UFC president Dana White lambasted a report from The New York Times’ Kevin Draper that alleged his promotion had played fast and loose with the coronavirus precautions it promised to the state of Florida so it could begin holding events, but, tellingly, didn’t dispute the report’s accuracy.
The report, published Tuesday with the headline “U.F.C.’s Coronavirus Plan Is Careful. Its Enforcement Has Been Spotty,” detailed a number of ways in which the UFC visibly flouted its own coronavirus plan, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.
Among the biggest reported violations of the plan was commentator Joe Rogan’s insistence upon face-to-face interviews and handshakes with fighters in the Octagon rather than holding interviews via headset from a distance.
Other violations included White himself not wearing gloves and a mask, required personnel arriving later than required for testing and fighters making physical contact during weigh-ins. The latter notably occurred hours before fighter Ronaldo Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for the coronavirus.
Still, White declared the event a success and model for how sports leagues can safely return to action, and even received kudos from his friend President Donald Trump on finding a way to get live sports back on television.
Now, White is going after a reporter who explained how the UFC ignored many of the promises it made to get Florida to approve its return to action.
Dana White’s profane rant against New York Times reporter
During a post-fight news conference on Wednesday, White had some harsh words for Draper.
Warning, the following video contains NSFW language.
A transcript, from MMA Junkie:
“F*ck that guy. F*ck that guy,” White said during the post-fight news conference, which MMA Junkie attended. “You know what happened with that guy? That guy who’s never covered the sport was writing a story about Endeavor (UFC’s parent company) and then the UFC was one of the Endeavor … you know. And what happened when this guy and this paper covered the UFC – when they’ve never covered it before? What do you think happened?
“This f*cking story was huge. They did killer traffic. Now they’re writing stories, three a week, and they’re posting live results. I don’t care what this guy thinks or what he has to say, what he writes. Good for him, he’s pulling traffic.”
You will notice White does not dispute the Times’ characterization of what his promotion promised Florida and what it ended up doing, just Draper’s credentials covering mixed martial arts.
White was also asked what repercussions the UFC could face due to the article. His answer:
“I don’t give a f---,” White said. “Don’t give a f---.”
White probably doesn’t have much reason to be worried. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been aggressive in trying to lure sports into his state, deeming them essential business even as the state continues to see hundreds of new coronavirus cases per day.
The state is even allowing an AAU volleyball tournament that could bring in 15,000 people in June. Lip service has been paid about the importance of social distancing precautions, but the state has stayed quiet even as the UFC nationally broadcasts its own violations.
Meanwhile, Draper doesn’t seem to be sweating White’s attacks on him:
The UFC remains on track to hold its third event in a week with Saturday’s “UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Harris.”
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