While Dana White often faces criticism from his fighters, there have been occasions when a number of UFC stars have praised him for various reasons. Whether it’s down to respect or because he’s treated them well personally, it’s safe to say that these fighters are seemingly happy to call White their boss.
Here are five UFC fighters who praised Dana White.
#5. Chris Barnett praised Dana White
Given that he’s just 1-2 in the octagon and is hardly considered a superstar fighter, current heavyweight contender Chris Barnett probably wouldn’t expect preferential treatment from Dana White. Recently, though, he went out of his way to praise the UFC president, discussing his compassionate side.
According to ‘Beast Boy’, just 30 hours before his bout with Martin Buday in April, he received a call from doctors to tell him that his wife – who was fighting a case of encephalitis – had passed away suddenly.
Essentially, Barnett was advised to make a decision over whether he could take the fight booking. While it would’ve been easy for him to withdraw, he instead stepped into the octagon and lost an unfortunate technical decision.
After the fight, Barnett claims that he was called by White, who “cussed him out,” basically telling him that he didn’t need to have taken the fight.
When ‘Beast Boy’ explained that he felt that he had to fulfill his contract, White surprised him by offering him support if he needed anything, and went on to state that “damn, he cares.”
In this case, the heavyweight contender seemed to be sending a message to his fellow fighters, who often suggest that White is all about the money – whereas evidently, that isn’t always true.
#4. Michael Chandler praised Dana White
It’s safe to say that current lightweight contender Michael Chandler can probably count himself among Dana White’s favorite fighters. Not only did the UFC president suggest ‘Iron Mike’ might’ve had the “best octagon debut ever” against Dan Hooker, but he also stated that his front-kick knockout of Tony Ferguson was “the most vicious” he’d ever seen.
Cynics, though, would suggest that White’s love for Chandler stems not only from his reputation as an exciting fighter in the octagon, but also the fact that he’s been a consummate company man since arriving in the UFC in 2021.
In fact, Chandler caused an absolute meltdown on social media earlier this year when he went out of his way to praise White, even defending the UFC’s controversial fighter pay scale in the process.
Essentially, Chandler admitted that he didn’t actually receive a huge pay increase from moving to the UFC from Bellator MMA, but he did suggest that being part of the promotion has allowed him to “monetize things outside his fights.”
He then went onto state that while he understood the argument behind people believing fighters should be paid more, “Dana White has had 10,000 sleepless nights” promoting the UFC, and that he felt he was receiving a “decent wage.”
Naturally, many people weren’t in agreement with Chandler’s point of view – with some bringing up an old jibe from Ferguson, who famously stated that ‘Iron Mike’ had “Dana White privilege” prior to UFC 262 in 2021.
Indeed, for as long as White is UFC president, it seems likely that Chandler will remain one of the promotion’s favored stars.
#3. Daniel Cormier praised Dana White
One fighter who has seemingly always been on Dana White’s good side is former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
Now widely recognized as one of the promotion’s top color commentators, ‘DC’ was entered into the UFC Hall of Fame after his retirement in 2020, and has often been labeled one of the greatest fighters of all time by White.
Unsurprisingly, Cormier has, in turn, never said a bad word about the UFC president, going out of his way to praise him on numerous occasions.
One such occasion saw ‘DC’ defend the promotion’s fighter pay scale, revealing that in 2015, following his loss to Jon Jones – the first defeat of his career – White paid him an undisclosed $1 million bonus for putting on a great show.
Cormier went onto explain that the UFC “try to protect their athletes” by not disclosing some of the money they’re paid, suggesting that fighters who get onside with White and company could make far more than the media know.
Regardless of the truth of Cyborg’s claims, it’s fair to say that Cormier clearly gets on with White more than the majority of the UFC’s fighters, past or present.
#2. Tito Ortiz praised Dana White
Few fighters have enjoyed as tumultuous of a relationship with Dana White as former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. Ortiz, who was once managed by White prior to him becoming UFC president, seems to have alternated between despising and respecting the promoter for the best part of 20 years now.
Naturally, the lowest point in the relationship between White and ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ came when they arranged a boxing match between them that later fell through, while Ortiz later famously wore a t-shirt stating “Dana White is my b*tch” prior to UFC 84.
However, in recent years, while he hasn’t been part of the promotion in a long time, Ortiz seems to have mellowed in his stance towards his former boss and has praised him in the media.
2019, for instance, saw Ortiz confirm in an interview that the Golden Boy MMA promotion, which put together his third bout with Chuck Liddell, was “dead” before going on to state that Oscar De La Hoya hadn’t “done his homework” when it came to promoting MMA.
Ortiz claimed that White, on the other hand, “busts his a*s for the MMA crowd and not just for his family, but for fighters and their future.” He then went onto claim that “when you’re as successful as (White), it is because he’s put in hard work and dedication.”
To see Ortiz change his stance on White was remarkable, and given the UFC president’s penchant for forgiving former fighters, it wouldn’t be surprising to see ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ return to the fold in some way in the future.
#1. Khabib Nurmagomedov praised Dana White
It goes without saying that during his career with the UFC, Khabib Nurmagomedov quickly became one of Dana White’s favorite and most highly rated fighters. White never seemed to enjoy anything but a great relationship with ‘The Eagle’, and when the Dagestani retired in 2020, it didn’t take him long to join the UFC’s Hall of Fame.
It came as no surprise, then, when Khabib showered White with praise in a 2022 interview discussing his own fight promotion, Eagle FC. In the interview, Nurmagomedov stated that White was the “best of all time promoter” and that “nobody’s even close and I try to just learn from him.”
He went on to state that while White hadn’t responded to his call for his protégé Islam Makhachev to receive a shot at the UFC lightweight title, he understood the president’s “game” because of his own new experiences as a promoter.
‘The Eagle’ then took to Instagram to make a post stating that he has “so much respect for (White).”
Whether Khabib can reach the levels of success as a promoter enjoyed by White remains to be seen, but it’s definitely safe to say that he’s unlikely to criticize the UFC president any time soon.