Dana White’s threat to fire Anderson Silva from the UFC in the wake of UFC 112 went way over the top. Period and close quotes. It doesn’t matter that Dana may have been riffing off Anderson Silva’s post-fight apology. The bottom line is that there is a difference between Anderson saying that he is sorry for not putting on the best show for fans and Dana White saying he will fire or to use Dana’s phrase “cut him” if he ever fights like that again. Say what Darth?
(If the YouTube clip below has transmigrated to regions unknown, please Google it using the search term: Dana White threatens to fire Anderson Silva on Jim Rome Show.)
We at Cyberaxis think White may have been carried away by a moment here (see the video above); the locker-room rah-rah-chest-thumpin’ with Jim Rome. But then Jim Rome is a talking head who riffs off of his brain stem and thrives on this kind of s*it; this rabble rousing. Dana White should have known that. The end result of the cave-banging? Dana trying to show off the size of his spiked club – the one he hunts wooly-mastodons with – instead of articulating an a well thought out position. Foreign territory? Well, it shouldn’t because Dana’s statement really amounted to management by public statement which is ill-suited for the organization the UFC has evolved into nationally and internationally. Testosterone-driven dialogue is rarely good except on the gridiron or in jock- infested locker rooms.
The 64 million dollar question is whether Dana White will adapt to the pressure for the UFC to become more buttoned-down or will he get chastised by circumstance? Place your bet on the latter because as hard as it may be to imagine at this point, the UFC (and MMA of which it is emblematic in compressed space-time) is bigger than the face of its enterprising lights. Translation: The UFC and MMA are bigger than Dana White – a truism to some, but not all – especially when one is fixated on the moment and its momentary distortions. The Fertittas, or other pretenders to the MMA throne, are not stay in the shadows forever.
Bottomline, the threatening tack Dana White took with Silva is rarely a winning gambit – at the very least not in situations as nuanced as Anderson Silva’s. (And while mulling that, never forget that we are talking about an athlete who, pound for pound, has been considered the greatest fighter on the face of the earth. Sure Silva, like any other fighter, has his weaknesses, but they pale in comparison to his brilliance; his record. ) Dana White’s threatening tack with Silva was just plain wrong besides being unenforceable except in extremis. Yes the Paul Daley sucker punching of Jeff Koscheck met that extremis criteria – but one couldn’t help but think that Dana White had thrown out the baby with the bathwater even on that one. Remember the art of proportional response? Proportional retribution? It’s what the real big boys thrive on by pragmatic dictate.
The Dana Will Be Dana Tip: The fit Dana threw following Anderson Silva’s octagonal antics was vintage Dana and par for the course as far as that went. It may have been justified as far as that went and certainly did nothing to take away flavor from an event that was already brimming with it right from Silva’s Oscar winning dance around fellow Brazilian, Demian Maia to Silva’s palpably half-hearted mea culpa.
Fans cheered Darth Dana when he went postal on Silva for his dance and attendant refusal to engage. That was Dana’s realm and ipso facto his right. However there is a difference between Dana saying on camera that he was as mad as hell and wasn’t gonna take it anymore more, and drawing a line in the sand and daring a fighter of Anderson Silva’s stature to cross it. The latter is the figurative equivalent of blowing one’s wad in front of cameras. It smacks of posturing that one associates mostly with schoolyard fights.
Notice that that posturing met with minimal cheers from UFC fighters exactly because it clearly crossed a line, besides showing Dana up as someone who had not internalized the art of proportional response and retribution; a trait that is management 101 in organizations that have any meaningful pretensions to the throne of the big leagues. A good measure of power is the restraint that he who has it demonstrates in its exercise. Dana White’s threat to fire Anderson fell well below that standard.
