Five UFC fighters who wanted to knock Dana White out
UFC president Dana White is the very definition of a divisive figure. Some people love him for his brash, straight-talking attitude, the fact that he appears to have the best interests of the fans at heart, and the fact that he’s the antithesis of your regular corporate executive. Others, however, despise him, feeling he lies constantly, doesn’t care about his fighters, and is simply in it for the money.
The truth, honestly, is probably somewhere in the middle. For every fighter who hates Dana, there’s one who loves him, like Chuck Liddell, Donald Cerrone and Forrest Griffin. At times though, Dana has angered his fighters to such an extent that they’ve outright wanted to throw down with him. Here are five that truly held a grudge and would probably still knock him out if they had the chance.
#5 Tito Ortiz
Tito and Dana were originally close friends; Dana managed Tito in his early UFC days and it was this relationship that actually led to the Fertitta brothers – childhood friends of White – buying the UFC from SEG in 2001. When Dana took over as UFC president, however, and was forced to leave Ortiz’s side, the relationship soon turned sour. The big issue? Unsurprisingly, it stemmed largely from a financial disagreement – Ortiz wanted more money to fight his former friend Chuck Liddell than the UFC were initially willing to pay.
Eventually, the two parties came to an understanding, but only after Randy Couture took the Liddell fight and beat him. Ortiz in turn lost to Couture and then Liddell, but by early 2005 he was back on the winning track after beating Patrick Cote and Vitor Belfort. But the Belfort fight ended his contract and Tito walked away, feeling he was worth more money, and began to badmouth White at every opportunity. White unsurprisingly returned the favour.
When Tito returned to the UFC later that year, it was a surprise, but even more surprising was a clause in his contract that stipulated that he could take on Dana himself in a boxing match. It was odd, to say the least, and despite a documentary titled ‘Bad Blood’ to build up the fight, Tito decided against it. His naysayers claimed Dana – a former amateur boxer – had gotten the better of him in earlier training sessions. This time Ortiz’s contract with the UFC ended even more acrimoniously – he wore a t-shirt stating ‘DANA IS MY B***H’ at the weigh-ins for his final fight and then left after losing to Lyoto Machida.
Incredibly, the two mended fences again and Ortiz returned just over a year later, supposedly back in White’s good books. The relationship seemed okay for three years this time and Ortiz was put into the UFC’s Hall of Fame after retiring, but a move to rival promotion Bellator sent things sour again, with the two men sniping at one another like it was 2006 all over again. The word now is that they’ve made up again, but who knows how long it’ll last?
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#4 Randy Couture
The Heavyweight champion at the time Dana became UFC president, Couture’s relationship with his new boss got off on the wrong foot when he refused to be included in the UFC’s earliest video game, back in 2002. Despite this, Couture became the UFC’s go-to guy for most of the decade, winning four titles along the way. But then came 2007. Couture – the reigning Heavyweight champion again – decided to walk out of the UFC, feeling his contract with them was preventing him from fighting former PRIDE champ Fedor Emelianenko, who had refused to sign with White and co.
Things got really nasty as Dana accused Couture of lying to him on numerous occasions during their time working together, and Couture responded by hitting the UFC with a lawsuit. Zuffa responded in kind – even banning Randy’s Xtreme Couture clothing line – but when it was clear he was on to a loser, Couture returned to the fold about a year after abandoning ship.
The relationship was apparently healed, but when Couture retired for good in 2011, he once again burned his bridges with Dana: rather than take a job with the UFC and Fox as an analyst, he instead made the move to rival promotion Bellator. Dana was naturally furious and slammed Couture in the media at every opportunity.
Randy would probably still love to unleash his trademark ground-and-pound on Dana, but as it is, he’s now challenging the very system that allowed him to make his name by encouraging the US congress to impose the frankly dangerous Muhammad Ali Reform Act onto MMA. It’d be a move that would probably hurt Dana more than any right hook or elbow could.
#3 Mark Hunt
One of the UFC’s most tenured fighters at Heavyweight, Mark Hunt’s grudge against Dana has only come recently – since the summer of 2016 – but it arguably burns more strongly than any other on this list. Currently embroiled in a lawsuit against the UFC while still remaining on their roster, Hunt has accused Zuffa – mainly Dana – of everything from fight-fixing to racketeering to ignoring doping from other fighters.
In a way, the Aussie star has a point. He was selected to fight Brock Lesnar when the WWE star and former UFC champion decided to return to MMA at UFC 200 last summer, and despite USADA now overseeing the UFC’s anti-doping program, Lesnar was allowed to re-enter testing relatively late on due to a weird loophole. Brock went on to beat Hunt by unanimous decision, but then tested positive for the banned performance enhancer clomiphene.
Hunt was furious, stating that he was sick of fighting steroid-enhanced opponents, as he’d already taken on Antonio Silva and Ben Rothwell in the past. He accused the UFC of turning a blind eye towards doping and hit them with a lawsuit. Although he has continued to fight since, a recent booking against Marcin Tybura was terminated after the UFC brass had concerns over an interview that saw Hunt admit to memory loss – a possible sign of CTE.
Since then, Hunt’s fury towards Dana has only grown. He let out an expletive-laden rant towards Dana and the UFC following his removal from the Tybura fight and has vowed to bring the UFC down. If he were given the chance, he’d probably “knock that bloke out”, as he so loves to say!
#2 Demetrious Johnson
The reigning UFC Flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson has been labelled the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world by many people, Dana White included. He’s also classy enough that he appears to have buried his hatchet with the UFC president, for the time being at least. How much longer that will last given Dana’s volatile nature though is anyone’s guess.
Johnson’s beef with the UFC and Dana stemmed from the fact that after ten successive title defences, the UFC wanted him to fight former Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in a so-called ‘superfight’, with Dillashaw dropping to 125lbs to challenge Johnson. Johnson felt that Dillashaw would be unable to make the weight, and said he’d prefer to fight Ray Borg – a ranked challenger, but a much lesser-known name than Dillashaw.
In an astonishing rant on social media, Johnson explained the reaction from Dana and the UFC brass to this decision – apparently, they’d tried to lowball his pay, tried to force his hand into fighting Dillashaw and even threatened to dissolve the entire Flyweight division! Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and Johnson delivered another successful defence against Borg. But with Dillashaw now holding the Bantamweight title and calling again for the superfight with Johnson, this situation could raise its ugly head again soon.
#1 Frank Shamrock
The majority of fighters who fall out with Dana White tend to kiss and make up eventually, even the most bitter ones like Tito Ortiz. The fact is that more money can be made if both parties simply get along. The same cannot be said for Frank Shamrock, one of the UFC’s most legendary champions and one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
Retired and working as a UFC commentator when Dana took over the company in 2001, Shamrock quickly fell out with the president for reasons that remain largely foggy. Since then, however, he’s literally done everything within his power to harm the UFC; be it badmouthing Dana in every interview he does, or joining forces with every rival promotion to spring up, including Bellator, StrikeForce and Elite XC.
He’s even issued veiled threats towards Dana in some of his interviews, triggering the UFC president to label him as mentally unstable. Shamrock’s relationship with the UFC is so bad that despite being one of their most decorated champions – the original 205lbs titleholder with an impressive four successful title defences – he’s been largely erased from UFC history. Even the likes of Ortiz and Couture haven’t been treated that badly. Shamrock is definitely one man Dana ought to avoid if he’s out and about.