As the UFC begins negotiations on a new TV deal that will begin in 2019, UFC president Dana White is already seeing some dirty tactics being played.
White reacted to a statement he heard from FOX host Colin Cowherd ahead of UFC 217 less than two weeks ago that he looked like he wished he had gotten out of the mixed martial arts business along with his friends and former UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. The Fertittas sold the company in 2016 for just north of $4 billion.
White erupted in reaction to Cowherd’s claims and said that the veteran radio host had no idea what he was talking about, much less that he’s somehow an authority on the UFC’s business.
“I saw Cowherd comes out and says that I’m burnt out and I want to be on a sailboat with the Fertitta’s and all this (expletive). (Expletive) you, Colin Cowherd,” White shouted during a media scrum in New York via TSN. “You know nothing about me or this business, so keep your (expletive) yap shut.”
White said he believes Cowherd’s statement stems from the fact that the UFC is entering the final year of its television deal with FOX, which means the promotion could possibly switch to a new network in 2019.
When the UFC signed with FOX in 2011, the company dealt with similar fallout from its previous television partners at Spike TV. White said this is no different judging by Cowherd’s sudden change of opinion.
“I’m not going after anybody, but for Cowherd to come out and say the (expletive) that he said, especially for a guy for a long time who has been one of our biggest fans. Now our deal is up with FOX and Cowherd’s talking (expletive) about stuff he has no (expletive) clue what he’s talking about,” White said.
“It’s 100-percent what’s going on. It’s dirty (expletive) business tactics and Cowherd is a guy, I’ve been on his show many times and I’ve known him for a long time, and it’s (expletive) dirty. (Expletive) you.”
White’s comments were made a day after the UFC 217 pre-fight press conference when he responded to a question from the media and said that 2017 would be the UFC’s most successful year in history.
Of course, White’s claims were called into question because the UFC seemingly hasn’t enjoyed a very strong year on pay-per-view thanks to the absence of both Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, the two biggest stars the sport has ever known.
White fired back by saying that no one — Cowherd included — really knows what’s going on behind the scenes at the UFC and trying to say otherwise just isn’t being genuine.
“When people come out and open their (expletive) mouth about (expletive) that they shouldn’t be talking about because they know nothing about it, it’s my favorite thing,” White said.
“Yesterday, it’s not like I was out trying to say [how] the business is doing, that guy asked me a question. How’s life been since the last time you were at Madison Square Garden? I said funny you should ask, we’re going to be No. 1 and No. 3 [in live gate], I want that No. 2 spot, too, and this is the best year in the company’s history, period.
“The (expletive) that gets written, it’s crazy. People who have never built a business, people who know nothing about running a business, people who have never had people who depend on a paycheck from them, all have advice and want to talk about your business when you know absolutely nothing about this business.”