Monday, April 20, 2009

WTF? It Was One F-Bomb Too Many for Head of No. 1 Mixed Martial Arts Circuit


UFC President Dana White Is Well Known for Dropping the Four-Letter F-Bomb on His Own 'Ultimate Fighter' TV Show -- Bleeped Out, Of Course -- But It's the Six-Letter, Anti-Gay F-Bomb That Got Him in Trouble



Dana White is a familiar figure to viewers of Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show. The president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest and best-known circuit in mixed martial arts, is well known for pulling no verbal punches on his show -- including some well-placed F-bombs and other profanities that routinely get bleeped out by Spike TV censors. But last week, White suddenly found himself in the eye of a media hurricane over his use of the other F-bomb: The six-letter version that is as offensive to gays as the N-bomb is to blacks. White quickly apologized for using the slur, but is nonetheless angry at the media's attention to it. (Photo Courtesy Spike TV)


(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Monday, April 20, 2009)

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SPECIAL REPORT
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By NEIL DAVIDSON
The Canadian Press


No stranger to dropping the four-letter F-bomb, Ulitmate Fighting Championship president Dana White is still smarting over his use of the other F-bomb -- the six-letter anti-gay version -- in a recent video blog.

He’s sorry he used the slur -- and says he now knows better -- but he’s not about to fade into the background. White is steamed at the way the story was covered. “In the United States, every single media outlet picked that thing up and carried it -- people that won’t even cover us,” he told The Canadian Press in an interview Saturday ahead of a UFC pay-per-view event in Montreal.

“All these major media companies that pulled this blurb and threw it up everywhere, they weren’t looking out for gay people . . . They weren’t offended by it. It’s a cool quote to throw out there, get some attention, get some hits on the Web site, get some people buzzing and watching it. They could care less,” he added.

“I went directly to the people that I offended. And the reality is I have gay friends, I have gay people that I respect, that I work with and do things with. And I reached out to them and the people who could be offended by what I said, and I apologized and I told my side of the story.”

[The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) confirmed that it had been in contact with White. The anti-defamation group had called on the UFC president to issue a public apology.]

As to the rest of the media? White uses the four-letter F-bomb to describe what they can do to themselves. “Because it has nothing to do with them. They used me, that’s the way I look at it.”

WHITE IS COLORFUL -- AND OFTEN FOUL-MOUTHED -- FACE OF THE UFC

White, 39, is the face of the UFC, a colorful advocate of mixed martial arts who swears like a drunken sailor and has no internal self-edit button (Although Spike TV, the U.S. cable network that carries "The Ultimate Fighter," routinely bleeps out his profanities).

It’s part of White's appeal. Fans like his no-bull approach, because he doesn’t try to snow them and because he is as passionate as they are about mixed martial arts.

And reporters love a subject who speaks his mind.

He says exactly what he thinks on just about any topic -- which can be ill-advised at the best of times, let alone for a celebrity who walks around with a camera in his face for blogging purposes.

WEB JOURNALIST'S STORY SET OFF WHITE'S IRE

For those who missed the story, an irate White unloaded earlier this month in his video blog on longtime MMA journalist Loretta Hunt, who writes for sherdog.com, a news-oriented Web site that specializes in covering the mixed martial arts scene.

Hunt’s story -- which she stands by -- said the UFC's parent company, Zuffa, LLC, was trying to prevent managers and agents from being with fighters backstage, and that some managers believed the move was part of a larger attempt to wedge them out of business and deal directly with fighters.

White calls the story "a crock" and dropped the four-letter F-bomb 34 times to make his point in the three-minute video rant against the reporter -- including once in tandem with the six-letter anti-gay slur, which he used generically to reference an unidentified source in the story.

[White was quoted on GLAAD's Web site as saying: “And here’s a quote from a guy who wanted to remain anonymous because of fear of repercussions. Shut the [bleep] up. Any [bleep]ing guy who won’t put his name on it. First of all, whoever gave you that quote is a pussy and a [bleep]ing faggot and a [bleep]ing liar and everything else.”

WHITE APOLOGIZES FOR USING ANTI-GAY SLUR

“Not the F-word I usually use but the other F-word,” he admitted wistfully.

