In late May, UFC president Dana White said he needed to see if former UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas was “mentally ready” to step back inside the octagon. On Tuesday, White seemed to forget that Namajunas withdrew from UFC 249, according to her manager, because of two deaths in her family related to the coronavirus.
On “The Schmozone Podcast,” host Dave Schmulenson remarked that sports are an escape from the madness in the world right now. White responded by saying “the entire world has turned into pussies overnight and it’s unbelievable and it drives me crazy. I don’t know what to say, it’s embarrassing.”
The UFC boss has long been lauded in certain circles for his willingness to speak his mind on any topic. There’s little doubt White will find a fair number of supporters for his stance on the state of the world at this moment, but that ignores facts.
As of June 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 103,339 COVID-19 involved deaths in the United States. In late February, that number was 11. Between April 11 and May 9, the number of COVID-19 related deaths was greater than 10,400 per week. That number dropped to 2,548 last week.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. stands at a total of 2,132,321. The number of new cases reported on June 17 was 27,975.
White, who has watched UFC events from cageside without a mask, which seems to run afoul of both the UFC and the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s COVID-19 protocols, has at times been dismissive of the seriousness of the virus. At one point, he said, “I don’t give a shit about the Coronavirus. As far as I’m concerned we are gonna continue to run our business,” before the UFC did cancel several events.
White has also accused the MMA media of trying to sabotage their events, when UFC tried to bypass the government’s coronavirus mandates.
Namajunas isn’t the only UFC fighter affected by COVID-19.
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father and coach, Abdulmanap, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was in critical condition. He suffered a stroke, underwent surgery, and was in a medically induced coma for a while. Abdulmanap, according to a report from Nurmagomedov’s manager, is now improving and has opened his eyes and responded “a little bit.”
White’s comments were incredibly insensitive. The fact that White knows at least one fighter who has lost loved ones to COVID-19 make his remarks even more reprehensible. It will be a surprise if White apologizes for his words.
ESPN, who released a video about how it is dealing with COVID-19 for its Top Rank Boxing broadcasts, had no comment on White’s remarks.
Bloody Elbow also reached out to the UFC for comment. The promotion did not reply before publication.
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