Growing calls for Dana White to be sacked, step down as UFC President, video slapping his wife at party, reaction

UFC

There are growing calls for Dana White to be sacked as UFC president after shocking footage emerged of him slapping his wife.

Earlier this week, TMZ published a video showing White and his wife Anne having a physical fight at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico.

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Video of the incident showed White leaning down to say something to his wife.

She responded by slapping him in the face, and he retaliated, slapping her twice. The two were quickly separated.

In an apology, White said he was “embarrassed” by the slap, adding he and wife had been drinking and their biggest concern was their three children.

In 2014, White described domestic violence as a career-ender in UFC.

“There’s one thing that you never bounce back from and that’s putting your hands on a woman,” he said at the time.

“Been that way in the UFC since we started here. You don’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman.”

White’s own words could come back to bite him and there are mounting calls for the 53-year-old to resign or for the UFC, or its parent company Endeavor, to fire him.

White has been president of the UFC since taking over the promotion back in 2001.

Endeavour’s share price has dropped more than five per cent since the video of White’s slap surfaced.

The start of White’s new promotion, “Power Slap League”, consisting of two fighters slapping each other in the face with timed turns until one emerged victorious, has been delayed until January 18.

In a column for USA Today Andy Desbitt said: “It’s time for the UFC owners at Endeavor to listen to White’s words and show him the door. As he said, nobody bounces back from putting his hands on a woman, and rightfully so.

“White does deserve something for this – a severe punishment. Imagine if any other commissioner in sports was seen on video hitting their wife? This news would be everywhere and they would be out of a job in a heartbeat.

“White isn’t out of a job. In fact, he has a new venture starting up this month – the Power Slap league, which is a league that will have people slapping each other in the face as hard as they can. For real.

“White can’t be the face of that moving forward and he can’t be the face of the UFC anymore, either. You just can’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman.”

ESPN is the exclusive rightsholder of UFC and a former ESPN talent Dan Le Batard doubted the network would hold cover White’s slap in depth because they are the broadcast partner of UFC.

Le Batard said: “Like who is there to punish him? If it happened with (NFL commissioner Roger) Goodell or an owner, do you imagine that it would be quiet? Because I don’t.

“I am curious how ESPN is going to cover the news of Dana White and video of him slapping his wife.

“If it had been Roger Goodell or an owner of an NFL, I imagine it would be covered with a great deal of zeal.

“This doesn’t stay in the news stream unless there’s media pressure. There needs to be a media outrage about this in order for this to have consequences.

“They’re (ESPN) the worldwide leader in sports and they do tend to help with how this stuff happens. They’re compromised here by a business interest. I don’t believe there will be consequences for this.

“He’s (White) so powerful, so independent and can even control to a degree the media monster with which he has a partnership. I don’t know what the consequences will be to you slapping your wife at a party.”

ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith walked a verbal tightrope when he addressed the slap on a broadcast.

“We have to maintain consistency in pointing out — you do not put your hands on a woman if you are a man. You do not do it,” Smith said.

“Dana White knows that and all I can say is he has spoken out on men who put their hands on women before, and whatever punishment you would exact under these circumstances to somebody else is what he should apply to himself.”

“He’s a friend. I love the guy personally. So this is a very hard subject for me. We talk all the time. We certainly connected, briefly, since this happened.

“He knew there’s no way on Earth that I wasn’t going to talk about it. My heart goes out to his family because this is a very, very embarrassing situation.

“He says it has never, ever happened before. He is completely ashamed and utterly disgusted with himself that he finds himself in this situation where he would have ever done such a thing to a woman he’s been married to for 30 years, who’s the mother of his three children, and he makes no excuses for it.

“I think it’s important to point that out. I also think it’s important to point out that she validates what he asserts, that it’s never happened before, that it was completely out of character.”

Many commentators believe White will likely escape significant punishment because of his influence within MMA circles.

Damian Reilly wrote for The Spectator: “The calls for his removal from post have so far been astonishingly muted – the result surely of the power White wields over the journalists and commentators who depend on his goodwill for access to the UFC’s stars.

“It’s ludicrous now to countenance the idea that White won’t have to resign, or be fired.

“There is simply no way the head of a multi-billion dollar organisation, that’s entire business model is predicated on the ideal of carefully regulated and controlled violence, can remain in post when so evidently he is unable either to regulate or control his own violent urges.

“It is not acceptable to be the head of an organisation that glamorises violence and at the same time be seen to hit women. White must go.”

MMA Fighting’s Simon Samano said: “White deserves to lose his job. In fact, he should probably resign.

“If this was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or NBA commissioner Adam Silver or MLB commissioner Rob Manfred we were talking about, that’s almost certainly how it would play out.

“But since this is MMA, well, I guess a certain level of tolerance for unsanctioned violence outside the cage should be expected – even when it’s a man roughing up a woman. Pathetic.

“If Dana White isn’t severely punished for slapping his wife, what are we even doing?”

Sports editor Michael David Smith tweeted: “Too many rich people are making too much money off the UFC for them to fire Dana White.

“No one even knows if Slap Fighting is going to make anyone any money so if they have to throw that away they won’t care.”

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