If you want to look at who has had a huge impact on the sport of MMA you need to look no further than Dana White. Dana White came along and helped ease the transition into the Zuffa buyout and performed a very vital role as the public hype man. Dana White got in front of the camera at every chance possible and sold his product, sold his company, sold his fighters and sold their fights. Dana White did what he needed to do to make you believe in the UFC and he did so with his own passion and unwavering belief in the UFC.
Dana White was a true believer.
But right now it is 2014, Dana White is still that true believer with a stake in a company worth a lot of money and he’s still doing the hard sell to anyone and everyone that will listen to him. Over the years Dana White’s passion and belief in the UFC product has taken on a different tone as Dana White is no longer just the hype man for the UFC, he is the UFC. Dana White is the UFC.
Stop for a second and think about why that might be an issue. The UFC was built upon the blood, sweat and tears of the investors, promoters and production team, sure, but mostly the fighters who stepped into the cage and laid it all on the line in the name of sport and entertainment. For the UFC early in the Zuffa days having Dana White in front of the camera at every turn and having him pitch the product to the media was the best possible scenario. Basically, he was a necessity early on, because his passion translated well, it showed people that if they weren’t paying attention that they were missing out, it gave them something to believe in.
But now, now I’m not so sure about it. It’s been years and Dana White’s role has not changed outside of his influence growing. If something in the MMA world is true it has to come from the lips of Dana White, otherwise it is just hearsay and conjecture. As you can imagine, there are negative connotations to this, as a lot of the MMA media rely so heavily on Dana White to form opinions. Look no further than this past weekend at UFC 169 where Dana White’s take on Jose Aldo, Alistair Overeem and Renan Barao matter so much that it is all that anyone can really take away from the show.
Apparently Jose Aldo’s virtuosic performance at UFC 169 against game challenger Ricardo Lamas was boring and Jose Aldo lacks killer instinct now. Alistair Overeem, who went into his fight against Frank Mir at UFC 169 coming off of back-to-back losses in fights that he was handily winning, but gassed out in, had a lot to prove to the world. So what did Alistair Overeem do? He proved to the world that he can still look great early on, but instead of fading and losing, he can dominate a fighter like Frank Mir without being knocked out, getting sloppy or gassing. According to Dana White it was a terrible performance.
Then there is Renan Barao. According to Dana White, Renan Barao must now be taken as one of the UFC’s pound-for-pound kings after a win over Urijah Faber. He simply must. So of course he jumped up a few places on the media rankings accordingly. Renan Barao is a tremendous fighter and I don’t see him losing that Championship any time soon, but if you want to talk pound-for-pound, I feel like there are fighters who have had more accomplishments and more impressive title reigns to factor in before you just arbitrarily bump someone up because Dana White was taken in the moment and wanted the media to sell his PPVs for him.
Dana White is the name you’ll see in what I’d have to guess is 70% of MMA-related headlines on MMA sites, which seems disproportionate to the sport. The internet is a deluge of Dana White’s thoughts, vitriol, rants and opinions and it seems very out of place. I mean, hell, if you watched the post-fight presser someone asked him who he was picking in the Super Bowl. Why should anyone care who the President of the UFC wants to win the Super Bowl? The answer is simple, because we’ve been conditioned to care about every little thing that Dana White says, that Dana White is pageviews, he’s controversy, he’s sound and video bytes.
So if he says that Jose Aldo and Alistair Overeem didn’t look good at UFC 169, who are we to doubt him, who are we to have differing opinions when we’ve been conditioned to place his opinions in higher regard than anything else? To be honest, the problem isn’t Dana White. Dana White is doing his job and doing it as well as he possibly can, the problem is that everyone is afraid to differ from his opinion and possibly look “stupid.” Dana White is doing his job, now it is everyone else’s turn to do their job and think critically.