Dana White's Enemies List: New Additions for 2013
I'm just going to put it out there: UFC president Dana White appears to have something of an outspoken personality. He is somewhat generous with his opinions.
Can you picture him around the Zuffa offices? Can't you just imagine staffers diving under their desks whenever White emerges from the bathroom, for fear of receiving a 10-minute, possibly expletive-laden treatise on the dimensions and implications of his most recent constitutional? I can imagine that.
So, what I'm saying is, I'm saying no one really has to guess where they rate with Dana White. Do you have seven hours? If so, White will be happy to tell you all about it. That can be a good thing, or that can be a not-so-good thing. It's kind of like buying your credit score. If you don't want to know, don't freakin friggin ask, guy.
And don't kid yourself: If you're on the dark side of the equation, gosh help you. For those poor souls, White takes on a decidedly Nixonian bent. If he doesn't have an actual written enemies list, as the former president did, he surely has one in his mind, scrawled in the blackest and most permanent of inks.
These are my own guesses for the 10 people and entities that have entered the list in 2013. Save your Tito Ortiz questions and similar queries; this is only for new entrants.
10. John Cholish
John Cholish was a perfectly serviceable soldier in the middle ranks of the lightweight division. After two straight defeats, in May Cholish took his fate into his own hands and retired from the sport—a move he felt fairly confident making thanks to his little side job as a full-time energy commodities broker on Wall Street.
So why, then, did White call Cholish a "moron"? Probably because of those comments Cholish made on The MMA Hour broadcast in which he detailed the costs and revenue of the average fighter, then concluded the average fighter is pretty underpaid. Not exactly music to the prez's ears. And when the prez doesn't hear music in his ears, that's when the prez gets mad.
9. Steve Mazzagatti
Dana White has never been a fan of referee Steve Mazzagatti, who White and many others view as maybe the least-competent official working in MMA today.
But in the wake of a highly questionable decision at World Series of Fighting 3 in June, White took the whole thing to a new level with a nine—count them!—nine-minute video rant on Mazzagatti, in which poor Mazzagatti went from hapless annoyance to legitimate public safety threat.
8. Matt Riddle
Matt Riddle essentially blackballed himself from the UFC in February when, following his release from the promotion after another positive weed test, he blasted various UFC business practices and said he wouldn't return to the UFC even if he invited.
To the surprise of nothing and no one, White quickly responded that Riddle would not be receiving any such invitation so long as he had breath in his body, and the Earth was rotating on its freaking fracking axis, thank you so frickin very much.
A few twists and turns later, Riddle announced his retirement, but took extra special care to thoroughly flip off the UFC on his way out. White, unable to help himself, threw a few shovelfuls of dirt on the grave. Kind of a strange end game for a relatively popular and fairly successful welterweight and former contestant on The Ultimate Fighter.
7. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
This one's pretty cut and dried. Quinton Jackson and White spar for years over pay scale and other things, White appears to want to make nice, Jackson plays out his contract string, Jackson jumps to Bellator and fires off just about every parting shot he could think to fire off.
Most recently, White called Jackson a crybaby in an interview, and Jackson responded by telling the prez to keep his name out of his mouth, or else. Or else what, Rampage? Or else what? I'm legitimately curious.
6. Philippe Dauman
I'm no Tom Shales, but my limited knowledge of TV and show business does lead me to suspect that messing with the president and CEO of Viacom is the kind of thing that gets you quietly vaporized and subsequently expunged from the world's major identity databases.
And yet, White did it anyway. The stones on this freakin' guy. Am I right?
After the breakup in 2011 between the UFC and Spike TV, which Viacom owns along with approximately one gajillion other media properties, Spike entered into business with UFC rival Bellator, and in January 2013 announced the creation of Fight Master, a reality TV competition that would feature as coaches former UFC champions and current UFC gadflies Randy Couture (more on him later) and Frank Shamrock.
