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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Though CagePotato.com has already issued a retraction of a satirical quote attributed to UFC President Dana White, the fallout continues. The reaction from the UFC seemed excessive this week, but UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta said on Thursday that it was more serious than some may think.
"These guys flatout lied," Fertitta said in an interview with USAToday.com. "They just made up a story and lied. Somebody who doesn't know what our policies are and what we do, they could look at it in a very negative light... The other thing too that you've got to understand is the fallout that you have. These fighters are already paranoid enough. Dana had to talk to Rashad on the phone for 30 minutes to calm him down, to tell him, 'Are you crazy? There's no way I would ever bet on a fight or bet against you.'
"These guys go out and do this reckless reporting -- it's not even reporting -- make these reckless statements and they end up causing us fallout and having to deal with issues. Why should we even have to deal with this stuff? They made this up and lied and put it online."
For those that missed it this week, CagePotato posted an article regarding Jon Jones wearing UFC gear at UFC 145, and they added a caption to a screen capture of White and Jones together in a commercial with quote marks around it. Their mistake was in failing to clearly mark it as satire, as a segment of the UFC's fanbase took it as a legitimate quote.
"[Claiming satire isn't enough] because we know what the outcome was," Fertitta said. "We had a flurry of people contacting us through e-mail, Twitter. Rashad throwing a complete fit and talking to Caren Bell, and then Dana having to call him to calm him down. If (people) thought it was just satire, we wouldn't have had that reaction..."
"It didn't even read like a joke. It didn't read like a joke at all. If you look at the article, when you first read that, it sounds like that they were in a room with Dana, talking to him, and he says, "Oh," and he kind of made a mistake and said something, and said 'Don't print that.' If I read an article like that, I would seriously believe that that actually happened and that went down. It wasn't like it was a cartoon of Dana, with him blurbing something out in his head, with a bubble. It was put in print like a regular article."
Though they haven't decided if the retraction from CagePotato is sufficient enough for them, Fertitta wanted to make it clear why they took it so seriously.
"You've got to understand, Rashad's entire team - his entire camp - was in his ear telling him they read this online and that Dana bet half a million dollars against him," Fertitta said. "This was a real issue. This isn't just some kind of slap on the back, funny little joke. This was reckless reporting on their part."
Penick's Analysis: Fertitta's comments make it seem like he didn't actually read the article, but is reacting to the reaction that they received. Still, what likely happened here is that the comment went over the heads of some, who then started passing it off as "Dana said he's betting on Jones!" Those reactions then likely reached Evans and his camp, who then took it as fact and reacted from there. It's unfortunate that it was taken like that, but even though the quote wasn't labeled as satire and CagePotato didn't attribute it to being a joke explicitly, for most it didn't come off as something that was actually said by White. It was an attempt to be a bit quippy in response to the subject they were writing about, and it's been taken far too seriously. The UFC have gotten their retraction, hopefully it can end there.
[Rashad Evans art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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