UFC President Dana White held nothing back in his response to journalists critical of the fighting league for not following coronavirus guidelines.
The president of the mixed martial arts company, Ultimate Fighting Championship, unloaded on a New York Times reporter in a profanity-filled comment when asked about the criticism during a press conference on Wednesday.
**WARNING” GRAPHIC LANGUAGE**
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) May 14, 2020
The story, “U.F.C.’s Coronavirus Plan Is Careful. Its Enforcement Has Been Spotty,” was written by Kevin Draper, a sports business reporter for The New York Times, who called out the organization for not following the coronavirus protocols during the UFC 249 event held last Saturday.
Draper contended that UFC officials and fighters “routinely deviated from the outlined procedures in the days leading up to U.F.C. 249 and on the night of the pay-per-view event itself,” citing a 25-page document that listed “health and safety protocols that the organization would follow to ensure a safe event.”
He noted that some of the organization’s personnel didn’t wear masks at the Florida event, and the plan had stated that there were supposed to be “no face-to-face ‘in-Octagon’ post-fight or backstage interviews,” and interviews were supposed to be conducted “via headset with U.F.C. interviewers or commentators who will be stationed in a separate Arena zone.”
“On Saturday at U.F.C. 249, Gaethje and Rogan shouldn’t have touched, let alone stood within six feet of each other,” Draper wrote, referring to how analyst Joe Rogan shook hands with a fighter.
He also reported that on Friday, hours after fighter Ronaldo Souza took part in “a stare-down” with opponent, Uriah Hall, he and two others tested positive for COVID-19.
Asked about Draper’s story during Wednesday’s press conference, White declared he didn’t “give a f–k” what the newspaper had reported.
“F–k that guy. F–k that guy. You know what happened with that guy?” he said.
“That guy, who has never covered the sport ever before, was writing a story about [parent company] Endeavor… What do you think happened when this guy and this paper covered the UFC when they had never covered it before? What do you think happened? The f—–g story was huge,” White continued.
“They did killer traffic. Now they’re writing stories, three a week, and they’re posting live results I don’t give a s–t what that guy thinks, what he has to say or what he writes,” he added. “Good for him.”
White was then asked in a follow-up question if he was concerned about the article.
“I don’t give a f–k,” he declared. “Don’t give a f–k.”
Draper quote-tweeted the video and wrote: “Anyway, if you know anything I should know, email is in the bio.”
Anyway, if you know anything I should know, email is in the bio: https://t.co/CazurLphje
— Kevin Draper (@kevinmdraper) May 14, 2020
The writer found a way to get a shot in at President Donald Trump in his article as well.
“White believes that holding U.F.C. events can help show that it is safe to end stay-at-home orders and to resume holding public events. That belief, in part, appears to stem from his longtime friendship with President Trump — who, according to White, was looking at U.F.C. 249 as a blueprint,” he wrote.
White, who has been friends with Trump for years, told TMZ that the president’s “whole philosophy was let’s get sports back first, figure out how to do that safely.”
“Then let’s start figuring out how do you get people back in the office? How do you get people in cubicles? And, then how do you get kids back in school?” he added. “So, this is something we’ve been working on and yes, he’s absolutely watching what we’re doing this weekend.”
Trump celebrated the return of UFC fighting in a recorded message that was shown during ESPN’s broadcast last weekend.
“I want to congratulate Dana White and the UFC. They’re going to have a big match”
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) May 10, 2020
“I want to congratulate Dana White and the UFC. They’re going to have a big match. We love it. We think it’s important,” he said outside the White House.
“Get the sports leagues back. Let’s play. You do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do,” he added. “But we need sports. We want our sports back.”