The UFC’s Bad Guys: Former Champs Who Beef With Dana And The UFC
It’s no secret or surprise that Dana White has stirred up his fair share of controversy during his years as UFC president. And although there are countless people that he has had disagreements with its the ex-champs of the organization that seem to stand out amongst the crowd. The most infamous spat is most likely the legendary beef between White and UFC Hall of Fame inductee and former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. But there have been many other champions over the years that have exchanged words with Dana (more likely listened to him verbally assault them) and have bad blood with their ex-boss.
The UFC as well as the Fertitta brothers, namely CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, have never really gotten caught up in the controversy. It always seems to be White himself that engages in these arguments with his employees. Granted some of the occasions call for the athlete to be reprimanded, but most of the disagreements are simply contract issues and things that could seemly be solved if White would just show a little humility.
As more controversy surfaces with ex-UFC welterweight king Georges St-Pierre vacating his title, and saying that UFC’s ‘overly lenient’ PED policy is to blame, it seems that even the former poster boy has had a falling out with White.
Let’s get things started with the most recent of former champions that have had a falling out with White. Georges is one of, if not the most, respected champion that has ever graced the sport, however as of late he has had some less than kind words to say about his former employer and the way they run business.
Georges has apparently had issues with the way the UFC handles PED (performance enhancing drug) testing for some time now, and blames the company’s lack of support for stricter drug testing regulations as one of the biggest reasons he vacated the title and walked away from the sport.
“It bothered me enormously,” St-Pierre said during an interview in Montreal. “That’s one of the reasons why I stopped fighting. Not really to teach them a lesson, because that would also punish me. I wanted to do something for the sport. I love the sport. I see the direction it’s going, and I don’t think it makes any sense. This is stupid.”
During a media scrum posted on RDS.ca Georges was very open about the issue:
“I tried to do something to change the sport,” he said. “Unfortunately, there were other people, for different reasons, maybe for money, in fear of losing money, because if you canceled the fight because someone tested positive there are millions of dollars (lost). Also, the sport’s image … If you start testing everyone, how many will get caught? I don’t want to say in public because I don’t want to accuse anyone, but the sport’s image will be hurt… Don’t forget, I have internal information. I’m an athlete. I know what goes on, so that disappointed me greatly.”
According to Dana, Georges asked for additional PED testing to prove not that his opponent at the time, Johnny Hendricks, was on drugs, but instead to uphold the fact that he had not now, nor ever, taken performance enhancing drugs. Dana of course states that this is a no brainer and that he knew that GSP had never done drugs. He referred to the request for additional drug testing as “a little weird” and holds strong his opinion that there is nothing lenient about they way they drug test the fighters.
Georges has also voiced his opinion that the UFC is becoming a ‘monopoly’ and holds that largely to blame for fighters not being able to speak their mind in fear of penalty.
“There’s one organization that has a monopoly, so the fighters don’t have much power. They can’t really talk because if one says what he thinks, he will get punished,” he said at a media scrum. “It disappointed me. You know that there are things I can’t say. I’m holding back. I’m a public person….”
And though GSP has made comments about returning to the sport obvious things have to change in order for that to happen.
“No wants to talk about (drugs in MMA), but I think we need to talk about it. It’s a problem.”
Like something out of professional wrestling, a heated relationship between UFC president Dana White and former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz has taken the spotlight in terms of Dana’s biggest employee rival during nearly the entirety of the promotions early years. With Dana being Ortiz’s former manager and friend their beef has had hints of professional strife and personal differences throughout their relationship which simply added fuel to the fire. Albeit, this has created a rather entertaining dynamic for fight fans throughout the years.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the feud sprouted, but its very clear that it has never really ended. With Ortiz leaving the UFC promotion and signing with Bellator MMA last year it has given him even more freedom to speak his mind about his former employer. Ortiz has even gone as far as to refer to their treatment in the UFC as “slavery”. Of course Tito tends to complain a bit more than others, but when you look at how much money has been made by Dana White compared to Ortiz, its not that hard to see why he would feel adverse feelings about his earnings.
“I thought slavery was over a long time ago,” said Ortiz during an interview with SI Now. When discussing his decision to go to Bellator Otiz said, “The deal with Bellator made sense to me,” said Ortiz “And it’ll make sense to a lot of other fighters that are in the UFC who will make the crossover. It’s just a matter of time. You can only be bullied for so long. It’s time to start pushing back.”
