Being a man-manager is a considerably tough task in itself. The job becomes a hundred times more difficult if the 'men' requiring to be managed are UFC fighters. Naturally, UFC president Dana White has one of the most grueling jobs on planet earth and it is understandable if UFC fighters and the UFC boss end up at loggerheads at times.
While fighters in the lower rung of the organization do not wish to end up in the bad books of Dana White, that is not the case with UFC stars. Champions and top-ranked fighters are well aware of the business they bring to the UFC, and are not always willing to bow down to the boss. Here, we look at some of these highly controversial incidents.
#3 Dana White and Tito Ortiz: From friends to foes
Dana White and Tito Ortiz have had a relationship that took several years to go from sweet to sour. The UFC president's feud with former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is perhaps one of the most pronounced and well-documented.
Dana White was Tito Ortiz's manager before Zuffa acquired the UFC. However, once White assumed the role of UFC president, his relationship with the MMA legend became strained. Their feud involved Dana and Ortiz calling each other names, getting into a fist-fight on a flight to Japan, and even booking a boxing bout against each other.
"We were on a private plane on our way to Japan and it was my partners, the Fertitta brothers, myself, Tito Ortiz and our matchmakers at the time, Joe Silva. Tito and I were messing around and he put me in what’s called a neck crank. I was tapping and he didn’t stop. You can seriously hurt somebody in a neck crank, especially as big and strong as Tito is."
Dana White further explained how he reacted to Tito Ortiz inflicting pain on him and said:
"So I just started blasting him in the ribs, started punching him in the ribs and when he let go [I] just jumped up and it was just a full blown fist fight in the plane. We were literally taking off and the plane was [wobbling] and the Fertitta brothers had to jump in and break up the fight. So then I sat on the front of the plane, he sat in the back of the plane the rest of the flight."
Tito Ortiz departed the UFC in 2005 following a contract dispute, and the feud between him and Dana White became more public. Ortiz returned to the UFC a year later, but not without White adding a clause to his contract. The former UFC light heavyweight champion was required to fight Dana White in a fully-sanctioned boxing match that would even be broadcast.
The boxing match never took place, with both the involved parties blaming each other for chickening out. The feud continued until Tito Ortiz moved over to Bellator MMA in 2014.
#2 Dana White and Conor McGregor's fall-out in 2020
From giving him a $60k bonus on his UFC debut, putting him in a position to become the first double-champ, to promoting him for the bout against Floyd Mayweather - Dana White and Conor McGregor have always had a rosy relationship. However, a lot of it changed in 2020 when the two suffered a fall-out.
Conor McGregor came out of retirement for a third time in 2020. He was desperate to come out stronger after his previous two outings ended in losses. But Dana White wanted the former UFC multi-division champion to wait. 'The Notorious One' did not like the second-class treatment and threatened to release his personal conversations with Dana White on social media.
The Irishman also went ahead and planned a fight outside the UFC, threatening to violate his contract with the MMA organization. This was enough to upset Dana White.
"We were in a really bad place then, I was really upset. It wasn’t because he (Conor McGregor) put out private messages. We were talking about another fighter. And I like Diego Sanchez. I have a lot of respect for Diego Sanchez. I care about Diego Sanchez. I talked to Diego face-to-face about it, and being the great human being he is, we’re all good. I was really upset with Conor.."
#1 Dana White sidelines Francis Ngannou; blasts his agent
Dana White offered Francis Ngannou a title defense against Derrick Lewis five months after 'The Predator' became the UFC heavyweight champion. When Ngannou declined the dates offered to him in favor of a later occasion, the UFC president sidelined the champion.
It was revealed by the UFC that there was now going to be an interim heavyweight title fight in August at UFC 265 between Cyril Gane and Derrick Lewis. The move came as a shock to Francis Ngannou and his entourage. Ngannou voiced his disagreement with the move by taking to Twitter to recall how he was denied an interim bout when Stipe Miocic was champion.
Francis Ngannou's agent Marquel Martin also voiced his "shock" at the UFC move. But Dana White went berserk and slammed Martin on social media, calling him "incompetent" and, indirectly, a liar.
Dana White said of Francis Ngannou's agent:
"This dude is so full of sh*t. He knows exactly what's going on and isn't "shocked" at all. Because we told him several times this was coming. His management is incompetent and hopefully Francis starts taking a look at new people to help his career."
Marquel Martin shot back at Dana White and offered to release all of their personal conversations on social media. Francis Ngannou publicly supported his agent in the fight against Dana White, making it clear that even he believed the UFC president's actions to be unpleasant.