Does Dana Say too much to the media?
Over the course of a single week, UFC president Dana White has revealed his frustration with Donald Cerrone joining the MMAAA, detailed his perspective of the UFC’s negotiations with Cris Cyborg, announced a formation of a new Women’s Featherweight Division, and teased that a new announce team will be emerging in the UFC.
White divulges more than any other executive in sports. While this is a dream scenario for anyone who writes about MMA, over time White’s public credibility is slowly eroding.
The issue lies not in how often White speaks to the media, but in how truthful his statements tend to be.
His statements about Cyborg alone have been refuted by Cyborg’s camp, Holly Holm’s representation, and several credible MMA journalists.
Like any other head of a major organization, White is not held to a standard of absolute truth. Being coy about future fight announcements might be good for business, but it also puts a major qualifier before any public statements that White makes.
In one sense, White’s “flip-flopping” has served him well. By changing his tune on women in the UFC, Conor McGregor’s immediate return to the Featherweight Division, and the sudden creation of a Women’s Featherweight Division, White has shown a willingness to sell pay-per-views over his own personal pride.
As admirable as that may be, it also undermines White’s standing in the sphere of public opinion.
Lest we forget about White’s insistence on Twitter that Khabib Nurmagomedov would soon be facing Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight championship; mere days later, the mega announcement was made that Alvarez would defend his title in the main event of UFC 205 opposite Conor McGregor.
Anyone with a slightly skeptical bone in their body could see how Nurmagomedov was used as a negotiating pawn to schedule the super fight. By showing his hand, White gained no favor from Nurmagomedov or ardent MMA observers.
One of the enduring qualities of Dana White is that fans of the sport have access to him unlike any other sports commissioner. In contrast to robotic NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, UFC fans feel like they “know” White on a personal level.
While it is refreshing that White avoids mundane cooperate speak, it also increasingly paints White in a negative light.
Sure, it is not White’s job to be liked by the UFC fan contingency, but he has thrived in that role in the past.
Until recent years, White could seemingly do wrong in the eyes of UFC fans. White never lost popularity over his treatment of MMA journalist Loretta Hunt or his public shaming of Cris Cyborg, but this is a new day in the UFC, where the mainstream sports media rallied for the cause of ousted MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, and the MMA media has given a forum to fighter activist groups like the MMAFA, PFA, and the MMAAA.
White is no longer the public head of the trailblazing Zuffa organization; he is now the mouthpiece of the monolithic WME-IMG backed UFC.
If WME-IMG remains reluctant to comment on UFC matters, White has a double responsibility to the public and his corporate overlords alike.
White has made himself the face of the UFC. Fighters may come and go, but White is constant. Speaking so freely may make him endearing, but he is costing himself public perception.
With such inconsistencies and inaccuracies in White’s public comments, the public has no reason the put a great deal of stock in the words the he publicly speaks or tweets.
A continued pattern of falsehoods reduces interest in White’s many public media appearances, especially if they include a heavy dose of “Dana-Speak.”
If White is unable to be truthful with the public, perhaps he should address them less often.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S “MEDIA & BUSINESS” COLUMN: The importance of two UFC post-fight promos, recommended reading on MMAAA announcement
(Robert Vallejos writes a new Specialist column for MMATorch titled “Media & Business” focused on, you guessed it, the media coverage of MMA and the business side of MMA. He is fascinated by the presentation, business decisions, media strategy, and press coverage of both UFC and MMA as a whole, and will bring that curiosity to explore and delve into that side of MMA to his weekly Specialist column here at MMATorch. He explains his approach: “As a sport in its relative infancy, MMA does not receive the same level of scrutiny and informed analysis from the sports media as other more established entities. This is why it is vital for independent outlets such MMATorch to grow, while featuring a variety of voices. Unlike mainstream outlets, MMATorch is not beholden to any organization. Therefore I believe it is essential for individuals such as myself to explain not only the ‘what’ but also the ‘why’ of MMA.”)