Obviously, the grudge is still holding strong, if not growing stronger. Ortiz also made some remarks on ESPN regarding his distaste for the way that Dana conducts business and how that persuaded him further to join Bellator.
“Business is business and he holds grudges. He gets too personal on things. That’s his business. They are billionaires because that’s a business. The brand of Tito Ortiz, I’m a business. What I do is fight and support my family as every other American in the United States… Billionaires don’t make billionaires by getting taken advantage of. I will no longer be taken advantage of. Bellator has my back and they treat us right. Theytreat us with respect, the way we’re supposed to be treated as fighters and the fans need to see that. There’s no propaganda in them. They don’t badmouth the way Dana and the UFC used it against me. Lorenzo Fretita always treated me really good, but Dana just holds grudges. It is what it is. I washed my hands. I walked away from it. Now it’s time to do something new, something bigger and better.”
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson:
Granted, Dana was legitimate to be angry at Rampage after his stunt following his loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86. Rampage, reportedly, hit a vehicle and then led police into a high speed chase throughout Newport Beach, CA.
That squabble was soon squashed however, as Jackson was back into rankings in his respected weight class soon after. But the drama didn’t end between the two. And as the years went by Jackson became less and less tolerant of the way he was being treated. Jackson eventually left the UFC and signed with Bellator MMA, and with a bout with Tito Ortiz in the making the media was all over the two to get the scoop about Dana from the mouths of two of the promotions biggest stars.
During a sit down with ESPN Rampage had some things to say about how he’s been treated as a fighter, and how Dana White and he are no longer on the best terms.
“Well you know, I’ve been fighting for a long time and I felt like I’ve done a lot for this sport and I just wanted to be treated with a little respect. I’ve had some bad injuries lately and I’ve been forced to fight. And even though I’ve been forced to fight and I still show up, a lot of fighters pull out when they get injuries, I still go in and I show up and I fight. If I don’t get the outcome that’spositive or if I lose, I get ridiculed and stuff like that. You shouldn’t treat a professional athlete that way. When you do this sport, somebody’s gotta win and somebody’s gotta lose. We’re the ones who have to sleep with that. It haunts you when you lose, especially to a guy you thought you should have beat easily or something like that. If you’re cool with (Dana), you’re cool with him. If you’re not, you’re not. I don’t even think about Dana. He’s the last thing that comes to my mind. There’s been a lot of crazy stuff being said since I made the announcement I was moving to Bellator. If I see him I’ll just keep walking. Try to stay positive.”
Once a very dominating force in the heavyweight division of the UFC Tim Sylvia saw his career climb and fall faster than most. Dana pulled no punches against Sylvia after he left the UFC and was demolished in other MMA promotions and then had aspirations to return to the UFC.
Dana White was quick to laugh about Sylvia’s return:
“Are you kidding me? He seriously wants to return to the UFC? He hasn’t won a fight in years and when he did he usually put everyone to sleep. The only time he’s in an exciting fight is when he’s getting his fucking ass handed to him,” White said. “Look, he just got beat by a near 50-year old in under 10 fucking seconds. How do you expect to be taken seriously after that? He just made MMA look like a complete joke. If he has any hopes of ending his career in the UFC he will have to go on The Ultimate Fighter. There’s no other way he’s getting in.”
Although we have seen Dana kick other fighters, and even champs, out of the UFC we rarely see him so honest about his true feelings toward an ex-champ. White is usually a bit more eloquent with his insults, but saying Sylvia “made MMA look like a complete joke.” is a bit harsh.
Sylvia was quick to counter and voice how insulted he felt in this interview:
“Absolutely (it hurts). It’s very irritating. He never said that when I was there. I thought I had a great relationship with everybody in the UFC. It is hurtful. I busted my ass for years in his fights to become champion, not once, but twice…it’s not my fault the UFC didn’t bring in better guys to the division when I was there. That’s got nothing to do with me. I fought who they put in front of me. I never declined anybody.”
“I’m sick and tired of watching a bunch of bums fight in the UFC. Guys that I know I can beat… They told [manager Monte Cox], ‘Tim needs to keep winning. Keep putting wins together.’ I’ve done that and nothing happened. And there are guys in there I think are absolutely horrible…Yeah, I’ve got an attitude about it. I’m tired of it. I’ve got to make my own destiny.”
Dana White has aimed some of his harshest comments toward former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. Although White has a point considering Barnett has failed drug screening after drug screening, the way that White comes off is as if Barnett has insulted him personally.
