Here is the latest in Bloody Elbow’s ongoing series, where we point out where the UFC access media fell short of pressing UFC brass, usually UFC president Dana White at a press conference. This week’s edition looks at some topics that deserved deeper inquiries during White’s recent post-fight press conference following Saturday’s UFC Vegas 74 fight card, which was headlined by a flyweight contest between Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi.
Bloody Elbow is not among the hand-selected media who are permitted to attend UFC events and ask questions of the UFC executives following those fight cards. So “Banned Questions” serves as our way to ask those questions and maybe inspire the media who get to work UFC events to ask more profound and thoughtful questions.
What’s the difference between Brandon Royval and Colby Covington?
One of the first questions White fielded was if Brandon Royval, who is the No. 4 fighter in the official UFC flyweight rankings and has said he is serving as the backup fighter for the UFC 290 fight between UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and No. 2 ranked Alexandre Pantoja, will get the shot at the winner of that fight.
“There’s no guarantees that anybody’s next,” said White. “There’s a lot of things that are factored into who’s next… The long-winded answer is no.”
White’s reply seems fine, but it ignores that just a few months ago, he guaranteed another fighter the next title shot after that competitor served as a backup for a title fight.
When asked if Colby Covington would get the next shot at UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards, White said at the UFC 286 post-fight press conference in March, “I don’t know when we’ll do it, but that’s the fight that makes sense,” White said at a post-fight news conference at the UFC 286 post-fight press conference in March. “Colby came here and cut weight and did everything to be here for this fight. He deserves the fight, not to mention he’s the second or third best guy in the world.”
The obvious follow-up on Saturday would have been to ask White what makes Covington, who hasn’t fought in 15 months and is coming off a win over the then No. 6 ranked UFC welterweight Jorge Masvidal, worthy of a guaranteed title fight over Royval, who has fought twice since Covington’s most recent bout and is coming off two first-round stoppage wins over Matt Schnell, who is the No. 8 ranked UFC flyweight and Matheus Nicolau, who checks in at No. 5?
Ask Dana White the right question about Conor McGregor, USADA and Michael Chandler
“You guys don’t know f–king this much,” White said while holding his fingers close together, “of what goes on behind the scenes and how hard it is to put all these fights together. When you look at what (UFC matchmakers) Sean (Shelby) and Mick (Maynard) have done this last week to keep some of these guys in a fight, like Jim Miller, and bring in savages from Tajikistan on short notice. This is a rough business to keep your fight cards together and pull this stuff off, so what the f-ck was your question?”
White continued, “First of all, Conor called me a couple days ago and loved the first episode of ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ and saying how happy he was to be a part of it. And I think being here and part of the environment and everything else, he felt it again and felt like he wants to get back to fight. The one thing you guys have to understand is this kid has so much money. It’s like Khabib (Nurmagomedov) now. These guys got sh-tloads of money, and it’s hard to reel these guys in and get them to get in and fight.”
White’s word salad never directly addressed the issue of the fight not being booked. Everyone knows the holdup is that McGregor is not in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) testing pool. Until McGregor is in that pool and available for testing for six months, he is ineligible to compete, barring an “exceptional circumstances” waiver from the UFC.
White and the UFC need to address whether McGregor has notified the UFC, as per the USADA requirements, that he is ready to return to the testing pool. If he has, the next question becomes, what’s the delay in getting him tested?
On the other hand, if McGregor has not notified the UFC, and that’s the only “paperwork” he has to do to get back in the USADA testing pool, what’s the issue there?
No one should ask White or the UFC about any holdup in booking McGregor vs. Chandler because we know the trouble. The only questions to be asked are what’s keeping McGregor from being tested and whether the UFC will give him a waiver to avoid the six-month testing requirement that is part of the UFC’s drug testing policy.
What responsibility does the UFC have in booking a reportedly concussed fighter?
Jared Gordon was booked on short notice to face Jim Miller at UFC Vegas 74. The UFC pulled Gordon from the event after he revealed that he had sustained a concussion during his UFC Vegas 71 bout opposite Bobby Green.
“I had a minor concussion, but I got over the symptoms fairly quickly,” Gordon said days before the event. “I did everything I could to recover; supplements, I was in a hyperbaric chamber for the last six weeks. At this point my career, I was like—sometimes you gotta risk it a little bit, right, to get what you want? I think a little bit of risk is not too bad. I’m risking it anyways going in there, even if I didn’t have that outcome six weeks ago. So, I’m like, ‘Let’s do it.’
The UFC did the right thing in pulling Gordon from the event. However, White handled the question about Gordon being removed from the event all wrong, as did the media attending the UFC Vegas 74 post-fight press conference.
“When you come in here on press day, and you announce that you had a concussion six weeks ago, and you healed yourself from the concussion, you’re done,” said White. “We’re not going to let you fight with a [concussion]; yeah, we pulled them because he should have told us that six weeks ago.”
“You know what I mean?” White continued. “You should have shown at least the company and your opponent some respect, and at least did that six weeks ago. You’re not an f—king doctor. You didn’t cure yourself from a concussion.
“So what did he do? Did he get a concussion? Was he self-diagnosed? Or did he go to a doctor, and did a doctor diagnose him with a concussion? You have to be honest when you get injuries. And of course, the minute we hear about it- no fight is worth keeping on if it’s going to risk somebody’s health, safety, longevity, whatever it might be, we will pull you out in 2.5 seconds.”
Another problem is that Green knocked out Gordon, something the UFC matchmakers should have known and addressed before offering Gordon the fight.
White was given the opportunity to place some blame on the UFC matchmakers, when a media member asked if they were at fault for booking Gordon, and he would have been correct in doing so. The UFC boss avoided that question.
“We spend the money to make sure that we have healthy guys competing, you know, but when a guy comes in and starts saying, you know, we’ve dealt with this in the past. Guys have come in media week and said crazy sh-t about what happened in their training camp and stuff like that, and we yank them. That’s absolutely consistent with what we’ve always done,” White concluded.
One of the most significant issues the media should have addressed on Saturday is why the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) no longer publishes fighter medical suspensions. Another question White could have fielded is, what is the UFC protocol for a fighter who suffered a knockout in a previous bout? White could have also been asked if the UFC has established a baseline for the brain health of its fighters so the promotion knows when an athlete is okay to return to action.
The bottom line is that it’s an MMA journalist’s job to highlight the shortcomings of fight promotions and athletic commissions. Unfortunately, the MMA media doesn’t do a good job on that front. White and the UFC should be pressed on what went wrong in booking Gordon, as should the NSAC. If the promotion and the athletic commission are not held to task, the likelihood is high that this exact scenario will happen again.
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.
Not that long ago, missing weight disqualified fighters from picking up any UFC Fight Night bonus awards. However, White and the UFC have awarded Bryan Battle and Geoff Neal $50,000 bonuses after they missed weight. That seems unfair to those who he UFC excluded from bonuses in the past.
We’re still waiting on White to deliver on the promise that he would provide the metrics that showed that Power Slap is “…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.”
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