Home > Analysis, Sports, Sportsmanship, UFC > What Dana White, President of the UFC, can teach us about sportsmanship

What Dana White, President of the UFC, can teach us about sportsmanship

When people think about the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), many are under the impression that it is bunch of bruisers and meatheads who lack any type of sportsmanship, entering the ring to simply defeat their opponent in the most violent and exciting way possible. This is completely false and the UFC is an organization extremely focused on sportsmanship.

Dana White is the president of the UFC and although he doesn’t fit the mold of your typical president, he is doing an excellent job. At first glance, White appears at a press conference with his shirt unbuttoned, lacking the professional aura that is typically given off by presidents in other professional sports. He is one of the best presidents in all of sports and the best thing about him is he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He swears, publicly calls out fighters, and doesn’t always dress in the most professional manner, yet he gets the job done.

White sticks to his guns so to speak. After Anderson Silva defeated Demian Maia in five rounds at UFC 112, White went off. Silva is arguably the best pound for pound fighter and in a very one sided fight against Maia he can be seen dancing around the ring, taunting his opponent. He could have easily defeated Maia yet chose to embarrass him instead, drawing out the fight until the end. His extremely unsportsmanlike behavior can be attributed to the fact that Maia insulted him and didn’t show enough respect (in the eyes of Silva). After the fight, White was so displeased with the Silva’s actions that he didn’t even know how to respond and actually walked out of the fight. He handed the championship belt to Silva’s manager and left. Here is the post-fight conference (Beware, there is some colorful language):

This past Saturday was UFC 113 and one of the fights was Josh Koscheck against Paul Daley. Many fights in the UFC have an element of trash talking between the fighters, often occurring before the fights, but in Saturday’s matchup, Josh Koscheck whispered something in the ear of his opponent Paul Daley at the end of the fight, prompting an extremely unsportsmanlike act. The bell rang and as Koscheck began to walk away, Daley went after him, hitting Koscheck with a left hook after the bell had clearly rung and the fighters should have been walking to their respective corners. Daley was immediately subdued by the referee and the fight was over. Koscheck won the fight by decision, yet Dana White had words for Daley after the fight.

“I don’t give a s*** if he’s the best 170 pounder in the world, he’ll never come back here again.” He later went on to say, “that stuff like the eye gouging, the hit after the bell, will never be tolerated. He’s done. I don’t care if he fights in every show all over the world and becomes the best and everybody thinks he’s the pound for pound best in the world. He will never fight in the UFC again.”

White has extremely strong opinions yet he is changing the perception that most people have of this sport. His opinions and values that he has, which are protecting the credibility of the sport, are providing people with a new picture. This is not such a barbaric, violent sport, but one of skill and sportsmanship. Fighters are not to defeat their opponent by any means necessary, but are mandated to stay inside the rules. Anything like this will not be tolerated as White said and will result in a potential termination of contract.

The perception that people have of the UFC being an unsportsmanlike sport is being erased by White. Behind the perceived violence is true sportsmanship. It is extremely admirable that White is willing to terminate a fighter, despite having the potential to be one of the best in the world, as a result of an unsportsmanlike act. We don’t see anyone’s contract being terminated in the NFL, the NHL, MLB or NBA. The only consequences of league violations or unsportsmanlike play, if any, are fines and suspensions. Occasionally we will see a lifetime ban from the sport, however, this is extremely rare.

Dana White represents true sportsmanship. He stands up for what is right for the sport and is willing to make difficult decisions regarding fighters, regardless of their popularity. His attitude towards sportsmanship could definitely be used in other sports. Imagine if a player who was caught doing something unsportsmanlike was eliminated from their respective sport. This would completely change the games, cleaning them up for the better.

The bottom line is not to judge Dana White based on how he presents himself, but rather the values that he stands for. His attitude towards sportsmanship could definitely be used in other sports. The values that he expresses are altering people’s perceptions of the UFC from a violent, barbaric sport, to a sportsmanlike game.

  1. Anonymous
    May 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Good article. MMA has and will always have the reputation of a barbaric sport, because quite frankly it is. Hand to hand combat was, at one point, a means of survival, and it hasn’t changed much today (Except that professional fighters are competing for a prize that guarantees their survival, as opposed to fighting to the death, a more literal fight for survival.)But I like your stance on Dana. As a moderate fan of the UFC and MMA, I thought for a long time that White was the president of a fighting organization and thought of it as a sign of toughness if he kicked people out after one wrong move. However, I now know that White’s role in the UFC, the premier MMA organization in the world I believe, is essential, and in a sport that is already in a perpetual fight for legitimacy, White can’t take any shit from any fighter, no matter how popular or impressive.

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