UFC president Dana White made the following two statements when talking about separate incidents.
“This is the most disgusting thing that’s happened in the history of the company,” and “I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m just disgusted and sick over it.”
Can you guess what he’s talking about in each?
Here’s a clue. In one, he later exploited footage from the “disgusting” incident to promote the biggest and most important fight in the company’s history.
And the other? What the future holds in the aftermath of White’s comments made following Saturday’s UFC 229 melee remains to be seen, but given past precedent, we can reasonably expect similar treatment.
Indeed, White will publicly chastise Conor McGregor for slamming a dolly through a bus window and also Khabib Nurmagomedov for inciting a riot, yet it is difficult to decipher which dollar signs were flickering faster, the ones inside the Las Vegas hotels or the ones inside his head.
Welcome to the modern UFC, a company now built upon a heap of trash through the mountain of uncontrollable egos.
White, and the UFC, alongside Nurmagomedov and McGregor are apportioned blame for the abhorrent scenes which took place in the immediate aftermath of the Dagestanian’s fourth-round submission victory in the 155lbs title fight.
They have bred this culture of boundary-pushing trash talk, rewarding those who sell their fights through words and neglecting those who do so through their actions.
It’s all about moving the “needle” and by ignoring rankings, abandoning athletic endeavour to instead opt for what makes the most money, the UFC picked their side long ago when the entertainment-or-sport debate emerged.
And whether fans like it or not, this is what the UFC is all about now, the ugly scenes of Saturday a predictable side effect when you celebrate rather than punish “disgusting” episodes.
Indeed, how can you as an organisation glorify obscene actions and then not expect the absolute worst to follow thereafter?
The McGregor Brooklyn bus attack and Nurmagomedov’s jumping out of the cage while his team jump on the divisive Irishman are not one and the same, but they are products of an identical cause.
Criticising one is not to absolve the other, but let’s be absolutely honest here because the fans also play their part in feeding the beast.
There can be absolutely no doubt a rematch will be even bigger with even more fans invested emotionally and financially.
The world was indeed watching on Saturday, and now they’re all talking on Sunday. Regardless of whether the conversation involves people using this an opportunity to virtue signal or not, all publicity is good publicity when you’re in it for the money and not the morality.
Again, this is not to completely absolve those involved of blame. Quite the opposite, it is to spotlight their actions and use it to discuss the wider issue because this is a classic case of cause and effect.
So what are the next steps?
Nurmagomedov should be stripped but likely won’t be given White’s leniency of McGregor in April.
The undefeated and undisputed champion may opt to retire after the biggest pay day of his career, yet there is too much money to be made in a second fight.
The dust will inevitably settle, the dirt dug back up and we’ll all be tuning in to with hopeful eyes to see if any more mud will be spread across the Octagon canvas when these two meet again.
This is after all, what entertainment is about.
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