merely congratulate White’s defiance.
Video summary (watch the full video here):
Wells: This is just a huge middle finger to all the journalists. We finally get a few weeks off, we’re ready to relax, and then Dana drops a big F you guys, F all you people who cover this sport and make it interesting with all the work and coverage and all the interviews you do with the fighters.
Walker: Seriously, one of the funniest things I’ve seen in my life but there’s a whole lot of problems here.
Wells: The NBA got one case and shut the whole thing down immediately. At the time, UFC was still going forward with an event in Brazil with no protocols whatsoever. UFC’s approach was basically ‘screw you, you’re not going to shut us down.’ It was a strange defiance.
Walker: That was a terrifying time. But at that time, UFC was already there. I’m a little more forgiving at this stage. But remember how Marc Raimondi asked Dana White about COVID-19 impacting events and White laughed it off? UFC was still running ads for UFC 249. Woodley vs. Edwards was going on next week in London and they weren’t worried.
Wells: All of this was so very strange to me. We’ve often been critical of the UFC and I remember White being reckless with a lot of things, but this is the time not to be that guy. This is the time to listen to science and go along with everyone else. It’s not the time to stick your neck out and try and be different. It wasn’t the time.
Walker: UFC then proceeded to blatantly skirt regulation. What did he think the media was going to do? Journalism is not PR. We are reporters, media, journalists, we are outsiders to the UFC and therefore we speak as outsiders. Therefore, we criticize if that’s the truth that we see.
Anyone with half a brain and a fourth of an eye saw the UFC acting recklessly, being defiant for the sake of defiance, for the sake of money and to preserve their broadcasting contracts that are very lucrative for Endeavor. We saw this because we’re not stupid and because we’re not held by any sort of employee or employer arrangements. We saw something wrong and we called them out.
Wells: Their primary objective was merely to find a location to host their fights. They tried Florida, couldn’t get one there, and then they tried Tachi Palace.
Walker: And then the UFC wanted to run everything out of the APEX until Nevada State Athletic Commission shut that down. They ended up in Jacksonville, where Jacare Souza tested positive for COVID-19. UFC knew that his wife had previously tested positive. Then photos/video emerged of Jacare mingling with others at the hotel during fight week.
And then it was the Fight Island announcement.
Wells: You’re going way out of your way to secure an island and hold fights while everyone else is trying to abide by government regulations?
Walker: At this point, most media members weren’t overly critical of the process. We saw that it could work. We had reports that it was safe and it was ok. Then the media turned its attention back to the fights.
But the UFC never really did enforce an actual bubble when they got back to Vegas. Just look at how many fights were canceled recently.
And how about the video? Were there any tributes to Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov? Rose Namajunas’ family? A get well message for Cody Garbrandt? Anything for Leon Edwards who lost a concerning amount of weight due to COVID-19?
Wells: Why does this have to be about Dana White and the defiant leader? What about the staff? Everyone who makes the UFC what it is? What about the fighters? It was just Dana White. It’s crazy that this was the message they went with.