In many ways, the UFC is trying to become more like the bigger sports leagues such as the NBA or the NFL. That said, the UFC’s president, Dana White, is nothing like the commissioners in other sports leagues. Here’s a look at what Dana White recently said about how he intends to handle his fighters.
Colby Covington’s racist statements after his fight
As ESPN reported, Colby Covington recently fought and defeated the former champ, Tyron Woodley. Covington has never been the champ, but he did get a title shot last year. He fought the champ Kamaru Usman and Usman was able to knock Covington out in the fifth and final round.
After beating Woodley, Covington had a chance to talk to Usman. Covington obviously wanted another title shot against Usman, and he tried to make a case for a rematch by launching a tirade against the current champ.
According to ESPN, during this tirade, Covington said many things, and one of those things including asking Usman if he had received a call from his “little tribe” using “smoke signals.”
Usman is from Nigeria, and many people labeled Covington’s statements as racist. According to ESPN, Israel Adesanya, who’s also Nigerian, said, “This guy has directly insulted my culture, my brother and many other cultures.” Other UFC fighters, including Sijara Eubanks and Hakeem Dawodu, also blasted Covington’s statements as racist.
How Dana White responded to this
While many people, including UFC fighters, condemned Covington’s racist statement, White was more ambivalent about it. White told reporters that he obviously thought that racism is wrong, but at the same time, he also said that he wasn’t going to censor those kinds of statements.
“These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs. We don’t muzzle anybody here,” White said, according to ESPN. That said, ESPN isn’t sure if White knew about the racist remarks that Covington had said during his verbal confrontation with Usman.
Other UFC fighters, including Eubanks, have confirmed White’s stance on the issue. She said, according to ESPN, “They have never muzzled us as fighters.”
However, not all UFC fighters were on board with White’s statement. According to ESPN, Dawodu said that the UFC “was almost worried” about his walkout song. Dawodu didn’t think that it was right that fighters like Covington could say racist things but the UFC was more worried more about a walkout song.
That said, Adesanya is more ambivalent about it, too. He said, “I don’t really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw, so I don’t really care.”
Is Dana White’s stance a good or bad thing?
Eubanks thought that it was generally a good thing that the UFC didn’t muzzle its fighters. According to ESPN, she said, “If you want to talk, if you don’t want to talk, if you want to be political, if you don’t want to be political, I have to appreciate the company lets us say what we want.”
However, what Dawodu mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg. For a long time now, the UFC has been trying to make itself seem more professional. One of the biggest moves it’s made in that direction has been by partnering up with Reebok.
In the past, UFC fighters were free to display their sponsors on their fight attire. However, by partnering up with Reebok, their fight attire became more uniform and professional.
There’s nothing professional about letting a fighter say racist things. Other sports leagues have to deal with that issue too, but they generally deal with it by condemning those racist statements at the very least. By not doing that, the UFC may be taking a step backwards in terms of being a professional sport.