Count current Bellator MMA commentator John McCarthy among those that took issue with Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White’s recent video release.
On his podcast “Weighing In” on Thursday, McCarthy and fellow Bellator commentator Josh Thomson weighed in on the video released by Dana White on Monday. In White’s Dec. 21 video, the UFC head lashed out at MMA media, claiming that the media was trying to shut the promotion down in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The video, which showed several longstanding media members in a harshly negative light, pulled clips and articles from March to May about how the promotion should continue. At that time, the UFC did not release public details of its coronavirus protocols, leaving the media critical of the procedures while asking what was going on.
Among White’s many complaints in what several in the media space have considered a “victory lap” for the UFC, White attacked so-called “clickbait” articles written by media members. McCarthy had several thoughts on that.
“Here’s the best part of this whole thing,” McCarthy began. “Here’s a guy that says, ‘I don’t give a f--- about the media’ – first off, I don’t even look at us as media, but that’s ok. But, the ‘I don’t give a f--- about the media,’ but then [White] always complains about clickbait. You know, ‘these media guys and that clickbait bulls--t that they do’ and it’s like, and what the f--- did you and your little team do, man? You little clickbait b---h.”
McCarthy was far from done railing about the UFC boss, as a longtime referee who began back at UFC 2 in 1994.
“I just cracked up, man, I go ‘you are so pathetic.’ You actually…first off, you need to have your own little pat on the back, ok, let me pat you on the back, because you took everything out of context. You made it to where you were the hero, congratulations hero Dana. Oh, let me bow down to you. Unbelievable, my god. When are you gonna figure out, you know what, just don’t worry about it. Do your thing you did, you did great. The UFC had a fantastic year, but let’s be honest about everything that occurred and let’s be honest about your video because your video is clickbait, and it’s bulls--t and it’s out of context!”
Co-host Thomson correctly pointed out that the actual shutdown of the UFC event – which was slated to take place on April 18 at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, Calif. – was due not to the media but in fact from California Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Governor Gavin Newsom. The political officials contacted Disney, the parent company of ESPN, and asked them to stop the event from taking place.
The legality of the events, and the mere regulation of the events, was where it struck a note for McCarthy. The veteran referee, who was part of writing up the original Unified Rules of MMA in 2001, was not a fan of White “taking a huge step backwards.”
“When [White] went to Jacksonville, Fla., I was one of his biggest supporters, because he wasn’t doing what he was doing with the Tachi Palace and Lemoore fight that was illegal. He was leading himself down into a path that the California State Athletic Commission refused to regulate the show in Lemoore at the Tachi Palace. They said ‘we are not gonna do that, we do not want you to have that there.’ And this is going back to…Dana’s part of it, he’s done so much to try to get the sport regulated and everything, and he was taking a huge step backwards. In trying to put on a show at the Tachi Palace that was not, [he] can sit there and say whatever he wants to say, he was going to self-regulate the show.”
This issue of self-regulation inside the U.S., where lockdowns were happening across the country while the state commission nixed the event, could have harmed officials the promotion was planning on bringing in to officiate the cards.
“That was a huge mistake, and it was a mistake for every official, you see [because] he put California officials, and we talked about this back then, he put Herb Dean in a horrible spot. If it was Jason Herzog or Mike Beltran or all these [referees], they can’t do that show, because they’re gonna get unlicensed by the California State Athletic Commission…or they’re gonna get suspended, and when you get suspended, now when you go get a license anywhere. [If] Jason or Herb or Mike [go] to any state, be it Florida, Illinois, they come to Tennessee, they go to Kentucky, where they have to get licensed. And on that form, every time, is something about ‘have you ever been suspended.’ Now they’ve got to [mark ‘yes’], and they’ve got to explain what happened and why they got suspended, and now they’re giving an opportunity to another athletic commission to say ‘oh, we’re not gonna use you.’”
Being involved with the UFC and with a longstanding relationship with White, McCarthy was quite aware at the reason that the promotion was so dead-set on staging these fight cards.
“Let’s just be flat out honest of why Dana was so intent on putting out shows,” McCarthy said matter-of-factly. “It wasn’t because he was so into ‘oh I wanna keep my people employed.’ He needed to put on those shows so he could get the money from ESPN, because he had a 42-fight status contract that he had to meet for him to get his $750 million. Now, by putting on the shows, I love the fact that he kept all the fighters being able to make a living, fantastic. I love the fact that he put nobody, from the staff, nobody got cut. Those are all beautiful things, bigtime things, but that all happened from that first show in Jacksonville forward because he was able to put on the shows and that’s what it was all about.”
McCarthy was among those White pointed out in the video as saying that the UFC should not hold these events. He made a point that the people targeted in the video left out a few critical names, including UFC commentator Joe Rogan.
“I was not the guy that was against him doing it,” McCarthy defended himself by saying. “I was against him trying to do what was basically an illegal show in the state of California that he got shut down. And it got shut down by his bosses, now it’s really kind of funny that all of his little editors and everything with his video, they didn’t put Joe Rogan on there. You know why? I wonder why? Let’s see. Oh, because it doesn’t look good for [when] Joe Rogan says what? ‘I am not going to do any commentary, I don’t know who they’re gonna get it, but it ain’t gonna be me’ Ok, because he didn’t know what was going on, and he was worried about something, but that’s ok for him to be worried about.”