Brendan Schaub drew a line in the sand with UFC President Dana White last Thursday in what might have been the most visceral social media clap-back of the year. A minor disagreement quickly escalated into all-out war between the UFC boss and former UFC heavyweight.
It wasn’t the first time a former or current employee has raked White through the coals publically, and if history has taught us anything, it won’t be the last, either.
Unlike other prominent sports figureheads, White’s willingness to speak openly in the spotlight, rather than quietly pulling the strings from behind the curtains, has led to some truly enlightening and unique exchanges.
It’s no wonder why he leaves his tie at home and keeps the top of his shirt unbuttoned because he is arguably the most unbuttoned president in modern-day sports.
And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
White is also the most accessible president in sports with the fortitude to give actual opinions on relevant subject matters. Granted, those opinions have landed him in hot water on more than one occasion with fighters, but they have also delivered an open, and often underappreciated, line of communication to the top of the corporate food chain for MMA fans.
However, telling it like it is does have consequences, and White has grown accustomed to public squabbles with fighters, ranging anywhere from playful banter to actual fight challenges.
Here are five fighters that have publicly beefed with White over the years.
The historic feud between White and MMA legend Tito Ortiz was the real-life version of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon.
Ortiz was the rebellious athlete that got away with more than one man should, and White was the patient businessman that preferred public humiliation over an outright firing.
The two most iconic moments of this feud was White accepting a boxing match with the former light heavyweight champion, and Ortiz showing up to the UFC 84 weigh-ins wearing a t-shirt with the emboldened words “Dana White is my bitch” written on it.
A mutually beneficial working relationship was the only thing keeping White and Ortiz in business together for so long.
Only five of Ortiz’s 32 professional bouts have occurred outside the Octagon.
Maybe Ortiz can return to the UFC and give fans the boxing match that was promised over a decade ago, before riding off into the sunset permanently. Until then, we’ll have to settle for stories of the infamous plane fight that unfolded between the two after the UFC Hall of Famer allegedly slapped a neck crank on White.
“I was tapping, and he didn’t stop,” said White, during an appearance on Conan, via MMAJunkie. “You can seriously hurt somebody in a neck crank, especially as big and strong as Tito is. So I just started blasting him in the ribs – started punching him in the ribs – and when he let go, [I] just jumped up, and it was just a full blown fistfight in the plane.”
Like Ortiz, Frank Shamrock is another fighter that would have loved to go a few rounds with the boss.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion is a legend in every sense of the word, but due to his longstanding beef with White, he has been deliberately snubbed from a UFC Hall of Fame induction.
Even Ortiz was eventually allowed Hall of Fame entry.
Shamrock left the UFC as the reigning champion back in 1999, which appears to be the tipping point of the storied feud. Both men have been going at it ever since, exchanging ugly pleasantries back and forth in the media.
Shamrock has questioned the validity of the UFC Hall of Fame, while also calling White a “total douchebag and a bully” and claiming he has “no breath for him.” Likewise, White has also called Shamrock a “douchebag” and a “liar.”
“I can’t ever see that happening,” White said back in 2014, when asked about a potential reconciliation with Shamrock. “At the end of the day, Frank Shamrock and I never really had a relationship, whereas [his brother] Ken [Shamrock] and I did. Frank and I never had a relationship. He’s too far off the reservation.”
There may be no extinguishing the raging flames of a feud that has been burning for nearly 20 years.
Business was great when Wanderlei Silva returned to the UFC to do unspeakable things to Chuck Liddell, but it eventually snowballed into the former Pride middleweight champion publicly accusing the organization of underpaying fighters.
Then there was that weird, fleeing drug testing incident, which initially resulted in Silva receiving a lifetime ban and $70,000 fine from the Nevada Athletic Commission.
“So Silva says everybody’s getting rich except the fighters,” White told Combate back in 2014, via MMAFighting. “What does Wanderlei considers rich? $9.7 million isn’t rich? A lot of people would consider that rich. Let me say you what: Wanderlei Silva has fought six times in the last five years. He’s fought six times in five years. If being overworked is fighting one time a year, I don’t know what to tell you.”
The entire ordeal seems to be water under the bridge now that Silva has moved on with his career in Bellator, and White is no longer being subjected to black-and-white diatribes of everything that is wrong with the UFC.
Perhaps Silva will even have a place in the UFC Hall of Fame someday.
Ben Askren could have been the best fighter in the world, but his ongoing beef with White kept him out of the UFC’s mainstream spotlight. From strictly a hardcore fan’s perspective, the inability for the two sides to co-exist is without question one of the biggest letdowns in MMA history.
Askren, a former Olympian and two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion, won the Bellator and ONE welterweight titles before retiring undefeated, leaving fans to always wonder how he would have fared in the Octagon.
“In all honesty, I think if you put a 15-man tournament together, I think I could be the best fighter in the world right now,” Askren told MMAjunkie in 2013. “And now, I’m not going to get a chance to prove that because one bald-headed fat man chooses not to let me in.”
The entire feud stemmed from a fiery Twitter exchange in 2012 after Askren called out White for comments made regarding the difficulties of random drug testing.
The USOC random tests Olympic athletes in all sports. Dana saying testing his fighters would be impossible is a bold faced lie.
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) April 16, 2012
— Dana White (@danawhite) April 16, 2012
Everything has obviously changed with the UFC adopting USADA’s guidelines for more stringent testing—well, everything but the unresolved beef between Askren and White.
Schaub might be worse off with White than Shamrock and Askren combined after his explosive commentary over the last week.
Following The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, the former UFC heavyweight star gave some insight on the difficulties of a traditional kickboxer and boxer transitioning over to MMA. His comments, unsurprisingly, caught the attention of up-and-coming middleweight phenom Israel Adesanya, who won a unanimous decision over Brad Tavares on the same card.
The former kickboxer assumed Schaub was referring to him and took those assumptions to social media, where White dropped the first bomb in the eventual, all-out verbal warfare.
Dana White blasted Schaub in the comments, Schaub responded then backtracked about the video. pic.twitter.com/eiaZ4RhYc9
— Justin Golightly (@SecretMovesMMA) July 12, 2018
White then followed up by insisting Schaub was merely a product of Joe Rogan’s success. Schaub could have gone away quietly, but he did White one better by posting a succinct and jaw-dropping response to stir the masses.
— Brendan Schaub (@BrendanSchaub) July 12, 2018
White has yet to respond.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/18/2018