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Banned Questions - UFC 293 edition
UFC CEO, he shed the president tag earlier this week, Dana White, spoke to the UFC access media following Saturday’s UFC 293 pay-per-view card in Australia. This column, which began when I was with Bloody Elbow. The concept behind the column is twofold. The first idea is to present questions that I would ask if I was among the hand-selected media allowed to attend UFC events. The second idea behind "Banned Questions" is to give the media members who are tapped to attend UFC events some ideas on providing their readers, fight fans, and, in some cases, the UFC fighters, with more information.
On to the column…
Dricus Du Plessis and the entire UFC roster
Dana White: “When opportunities arise, you jump on them, and you take them. You should never turn down fights when you get the call. Especially if it’s for a world title.”
TR: This seemed like a thinly veiled reference to Dricus Du Plessis and a clear message to all fighters on the UFC roster.
I understand this from the UFC's point of view. Of course, they want to make one call and have their first choice to fight for a title accept that fight. However, what if the fighter is injured? What if the potential title challenger can't get a full camp in? What if the fighter's coach is already training another client for a just as significant contest? There is a long list of reasons an athlete might know that turning down a world title fight is right for them at the moment the UFC offers the "opportunity."
So the question becomes, what if the fighter who turned down the chance to fight for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 293, in this case, Dricus Du Plessis, is the No. 1 competitor in the division and one, or more, of the above reasons prevented him from taking the fight? Should he put faith in his "official UFC ranking" because there is no such thing as "Dana White privilege" in the UFC and have faith that when he is healthy and can put together a full camp, the fight will materialize? Or should he accept the UFC's offer, knowing he'll be compromised and that a loss will set him back in the rankings and give him a long path back to another title fight?
The UFC is in the UFC business where the date on the calendar is more important than the fighter who could compete. The promotion must be more flexible on this front if it wants to present the best fights possible.
Where’s the line?
Two fighters used homophobic slurs during their post-fight interviews.
White summed this up as "mistakes" being made, but what's the line on "mistakes?" If a fighter makes a "mistake" and says something racist, is that acceptable for White and the UFC? How about religion? Why is homophobia okay with the UFC?
UFC back on the road?
White said the UFC is going to go "everywhere" soon.
When will this start happening? I ask because White said the same thing in October 2021, "We've got to get back on the road. We've got to start going to places like Oklahoma and all these other small towns that we do Fight Nights in. We eventually have to get back to work. I'm looking forward to it. Sooner than later."
That was nearly two years ago, and still, the UFC relies on the UFC Apex for many of what would typically be "Fight Night" events somewhere other than Las Vegas. Glancing at the UFC's schedule for the next few months, four of the UFC's nine booked events will take place at the UFC Apex.
Power Slap getting sanctioned?
This one came up following Tuesday’s Dana White Contender Series card when a member of the access media, perhaps looking to ingratiate themself with White, decided to ask about Power Slap.
In reply, White said that "all these states" are going to start sanctioning Power Slap.
That response went unchallenged, despite the fact that when I asked when Power Slap first launched, most states responded to the question of sanctioning White’s latest pet project with a resounding "no." The easy question that went unasked on this subject is what states are in the process of sanctioning, and when will that take place?
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Questions that remain unanswered
What happened to Stephen Thompson's UFC 291 pay situation?
The Conor McGregor question about the possibility of a USADA waiver from the UFC is the biggest unanswered question facing the UFC, Dana White, and his fellow UFC executives. That question needs to be thrown to White every time he sits in front of a microphone. Especially since the history of the UFC giving out USADA waivers has not been positive for the promotion.
What's changed with UFC Fight Night Bonuses?
For years, the UFC refused to allow a fighter who missed weight to be eligible for a fight-night bonus. In fact, there have been times when, after a UFC fighter missed weight and put on a "Fight of the Night" bonus-worthy performance, the fighter who made weight received both shares of the bonus. One example was UFC 225 when Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero won "Fight of the Night" after Romero came in heavy, and Whittaker pocketed $100,000.
However, the promotion's stance on that subject has seemed to soften. At UFC 285, White awarded Geoff Neal his $50,000 share of the "Fight of the Night" bonus despite Neal coming in at 175 pounds for his welterweight scrap against Shavkat Rakhmonov.
In Season 1 of the DWCS, a total of 16 contracts were awarded over eight weeks. By Season 6 that number had jumped to 43 contracts. In the current season, Season 7, 26 contracts have been awarded in si
x weeks, which puts the number of signings on pace with last season. So, what's changed? Why has the number of DWCS signings increased so much? Also, why were on the subject, why is the starting purse for a DWCS contract less than the "normal" starting purse of $12,000?
Most of us know the answer to the question regarding the number of signings, but that doesn't mean it's not something to ask. Getting the person in charge to admit to what we know is sometimes worth the ask because it can lead to other questions or changes in the structure of contracts.