Dana White addressed the media Wednesday, answering questions publicly for the first time since he was caught on camera slapping his wife multiple times on New Year’s Eve.
White, 53, made no excuses for his actions, but said there will be no repercussions in his role as UFC president, other than the label he will have to carry for the rest of his life.
“What should the repercussions be? You tell me,” White said at the UFC Vegas 67 press day. “Shall I take 30 days off? How does that hurt? I told them when we were going through COVID, COVID could last 10 years, I could stay out, and you know what I mean? What would be the problem? It’s a lot like COVID, actually. That I leave hurts the company, it hurts my employees, it hurts the fighters. It doesn’t hurt. I could have left in 2016. I don’t know. Do I need to reflect? No, I don’t need to reflect. The next morning when I woke up, you know what I mean? I have been against this. I have owned this. I tell you I’m wrong.
“But listen, we’ve had a lot of discussions internally, with Ari [Emanuel], ESPN. Nobody is happy. Nobody is happy with this. Neither do I. But it happened, and I have to deal with it. And what is my punishment? Here’s my punishment: I have to walk for as long as I live, be it 10.4 years or another 25 years, and that’s how I’m labeled now. My other punishment is that, I am sure that many people, whether they are media, fighters, friends, acquaintances, who had respect for me, may not have respect for me now.
“There are a lot of things I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life that are much more punishing than that, I’m taking a 30-day break.” [or a] 60 days absent? That’s not a punishment for me. The punishment is that I did it, and now I have to deal with it.”
Images of the altercation between White and his wife, Anne, were published by TMZ more than a week ago. In the video, which was captured at a club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on New Year’s Eve, White can be seen grabbing Anne’s wrist, prompting her to slap him. White responds by slapping her face twice before others nearby jump into the argument and the clip ends.
In an interview with TMZ that accompanied the initial release of the video, White apologized for his actions, however, thus far, the UFC and its parent company Endeavor have refused to comment on White’s role in the incident. Several media critics have called for White to face professional sanctions or resign; the California Legislative Women’s Caucus called for White to be removed as UFC president.
On Wednesday, White reiterated his regret and pushed back against fans and wrestlers who defended his action.
“Obviously it was a horrible personal experience and there are no excuses for it,” White said. “It is something that I will have to deal with and live with for the rest of my life. And one thing that I do want to clarify with this that I did not talk about on TMZ, because I did not expect it and I did not expect it, is the people who are defending me. There is never an excuse. I’m sure you guys have read some of the same stuff I’ve seen. There is no defense for this, and people shouldn’t defend me for this, no matter what. All the criticism I have received this week is 100 percent justified and I will receive it in the future.
“Everyone has an opinion on this, and they are right to have their own opinions. I was also very stubborn about this, and still am. It’s crazy that I’m sitting here even having this conversation with you.”
“Nobody knows you better than your kids,” White added. “The eldest is almost 22 years old. So for 22 years, he has grown up in a house with me, my wife and the rest of our family. They hear and see everything. They know everything. So regardless of what perceptions people may have about you, no one knows that better than your kids, and as long as my kids know exactly who I am. They know exactly who their mother is. And that is what is important to us. This is a personal family matter that played out in public, and our biggest focus was our children. Do you want to talk about people being disappointed? Who will be more disappointed than your children? And that’s what we’ve really been focusing on.”
White noted how “ironic” it was that the incident occurred so close to the launch of his next venture, Dana White’s Power Slap League. The new slap league’s television debut on TBS has been postponed for a week from January 11 to January 18, however, all indications are that the promotion will continue to televise its first season as scheduled.
White stated that his actions on New Year’s Eve were the first time he had hit a woman, aside from childhood fights with his sister, responding to a 2014 interview in which he said: “There’s a thing about the that you never recover, and that is laying hands on a woman”
“Dont do it. You don’t recover from this. You never recover from this,” White said Wednesday. “For the rest of my life, like I said, for as long as it is, people will label me like that. I did it. That is. I did it. …You don’t recover from that. You wake up every day and try to be better than you were yesterday, and you make sure that never happens again. Whatever steps you would have to take to make sure you are never in that situation and that it never happens again, that’s what I need to do. And it is a fact. There are a couple of things in life that you don’t recover from, and this is one of them. It is a fact.”
White said he has not contacted any UFC fighters regarding his actions and incidents of domestic violence for UFC athletes will still be handled on a case-by-case basis moving forward.
When asked if he would have done anything differently regarding the incident and the UFC’s response, White was direct in his response.
“I would have stayed home on New Year’s Eve,” White said. “If I could go back and change something, I would have stayed home on New Year’s Eve.”
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