UFC 288 Banned Questions: Is Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler in danger?

Here are the questions Bloody Elbow would have asked Dana White after UFC 288 (if we were allowed in the building).

By: Trent Reinsmith | 5 months ago
UFC 288 Banned Questions: Is Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler in danger?
Copyright: Louis Grasse

The UFC only allows some media members or websites who apply for media credentials to work events like UFC 288. Bloody Elbow, for instance, has been unable to count itself as UFC access media for quite a while. Meanwhile, my stretch of being shut out of UFC events as a media member recently passed the three-year mark. These are not complaints, just statements of fact used to introduce a new occasional column for this site.

The goal of the “Banned Questions” column is two-fold. The first is to ask the questions that I cannot ask at these “approved guests only” affairs the UFC stages after its fights. The second is to give the media members who get past the UFC’s velvet rope some ideas on providing their readers, fight fans, and in some cases, the UFC fighters, with more information.

I will also point out media members who did outstanding work following a UFC event in this column.

With that, here is the first “Banned Questions” column. It focuses on the UFC president Dana White’s UFC 288 post-fight press conference. UFC 288 took place on May 6 at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The event streamed on ESPN+ pay-per-view and was headlined by Aljamain Sterling successfully defending his UFC bantamweight title against former two-division UFC champ Henry Cejudo.

Is the hold up on Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler because of USADA?

At the UFC 288 post-fight press conference Dana White was asked, “any movement on when that Conor (McGregor vs. Michael Chandler) fight is going to happen?”

His answer: “We don’t. No.”

If I was there, I would have wanted to know why such a huge match-up (which they are using to sell a season of The Ultimate Fighter) has no date or venue in place. And I would have asked if the delaying in releasing a date for the fight had anything to do with drug testing.

McGregor is still not in the USADA testing pool. White, the UFC, and Jeff Novitzky have still not addressed the question regarding McGregor potentially receiving an “exceptional circumstances” waiver from the UFC to forego USADA’s testing requirements before being booked for a fight.

Asking about McGregor’s USADA status and the potential waiver are questions that need to be addressed. My other questions about this fight would have been, “Is the fight in danger of not happening?”

McGregor is arguably the biggest name in the UFC and MMA, and to let the UFC off the hook regarding his future and one of the biggest potential fights of 2023 was a misstep.

What do you mean that Power Slap had a bigger deal than UFC on SpikeTV?

Dana White was also asked about slap fighting venture after UFC 288. White’s Power Slap promotion failed to stick with TBS after dismal ratings in Season 1, White bragged about the social media metrics of Power Slap and how the deal he signed with Rumble was great for the brand.

“The deal I just cut for ‘Slap’ is bigger than the deal the UFC cut with Spike TV after the first season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’” said White.

He then went on about how the social media metrics showed that ’Slap’ as White referred to his latest venture, as being “…number one in all of sports, and when I say all of sports, if you take the NBA, NHL, NFL, F-1, WWE, and who am I forgetting, and add them all together, their numbers don’t compare to Slap.”

I would have loved to push White on these claims. At the very least, I would have asked White to clear up what he meant by a “bigger deal.”

Bigger is a vague term, especially when comparing a cable TV deal with Spike from 18 years ago to a streaming deal with Rumble in 2023. A lot has changed in those years, and saying “bigger” doesn’t provide any details. Not pressing White on his “bigger” claim lets him off the hook. It also provides Power Slap and Rumble with a nice headline that, in reality, says nothing.

White then promised the social media metrics for “Slap.” According to the UFC president, those numbers, which White stressed were gathered by a third party, would clear up any confusion.

I’m writing this on Wednesday, May 10. That’s six days after UFC 288. Six days after White said he would produce that information. Information Bloody Elbow reached out for after the fight card. White nor the UFC has published that information. If were allowed to go to future UFC press conferences, I’d ask again for those numbers.

This site did a little digging into the number of followers the sports and leagues White mentioned have on their social media accounts. While those numbers don’t provide a complete picture of engagement and views, they at least give some context into the situation, and things do not look great, at least not right now, for Power Slap.

Follow ups on Covington, Dvalishvili and more

Other questions I would have asked Dana White, if BE were allowed to attempt UFC 288, would have all been follow-ups to White’s short and negative answers on a variety of fighters’ futures.

