The UFC access media tends to go easy on UFC president Dana White. As a result, only a few follow-up questions are posed to the UFC boss when he sits at the dais following UFC events. There are even fewer probing questions about the promotion and its business doing these Q&A sessions. One reason for this is that the UFC has, over the years, limited which outlets and media members can attend the events and pose questions to White and other UFC brass.
One concept behind this ongoing column is to present questions that Bloody Elbow would ask if we were among the media allowed to attend UFC events. The second idea behind “Banned Questions” is to give the media members who are tapped to attend UFC events some ideas on providing their readers, fight fans, and in some cases, the UFC fighters, with more information.
With that, here are the banned questions from UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Almeida and the list of questions the UFC still has not answered.
Did Conor McGregor take the TUF gig to promote his Netflix special?
During the recent post-fight press conference for the UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Almeida fight card, White was asked about the potential matchup between Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler. In his reply, the UFC boss acknowledged the frequency he’s been hearing that exact inquiry.
“I don’t know, I don’t know.” White said. “That’s the most-asked question I’m getting right now. Obviously, the season of The Ultimate Fighter airs soon, and then during that season, we will be working very hard to put that fight together.”
Much like at the UFC 288 post-fight press conference, the media on-site in Charlotte failed to ask a single follow-up question on the subject of McGregor vs. Chandler and the potential of McGregor getting back in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool at some point. I covered those topics in the last “Banned Questions” column, so I won’t revisit those here. However, I will say is that perhaps the media needs to stop asking White for updates and start asking him about what, or who, is delaying the fight being booked.
Another question White could be asked is if McGregor potentially used the TUF gig to get, and keep his name in the press, at the same time his Netflix special is set to begin streaming.
McGregor and his business team know how to make money off his name and image. With that, I don’t think I’m being too cynical to imagine the Irish fighter would see the opportunity to appear on a weekly ESPN show while his documentary series streams on Netflix as a nice way to promote that streaming doc.
What’s changed with UFC Fight Night bonuses?
For years, the UFC refused to allow a fighter who missed weight to be eligible for a fight-night bonus. In fact, there have been times when after a UFC fighter missed weight and put on a “Fight of the Night” bonus-worthy performance, that the fighter who made weight received both shares of the bonus. One example of this was UFC 225 when Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero won “Fight of the Night” after Romero came in heavy, and Whittaker pocketed $100,000.
However, the promotion’s stance on that subject has seemed to soften. At UFC 285, White awarded Geoff Neal his $50,000 share of the “Fight of the Night” bonus despite Neal coming in at 175 pounds for his welterweight scrap against Shavkat Rakhmonov.
“When you think about all the things that we love as fight fans, it doesn’t get any better than that. That’s why I’m paying (Neal). This kid didn’t make weight, and it’s a rule. It’s a law. You are a professional. If you don’t show up here and you don’t make weight, you don’t get a bonus, period. And I don’t think we’ve ever cracked on that,” White said that night.
“After that fight, I was like, ‘I don’t give a shit if he made weight or not, man. We’re paying that dude 50 grand. That was incredible, both guys had incredible heart, and you just couldn’t watch a better fight than that. It was awesome, and I love that shit.”
On Saturday, White again broke the UFC “law,” awarding Bryan Battle a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus for his 14-second knockout win over Gabe Green. Battle checked in at 173 pounds for the welterweight scrap.
The obvious question White needs to be asked, is, what’s changed? I understand the “no bonus” rule is meant to encourage fighters to make weight, but if that rule is off the table, where’s the deterrent for fighters who are having tough weight cuts to keep trying to hit the contracted mark? Sure, there’s the commission rules that punish a fighter who misses weight with a 20 to 30 percent fine of their purse if they miss weight, but if that fighter is on a $12,000 contract, well, a $50,000 bonus is much bigger than a $3,600 fine.
There’s also the fact that the arbitrary changing of the “law” leaves fighters who missed out on a bonus because they missed weight scratching their heads. In that vein, White should also be asked if this change is a “new law” or will the opportunity to win a bonus for those who weighed in heavy be subject to how White is feeling that night. Which, again, goes toward the point that no one knows what it takes to win a UFC bonus.
These questions are still waiting for answers from White and the UFC.
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.
Another 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.
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