Las Vegas, Nevada has become a mecca for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, commonly known as UFC. It is where the sport holds its biggest events with its biggest stars. However, the biggest UFC event of late has been an interview with the President, Dana White. He was challenging reporters to name any fighter in UFC who they think was taking steroids and he will test them immediately. He had his phone in his hand, ready to dial.
He demanded them to give him a name. Any name of any fighter they think was taking steroids and he would test them today.
White’s requests got louder, more demanding, and more expletive-filled as no one in the room said a word. “Give me one [expletive] name right now, I’ll get them on the phone, and somebody will drive to their [expletive] house today and will test them. Say it.” His face became reddened, and his anger was obvious. Once reporter said it seemed he was looking for a fight rather than promoting one.
This is just the kind of fiery attitude the UFC needs; a guy that is not afraid to get in someone’s face just to prove a point or call someone out on national television because they are disrespecting him, any of the fighters he employs, or the empire that he has built from the ground up. Someone that is at the helm of arguably the most physical sport in the world needs to have that kind of unstable, boisterous outlook, right?
The UFC has become a worldwide phenomenon because it’s a sport unlike any other we have ever seen, save for (maybe) ancient Greek wrestling. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the fighting that has characterized the UFC, brings different fighting styles from all over the world into one octagonal caged structure which came to be known, simply, as “the Octagon”. The Octagon has housed some of the most malicious and brutal fights I have ever seen.
Imagine stepping into a room with chain-link fence for walls and no way out, and across the room is a man (or woman) who is an expert in the field of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wants nothing more than to knock you out or make you submit. That is intimidating to say the least. But now imagine there are 200,000 people on the outside of the cage watching you and wanting to see you get knocked out, with another one million people watching at home. Now the stakes have changed.
This kind of in your face, no-holds-barred fighting is gruesome to some people in a room, yet exhilarating to others in the very same room. Some argue that it’s too violent while others say it’s exactly what this country needs.
America has had this debate before, and is still currently having this debate. American Football (referred to from here on as football) has been a hot topic of controversy for the past twenty or so years now because people have seen it as being too violent. Malcolm Gladwell compared football to dogfighting, and said that part of what makes dogfighting so repulsive is the inherent violence and injury that cannot be removed from the sport, similar to a large portion of the public who think football is too dangerous (read Gladwell’s article here).
Is football dangerous? Without question. Is the National Football League doing everything it can to protect its players and make the game safer? Yes they are. But what about UFC?
How can a sport that puts two men’s fists, arms, legs and feet in a battle against each other be made safer? It can’t, but that’s why it is so appealing. UFC has taken the place of football as the dominant physical sport, and the nature of the sport is a response to what may consider America becoming soft. Michael Oriard, an ex-professional football player who played four years in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, writes about how football was promoted as a sport to toughen up weak men when many felt they were becoming too soft.
This is where UFC is today. It is a viciously physical sport in a time where physicality is trying to be hindered. And who better to run the most physical, hard-nose sport than a guy who will yell and scream at a bunch of reporters for 40 minutes because they are patronizing his fighters? Dana White.
White may be characterized as loud and overly aggressive, but he’s also excessively passionate about the spectacle he created, and wants nothing more than to make UFC the greatest spectator sport in the world, and he wouldn’t mind taking out a few naysayers in the process.