“(Barnett) could really give a shit about anybody else but himself,” White said in 2010 during a media scrum. “And that’s why Josh Barnett isn’t, and never will be, in the UFC. This isn’t the kind of guy that I respect or want to do business with.”
Josh fired back on Ariel Helwani’s “The MMA Hour” when he said “(Dana’s a) hindrance, he’s unnecessary” when it comes to the fight itself.
Josh has obviously been back to the UFC and recently lost to Travis Browne via KO (elbows) at UFC 168. But the tension and distrust between he and White is still very evident.
Yet another long time grudge is the between Dana White and the very first UFC light heavyweight champion Frank Shamrock. After Frank became the inaugural UFC 205-pound champion he felt that his time at the top had come to an end considering, in his opinion, that there were no longer any worthy opponents. Frank spent some time as a commentator for the company, but soon after tensions started to rise between he and Dana and he resigned.
Now the two are not even on speaking terms, still talking smack about each other whenever the opportunity presents itself. Frank went on “The MMA Hour” and bad mouthed White even went as far as to say that White is “the reason MMA isn’t sanctioned in New York.”
Adopted brother to Frank Shamrock, Ken and Dana don’t exactly have the best relationship either. During an interview, Ken was not shy about speaking his mind regarding White.
“I’m not afraid to speak up,” said Ken. “That’s the reason why Dana and I are on the outs, because he lied to me.”
Most of Ken’s concerns involved how White and the UFC control the wages going toward the athletes. A common subject that the athletes in the UFC seem to have issues wish.
“(Dana) disrespects people whenever he feels like, has absolutely no morals… Ask his wife. Ask his mother. I mean, how many people have their mother turn their back on them?
I want everyone to understand that I’m not hating on Dana. Somewhere along the line, he’s going to have to answer for what he does, and I feel bad for him. I’ve gone through some times where I wasn’t doing the right things, and I was brought to my knees. It hurts, and I don’t wish that on anyone. At the same time, I can’t sit back, because I’m one of those people that has to speak my mind.”
Last, but certainly not least, on the list of former champs to have beef with Dana White is one of the most famous fighters to have ever graced the Octagon, Randy “The Natural” Couture. After his defeat of Gabriel Gonzago back at UFC 74 Couture was ready to pack his bags and leave the UFC for good when he caught wind that he was being, as he saw it, screwed out of some big bucks. Something that has become a trend of the UFC’s.
Couture discovered that Chuck Liddell had been awarded more money in his last two fights, both losses, than Couture in his last two fights, both victories. Couture eventually left the organization in search of better treatment within Bellator MMA.
This of course hit a cord with White who, in his signature style, began to flip out on one of his most notable and beloved employees. Reportedly, White went as far as to even say that Couture “stops being a man when his big toes step out of the cage” and even more childish, refuses to allow Randy to corner his son Ryan Couture in any bout he may have in the UFC.
Randy was calm and collected when he took time with Ariel Helwani’s “The MMA Hour” saying:
“I don’t take any of that personal. I don’t really tune into the underground and all that other stuff. People come to me and they say, ‘Oh, he said this and he said that.’ I don’t care; I know what the truth is. I know how I have treated people, how I tried to treat them. And yeah, fighting with them to get a fair shake and be told the truth and, it’s been a struggle all along, from ancillary rights down the line. I don’t take any of that personal. I don’t really tune into it. In the day-to-day running of my life, it’s a small thing. But, when you start talking about somebody’s kids and their family, yeah, you’re crossing the line. I don’t think he would like it if I did those sorts of things to him. I know his wife, I know his kids. He’s got my sons fate in his hands in some way here. With Ryan competing and not allowing me to continue to progress and work with my son in his fight career is ridiculous and that bothers me. It bothers me that he could affect my son’s livelihood. My son has earned his spot. Ryan has done the work, he has the passion for the sport and he’s doing all of the right things. So for him to be hindered and hampered by Dana and Dana’s feelings towards me, it isn’t fair and that bothers me.”
After building this list of former champions that have had negative run ins with the UFC president what stands out mostly to me is the fact that Dana White can sometimes (a lot of the time) be a child. I have always liked his brashness and I’ve always felt like he was honest and real with the fighters. However, what I’ve learned is that White is more concerned with his own greed and well being than he has ever been of the well being of his employees. He is a bully and a brute that is never willing to renegotiate and, in a sense, feels like the fighters should be grateful to be in the UFC at all. I’ve got news for Dana, its give and take. Sure, he is the president of the company and without him and the Fertitta brothers the UFC might not even exist right now, but without the fighters it definitely wouldn’t.