Here’s a sample of some of the questions I would have liked to follow up on:

  • “Do we have any progress on (the UFC welterweight title fight between) Leon (Edwards) and Colby (Covington)?
  • “What’s next for Merab (Dvalishvili)?”
  • “We haven’t had an update on Rose Namajunas and Dustin Poirier in a while. Do you have anything planned for them in the coming months?”

Here are White’s initial answers to each:

  • “No.”
  • “He doesn’t want to fight Aljo (Aljamain Sterling).”
  • “Not off the top of my head, no.”

I would have asked, “what the delay?” when it came to Edwards vs. Covington. “Which side is balking and why?” and “what does the delay mean for Belal Muhammad?”

I may have even asked the dreaded “Would you consider an interim title if things continue to drag on with an agreement?”

The dismissal of Dvalishvili was strange because White himself set up the appropriate follow-up question earlier in the press conference when he said that Sterling’s next title defense would likely come against Sean O’Malley. My questions would have then been. “With Sterling vs. O’Malley likely in Boston later this year, who will you look to match against Dvalishvili in a potential title eliminator?”

Also, on Friday, MMA Junkie posted a story where Dvalishvili said he is interested in facing Cory Sandhagen, which would have been another possible question to throw at White.

Lastly, addressing the question regarding Namajunas and Poirier. Again, a simple “What’s the hold up?” would have been my go-to to draw things out.

Doing it right

At UFC 288 MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn provided an excellent example of how to be ready with a follow-up question. Bohn asked Dana White about a future matchup for Umar Nurmagomedov. Bohn seemed to know what White’s answer would be and immediately came back with a follow-up. Bohn’s preparation allowed White to provide a more detailed explanation and for Bohn to get more detail on how White and the UFC plan to get the up-and-coming bantamweight a fight against a ranked opponent.


There is no reason to kiss ass at a post-fight press conference. The media’s job is not to pump Dana White’s or the UFC’s tires, but more than once, a media member prefaced their question by telling White how great the event was. That’s not the media’s job. That’s what fans do.

Never apologize for asking a question that might draw the ire of White. Sometimes journalists have to ask tough questions. Apologizing for asking that question gives the person being grilled all the power. With the apology hanging in the air, that person, especially if they are a bully like Dana White, knows there won’t be a follow-up. They see the question is half hearted. With that, a media-savvy individual, and White is that, can provide the type of answer that addresses the question just enough for him to move on to the subsequent inquiry.

Still waiting…

Unsurprisingly there are a lot of unanswered questions left in the wake of UFC 288. Here’s a running list of things I’d want to ask White about at future pressers.

The Conor McGregor question about the possibility of a USADA waiver from the UFC is the biggest unanswered question facing the UFC, Dana White, and his fellow UFC executives. That question needs to be thrown to White every time he sits in front of a microphone. Especially since the history of the UFC giving out USADA waivers has not been positive for the promotion.

The other big unanswered question revolves around the UFC’s anti-gambling policy. With MMA coach James Krause and UFC fighter Jeff Molina under investigation for potential gambling-related issues, the UFC published an anti-gambling policy earlier this year.

That policy laid out who could or could not bet on UFC fights when it came to competitors and those close to them. Then, in the aftermath of UFC 287, Sam Hughes said, “I know, my boyfriend told me he put a grand on me. Which, I wish he wouldn’t have told me that. He owes me a very good dinner, I’ll tell you that much.”

That revelation seemed to go against the UFC code of conduct regarding gambling. At the very least, it raised a question the UFC needed to address. Something Bloody Elbow wrote about and asked the UFC for clarification. However, the UFC has remained silent since Hughes spoke about the bet. So, again, this is a question the UFC access media should get clarification on from the promotion.

You might not agree with our opinions about the UFC but you gotta admit we call ‘em like we see ‘em without kissing up or kowtowing to Dana White, or others, for access. Support independent MMA opinions by subscribing to the Bloody Elbow newsletter.

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About the author
Trent Reinsmith
Trent Reinsmith

Trent Reinsmith is a freelance writer based out of Baltimore, MD. He has been covering sports for more than 15 years, with a focus on MMA for most of that time. Trent focuses on the day-to-day business of MMA — both inside and outside the cage — for Bloody Elbow.

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