Opinion: Dana White’s ‘apolitical’ UFC is a thing of imagination


Dana White’s “apolitical” UFC is a factor of creativeness.

The sports activities business is loads of issues. Thrilling. Intriguing. Fascinating. The adjectives proceed to pile up. However one factor it isn’t is “apolitical.” The identical is alleged in regards to the UFC, run by one Dana White. White pushed the concept he’s preserving politics out of the UFC, however that might not be any farther from the reality.

On Monday, White appeared on Fox Information to speak with Sean Hannity (an instance in irony if there ever was one) about UFC 261, a serious MMA showcase that introduced greater than 15,000 followers to an indoor venue. This was seen as a serious success in welcoming followers again into the world a couple of yr after COVID-19 launched the world to the time period social distancing amongst different issues. It was throughout this dialog that White made his statements about politics throughout the UFC.

“One of many issues that I’ve actually tried to do is keep out of politics,” White stated. “When individuals tune in to observe sports activities, they don’t wish to hear that crap. They don’t wish to hear what your opinions are, who you might be voting for, or what you might be doing. They wish to get away from all the pieces of their life.”

To cement that time, Hannity introduced up the viewership points that leagues just like the NBA and MLB had after adjusting their seasons to have the ability to compete in the course of the pandemic. These leagues have been identified as a result of that they had clear messages supporting the requires social justice happening all through the USA and recognizing the hazard of the worldwide pandemic. Not solely have been their seasons adjusted and moved to totally different schedules, however they have been additionally held in the course of the most-watched, and hotly contested presidential election within the historical past of the nation. Each robust opponents for any content material to go up towards.

Can the UFC actually name itself apolitical?

However allow us to focus solely on the concept the UFC is “apolitical.” There are numerous methods to debunk this speaking level.

Allow us to begin with the UFC as a model itself. This is similar group that created a propaganda video to help former President Donald Trump titled, “Combatant in Chief.” This video linked Trump to the early days of the promotion’s growth however was clearly offered with a puffery tilt. This video was out there for viewing on the streaming platform, UFC Combat Cross. That was till early January when the video was eliminated after the mounting fallout of the rebellion on the Capitol Constructing that was motivated by Trump’s personal phrases.

Whereas talking about Trump, allow us to additionally focus on the truth that White himself has been a featured speaker at two Republican Nationwide Conventions. The newest in 2020 drawing loads of criticism for White’s speech being marred with inaccurate statements. This is similar person who additionally appeared at a Trump rally with a number of members of the UFC roster together with Henry Cejudo, Justin Gaethje, and Colby Covington. That’s simply scratching the floor in how the UFC has been linked as an vital useful resource for Trump each throughout and after his presidency.

These are all political actions by the UFC from a public standpoint that might be thought of very political. However what about behind the scenes? The UFC has performed a key half in combating the Muhammed Ali act, a federal legislation that’s meant to, at a excessive stage, enhance the rights and welfare of fighters, together with different enhancements in favor of the athletes. In 2016 the group employed a lobbying agency to assist fight the growth of the Ali Act. In 2017 monetary paperwork revealed that the UFC raised almost half one million {dollars} to take action. Once more, political strikes on the very core.

White did make a factual assertion in the course of the dialog with Hannity. Fighters are usually not muzzled and may say almost something that they need throughout combat builds, post-fight interviews, or almost another time an organization microphone or digicam is close to. Take each Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal who each have taken to advertise heavy political platforms any time they will – whilst they make inaccurate statements usually. White and the UFC haven’t muzzled these fighters in any manner.

“Clearly, there are particular fighters, female and male, which have their very own non secular beliefs, their very own political views. We don’t muzzle anybody both,” White stated. “If somebody comes out on the press convention and so they wish to discuss this or that – it’s their God-given proper to. If you wish to hearken to that stuff, flip to a different station.”

What that “stuff” White mentions is noticeably clear.  When a corporation presents itself as “apolitical,” the actual that means is that the politics of minorities and marginalized teams are usually not welcome. White’s media tour on right-leaning platforms reveals that he’s catering to a selected viewers. He wouldn’t be caught talking with the likes of Jemele Hill or Bomani Jones in regards to the multitude of problematic points seen throughout the UFC and combined martial arts. UFC 261 was a hit, however many onlookers identified the disgust that a number of fighters of Chinese language descent have been booed the second they walked out to the cage till the top of their fights. This steadily occurs with fighters of overseas descent who’re hit with chants of “USA”, even when they’re from the USA by beginning. However once more, the UFC isn’t political.

There was and by no means will probably be a time when sports activities and politics don’t go hand in hand. That’s very true about fight sports activities. From Jack Johnson to Kamaru Usman, politics will all the time rage in a world the place the victor is seen as “superior.” Dana White’s presentation that the UFC is devoid of politics is simply one other instance of the ignorance round details throughout the MMA neighborhood. And in one more level of irony round the entire matter, the dialog between White and Hannity ended with an image of Chris Weidman standing within the Octagon holding an American flag up for everybody to see.


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