Dana White's Childish Approach to Tim Kennedy Criticism Makes UFC Look Cheap

By Rich Bergeron
Tim Kennedy UFC 162 Weigh In
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The latest target of Dana White‘s most recent angry tirades over fighter pay is Tim Kennedy, a Strikeforce convert who is about to make his UFC debut Saturday against Roger Gracie. Kennedy made comments in a recent interview denouncing the pay scale in the UFC to the point where he claimed he could make more money as a garbage man.

The 33-year-old U.S. Army Ranger obviously didn’t think his comments would make such a huge impact, and he promptly apologized and backtracked on those critical statements.

“…Zuffa has taken better care of me than any other organization, even giving me a bonus for being amusing on Twitter. My choice of words was poor, not properly informed and did not match my intent. Additionally, my comments were taken out of context,” Kennedy said in an apology letter distributed to the media. He also went on to say sorry to White, Lorenzo FertittaJoe Silva and “anyone I might have offended with my comments.”

That didn’t stop White from blasting Kennedy for his non-superstar status in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal:

“No disrespect, but who gives a s—- about Tim Kennedy? Is he selling out venues? Are people buying f—– tickets for Tim Kennedy? OK, there you go.”

White went on to suggest that if Kennedy doesn’t like his UFC paychecks he should go ahead and leave the UFC to be a garbage man.

The entire incident illustrates the extent of the disdainful treatment UFC fighters can face for speaking out against the league’s shortchanging of some of their most important employees. Any critical commentary earns the wrath of the man made famous for a speech to the cast of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter where he went on a rant focused around the main question: “Do you want to be a f—ing fighter?”

For someone who never personally fought a professional bout in his life, White’s abrasive attitude on this front displays a complete lack of respect and perspective.

During an interview a few years ago with Ryan Couture, the son of Former UFC Heavyweight Champ Randy Couture, the young Strikeforce prospect told me he wanted to stay in Strikeforce for his whole career because “the UFC likes to keep you under their thumb.” He ended up in the UFC anyway thanks to their buyout of Strikeforce, and as a result, he’s been forced to accept a mandate from the league forbidding his own father from cornering him in his bouts. He’s had to choose his fighting career over his own family, and that seems to be just the way White likes it.

This is a guy who somehow still has no clue what it really does take to be a pro mixed martial arts fighter even after all these years he’s been the president of the most successful MMA league on the planet and a manager of MMA fighters before that. Fans and media experts are getting sick of the same old four-letter-word-filled tirades that don’t ever give any concrete reasons or solid explanations for why the UFC can’t step up the payments for lower-level fighters. There’s no excuse for the league to avoid making life a little more comfortable for these prospects who sometimes end up actually paying out of their own pockets to participate in the UFC after taxes, training camp and travel expenses are deducted from their final fight pay.

All the while, White continues to rake in the cash for simply picking up a microphone and spouting complete BS. He’s a millionaire mouthpiece who claimed back in 2010 that the UFC was worth up to $2.5 billion, and he just can’t seem to comprehend the fact that some of his fighters have to face serious financial struggles to pursue one of the most brutal and painful career choices a person could possibly make. Other than deciding to become an elite soldier like Kennedy, that is.

White needs to stop making excuses and start realizing that it’s the prospects in the league today who will help him make his own hefty paycheck tomorrow, so he better take care of them and stop pretending that they “don’t matter.”  It’s time for him to start listening to these concerns and really addressing them in a constructive manner instead of just lashing out at those who raise them.

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