Well, White didn't like that very much. And on a late January episode of UFC Tonight, White burned the Viacom bridge, scooped the ashes into a chum smoothie, and poured that smoothie over the glassy surface of Lake Mead.
He had plenty of ammo for all parties involved, but the biggest shot may have landed on Viacom head honcho Philippe Dauman, who White called a "pompous, arrogant clown." Yeesh.
5. Jon Fitch
White has always been critical of Jon Fitch's wrestling-heavy style, which the prez refers to as "boring."
Still, it came as quite a surprise when the UFC cut the welterweight contender, along with 15 others, in February. Both men attempted to take a relatively high road on the matter, with White saying the decision was strictly business and not personal. But despite the higher-than-average nicety levels, the two still ended up sparring in the court of public opinion about White's very favorite issue: fighter pay.
Either way, thanks to Fitch's submission loss to Josh Burkman in his World Series of Fighting debut, it looks, at least at the moment, like White cut bait on Fitch at the right time.
4. Randy Couture
True, this particular slice of animosity dates back well before 2013. Randy Couture, the multi-time UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, has a well-documented history of friction with his former employer over pay, contracts and various other stuff.
But it all came to a head this year when Couture gathered up his title belts and his spurs and trotted on over to rivals Bellator and Spike to coach on Fight Master.
You could say White didn't care for that move. As is the case with most of the names on White's enemies list, you can make a case for both sides. But right or wrong, White always makes sure he gets the last word, and in this case he openly crowed that he was "glad" the Hall of Famer was "gone forever" from the UFC.
3. Stephen Murphy
I don't know anything about Steve Murphy's politics. I'm sure he's a fine, upstanding citizen with many wonderful ideas for improving the lives of the people of Boston and their various places and visitors and so forth.
But the city council president drew the ire of native son White in August when, in advance of the UFC's visit there, he proposed a resolution to ban people under 18 years old from attending UFC shows.
White gathered his thoughts, then called Murphy a "jackass," and his resolution a study in "ball-kicking." To be fair, it does seem like kind of a silly use of government time and resources, especially when combined with other efforts like this one, and especially given the suspected motivations behind the action. Speaking of which...
2. UNITE HERE
Yep. It was a pretty inhospitable homecoming for White when the UFC came to Beantown in August.
And it wasn't just Murphy. Working behind the scenes to derail White and the UFC at each and every turn was the Boston arm of UNITE HERE, which represents Culinary Union Local 226. If you're not familiar, that union has been working against the UFC and Zuffa in Las Vegas for quite a while, mainly because Zuffa owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta also own Station Casinos, a chain of casinos which is rather conspicuously non-unionized.
UNITE HERE was just the latest group to pursue the UFC on behalf of union interests. I'm sure White was none too happy to see it happen in his own hometown.
1. Maggie Gray
For my money, this is the strangest and most virulent addition to the enemies list. And boy is that ever saying something.
Following Chris Weidman's upset of Anderson Silva at UFC 162, respected panelists on web show SI Now leaned back in their chairs, stroked their chins and wondered whether the fix might be in for all of this ultimate cockfighting business. (They ultimately decided, after much brow-furrowing, that it prooobably wasn't.)
In response, White calmly laced up his steel-toes, donned his finest body armor, filled his grenade belt to capacity and came after the panel and its parent, Sports Illustrated, with his own unique brand of white-eyed unhingement.
To their credit, the SI Now panel—most notably host Maggie Gray—stood in front of the onslaught, poised with bayonets as fixed as possible while expressing some contrition for the various, eh, irresponsibilities. They even had White on the show. Based on the colorful (see what I did?) little exchange that ensued between Gray and White (video and transcripted highlights here), I imagine there won't be fruit cakes exchanged in either direction this holiday season.
And that's a shame. I bet Dana White makes a kick-ass fruitcake.
Scott Harris doesn't want to make any MMA enemies lists. Make friends with him on Twitter.