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Dana White needs to briefly step away from the UFC to raise awareness of domestic violence

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 08: UFC President Dana White is seen on stage during the UFC 282 press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 08, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

UFC President Dana White has apologized for slapping his wife during a New Year’s Eve club party in Mexico. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Dana White’s life was forever changed on the night of December 31, 2022, when he decided to slap his wife, Anne, in the face while the couple were in Mexico celebrating New Year’s Eve.

Of all the good White has done in this world – championing countless charitable causes, creating thousands of jobs, going out of his way to help dozens of needy, sick and down on his luck – he undid much of it. when he chose to slap back after his wife slapped him the first time.

The two words no man would want associated with his name – domestic abuser – will follow him forever. It will be in the countless biographies that will be written about him eventually. He will be taunted on social media for the rest of his days for this. It will be in news articles and Wikipedia and he will lose the respect of many of those who were once fans of his and who looked up to him as he built the UFC into a global sports powerhouse.

He has been married to Anne White for 30 years and has known her for over 40. And even White knows he was wrong.

In a public apology to TMZ on Monday, White accepted responsibility for his actions, which is the least he could do.

“This is one of those situations that are horrible,” he said. “I’m embarrassed.”

He should be ashamed. It is a despicable act. And there’s no excuse for that. The grainy video shows White grabbing his wife’s left wrist as she slaps him with her right hand on the left side of his face. He responds by smacking her with his right.

Domestic violence is a scourge in this world. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people a minute are abused by an intimate partner in the US. Surprisingly, one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe domestic violence. Domestic violence hotlines receive over 20,000 calls on an average day.

Anne White released a statement in which she said the behavior was “out of character” for her husband.

“Dana and I have been married for almost 30 years. control on both sides. We talked about it as a family and apologized to each other. I just hope people respect our privacy for the sake of our kids.”

The question is the circumstances that led to it. White is famous and works and plays at a breakneck pace, rarely leaving any downtime. With him, both at work and at play, it’s go, go, go.

He’s 53 now, not 32, so it seems fair to ask, why is he drunk in a public setting at a nightclub? He has traveled the world, seen so much, done so much and made so many friends. One has to wonder what kind of pressure he feels trying to top what he’s already done, pushing the UFC even further into the mainstream and creating another combat sports league.

For much of his adult life, he’s almost accelerated to build the UFC. There is still more to be done, but he has a large and capable team and it is no longer just a one man job or a one man journey. It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to relax and not feel the need to push anymore.

White made a mistake, and a significant one. He must step away from the UFC for a month or so to not only patch things up with himself and his family, but also find ways to lend his name to domestic violence efforts. White has an aggressive pulpit and when he speaks, people listen. He is followed by 6.1 million people on Twitter and 7.8 million people on Instagram. It can reach many people.

So he should step away briefly to sort out his personal life, reflect on why he slapped his wife in public, and most importantly, come up with a plan to deliver a message about the insidiousness of domestic violence. He doesn’t need to be on the podium right now promoting fights.

Long term, White is critical to the UFC’s success. In the short term, though, there are many who can take his place while White figures out how to right this wrong.

When he made a homophobic slur in 2009 during a rant against a reporter, he not only apologized, but put an action plan in place. Since then, the UFC has donated significant amounts of money to LGBTQ causes. It sits alongside the WNBA as the most gay-friendly sport in the world.

In 2013, in what was the most significant fight in UFC history, White put a lesbian, Liz Carmouche, in the main event. It’s big news in any other sport when an athlete comes out as gay, but it’s common in the UFC because it’s so common.

White doesn’t deserve all the credit for this, but he does deserve some. He helped foster an environment in the UFC that helped remove that stigma.

He can do the same with domestic violence. On Tuesday, US men’s national soccer team coach Gregg Berhalter released a statement on Twitter in which he admitted to kicking his then-girlfriend and future wife, Rosalind, in 1991 when he was 18.

in your tweetBerhalter provided details of the 1991 incident, the couple’s reconciliation seven months later and how it has shaped them in the 31-plus years since.

“I’m sharing this story after 31 years because it’s important to understand that it was an event that shaped me but did not define me. It was a unique and isolated event over three decades ago and a terrible decision made at a bad time by a young man of 18 years. … As a team, we emphasize accountability, honesty and growth. These are just principles that we instill in the team; it’s how I live my life.”

White acknowledged in his statement the mistake he made. The world would be a better place if White could, like Berhalter, find a way not only to get over the mistake, but to help find ways to educate those who commit this crime. It’s a push here and a slap there. Many shrug their shoulders like it’s no big deal. It just doesn’t stop and usually leads to horrendous results.

Nothing White says, or any amount of money he throws at the issue, will completely end it. This is an insidious problem in our culture that, unfortunately, is not going to go away.

But this club incident in Mexico involving White and his wife could make a difference and help reduce the incidence of domestic violence, as well as educate those in abusive relationships that help is readily available.

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