At this p0int in the story of the UFC, Dana should be concerned about not adding to the missteps he has already taken. Sure, he has been the defining figure of the UFC’s ascendance in MMA, but there is always a danger of reaching a fork in the road and veering to the wrong one. Remember boxing? There is a real lesson beyond what Dana may be putting in front of you. Any fraying at the edges of an organization that (with the exception of the Jackson-B.A. Baracus spat and Dan Henderson resignation) runs like an increasingly well-oiled machine, doesn’t help the cause. Remember the Randy Couture affair? Players, cognizant of the stakes involved and the dangers of untrammeled power, will not be comfortable with Dana drawing lines in the sand the way he did with Anderson Silva. If Silva is Spartacus, guess who else is Spartacus?
Perchance you have the time to read the rest of this article, here are some of the reasons Dana White’s position with Anderson Silva is problematic:
The Art & The Artistry: When it comes to the performance of MMA art in the octagon, Anderson Silva Sui Generis should be left alone. Dana White should not even be in the neighborhood where this stuff goes takes place. Despite his glistening dome, Dana White is a suit – and that means NOT A FIGHTER. Someone ought to put it out there in fluorescent braille.
Anderson’s clowning was clearly entertaining and even excusable, even though his apparent reluctance to engage may not have been. (But what if Silva had been dog tired and just trying to psyche out his opponent via clowning?) There is MMA science (the nuts and bolts of the sport) and there is MMA art (the soul that brings it closer to its performance kith and kin) and then there are rules. Anderson Silva technically broke no rules. Let’s get that very clear. The bloggers who argue that the Nevada Athletic commission in similar situations could have possibly cited Anderson for lack of optimal engagement, were (like Him Rome) just riffing off their brain stem and trying to foment a pseudo-scandal where none existed. If the case was arbitrated, Silva crucifiers would clearly have a hard time proving that he actually broke the rules. Psyching out one’s opponent is not against the rules.
Downside: If Dana wants to dabble in the minutiae of how fighters deport themselves in the ring, where is he gonna stop? Are head-games gonna be allowed? How about a little trash talking before and during the fight? Can a fighter say something about an opponent’s mama or the way he hits? It’s taunting right? The subject devolves into silly minutiae on short order without the fries. You get the point.
Headspace & Headgames: No fighter should be be placed in the position that Anderson Silva was post UFC 112 – unless the fighter himself is totally OK with it. People will argue that Silva disrespected the sport with his performance, but we challenge you to find unanimity among the pros and commentators of the sport. Interesting Tid-bit: There is anecdotal evidence that Anderson Silva may have actually stone-walled Dana on this one because when Dana was asked how Anderson Silva had responded to his complaints in their reported 45 minute talk, Dana wasn’t clear about how well his spiel had been received by Silva. “We will see how well I got through to him in his next fight”(paraphrased) was all White would say.
If he thinks he can just invade Anderson Silva’s head space willy-nilly, then Dana has got a thing or two coming. That tack plays poorly to Anderson’s child nor adult – if one wants to break it down Eric Berne/transactional analysis style.
UFC & Black House (The Other Elephant In The Room): The people in-the-know see the hypocrisy of trying to crucify Silva when Dana should have been crucifying himself for not finding an opponent worthy of Silva’s butt eons ago. Oh yeah, he tried to get Vitor Belfort who happened to be a Black House compadre at the time. See how well that went down at the time. People who go back a tad are justified in asking just how enthused these goombahs were about fighting each other back in the day. Uhhm, lets see – the planned Belfort/Silva fight was postponed on three different occasions for about the same reason – injury or the need to recover from injury or surgery:
UFC 108 – 1/2/10 – postponement of the fight due to Silva’s lack of recovery from an surgery.
UFC 109 – 2/6/10 – postponement of the fight due to Silva’s lack of healing progress.
UFC 112 – 4/10/10 – Postponement of the fight due to Belfort’s own injury (Oi vei)
How about Dana tackling THAT problem, or what it appears to be – and even better still, going beyond it to find someone who can “bring it” to Silva the way Machida brought it to Evans?
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Dana White needs to apologize to Anderson Silva (Matt Fleischer, True/Slant)
Dana White’s hate list – 50 people who have enraged the volatile UFC chief (The Bleacher Report)