“I grew up saying that word, joking around with your friends. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not the type of guy that would ever hurt anybody because they’re different, no matter whether it’s their sex, race, religion or whatever it is. It’s not me, it’s not what I’m like. I don’t do that.

“Do I swear a lot? Damn right I do. When I said that word, it wasn’t directed toward anybody gay, or anybody’s sexual orientation. It’s not what it was used for. I definitely pulled the wrong swear word out of the swear toolbox.”

White apologized for the use of the gay slur in a subsequent video, and talked to both GLAAD and the national gay magazine The Advocate.

He did not apologize, however, for slagging Hunt.

RANT WAS TOUGH TO WATCH, EVEN WITHOUT SIX-LETTER F-BOMB

Take away the anti-gay slur, and the blog in question is still uncomfortable to watch. It is spiteful and nasty -- a long way from the original intention of the video blogs, an attempt to keep White connected to the fans.

And many times, they were amusing, albeit sometimes in a childish way. White’s travels, usually with another UFC exec or billionaire co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta -- backstage, in an SUV or private jet -- were kind of a Richie Rich version of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”

There was a giggling White buying Fertitta skimpy workout gear. Or grumpily feeling the effects of a bad burger. Or gleefully pointing out to the camera that Fertitta was the one hung over that morning.

Video blogs that showed White and his fighters playing dueling “Guitar Hero” on his iPhone in the back of their SUV were entertaining. And footage of White, a father of three, playing Pac-Man with his young daughter was downright cute.

But there’s bad with the good of being able to record and share. One moment of pique, with a camera too close nearby, has had consequences -- especially for a sport looking to win over mainstream support.

BEFORE INTERNET, 'YOU COULDN'T FIRE BACK AT THE MEDIA,' WHITE SAYS

White admits the sherdog.com story “set me off and it made me mad.” So he fired back, for everyone to see.

“Back in 1987, if the media wrote something about you, you were screwed,” he said. “You had no voice, you couldn’t say anything back. Well now with the Internet, you can. You can come back. Yeah, did I go a little over the top? Absolutely, but that’s me. I am over the top and I was so pissed off about it. . .”

Some thought he also went too far in a blog last year, when he seemed to delight in the demise of a rival MMA organization. He takes things very personally.

“There’s another story that I read yesterday in a fight magazine, on my way here, that is such a crock of [bleep], it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I read this stuff and it’s like these guys make this stuff up. But I’ve got to stop getting so fired up about the small stuff like that.”

He admits it’s hard advice to follow.

“It is. Because we work hard. Man, we work hard at building this sport. We work hard at having great relationships with the fighters. To see people write B.S., it’s crazy.”

White has his detractors, but also many supporters. While the UFC can be cutthroat and cheap to fledgling fighters, managers talk about how it will look after fighters down on their luck or in need of help. Big bonus cheques are awarded backstage, away from the prying eyes of the media.

Reward the UFC and the UFC will reward you right back.

The blog brouhaha came just weeks after the Armed Forces Foundation honored White and the UFC in Washington, D.C., with the Sheldon Adelson Patriot Award for humanitarianism in industry for “raising money and awareness for research and development in the field of traumatic brain injury” in their support of U.S. troops.

White may run a billion-dollar business, but he will stand and talk MMA with journalists until there are no more questions, even while security and aides fidget. And he will do the same with fans.

In person, he is hard to dislike. But his obvious passion can be a double-edged sword.

“I’m still on the fence with the whole blog thing,” he said. “I have a blog right now that we shot Monday and now we’re all sitting around wondering if this is too controversial.”

“I’m me, I’m who I am. That’s not going to change, you know. Maybe who I am is too much, too much for the real world,” he added with a chuckle. “But I’m not going to deal with all the B.S.

“I have enough things to do every day without dealing with people twisting what I said. To deal with what I dealt with last week, it takes a whole week off my plate when I should have been dealing with other stuff -- stuff that matters, real work.”

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Volume IV, Number 31
Special Report Copyright 2009, The Canadian Press, Ltd.
The 'Skeeter Bites Report Copyright 2009, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.







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