An Open Letter to Dana White

By Josh Gross Jul 20, 2007
Dear Dana,

We have a problem.

Not sure if you recall, but I broached the subject of steroids with you way back when, well before we faced the reality that mixed martial artists are the Robert Downey Jr.'s of the sporting world.

You said drug testing of any kind wasn't your responsibility; it was up to the state regulators.

OK, well, that's fine I guess, as long as you're diligent in promoting your product in locales that independently test for both so-called performance-enhancers and drugs of abuse. But then again, it's not really good enough, is it? There is a lot more MMA out there than what's being promoted by Zuffa, right?

Either way, you went to Texas several months ago and it turned out they don't test. Neither does any regulatory body in the UK, which you've gone to twice and are returning again in September.

(Oops, the UFC tested guys in Belfast. What were those results? Don't quite remember seeing ‘em anywhere.)

It seems, from a distance mind you, that you're passing the buck, which is puzzling considering the control you exert over everything else that has to do with the UFC brand.

I know you said the "UFC fully supports the commission's efforts and we will continue to take the measures that keep this sport clean and keep the athletes safe." At first glance, that seems like the status quo. And if I understand correctly, when it comes to making sure your athletes aren't defrauding the public and holding hostage the integrity of this still fledgling sport, you want to leave that to someone else.

You don't let anyone refill toilet paper in the bathroom stalls of your Las Vegas offices without signing off first.

What's different here Dana?

Maybe the pending perception battle doesn't bother you so much. I mean, after experiencing the joy of spending millions of dollars to change how most Americans view the UFC and MMA, you've got to want to do that again, I'm sure.

The fact that fighters can't stop themselves from taking a bong rip before their Doritos-caked hands jab a needle into their ass … that isn't a call to arms?

I'm not saying this is your fault. That dishonor clearly resides with fighters that place the integrity of the sport on the line every time they step in a cage or ring.

However, UFC is the major stakeholder in MMA and as such, you need to do something. If not, be prepared to sit before congress and answer the questions of an angry Senator who possesses a large vocabulary and sharp tongue. There are discussions that it might happen with pro-wrestling. Why MMA would be any different, I don't know.

I've heard you mention a potential UFC-sponsored seminar designed to educate fighters. But in what? They don't know commissions -- well not in Texas -- are all over this stuff? Sure … education will definitely fix the problem, but only if you believe the majority of these tests are false positives from over-the-counter supplements. (And knowing what happened to Nathan Marquardt (Pictures), you always have to be a bit suspicious -- see what screwing up will do to the way you're viewed.)

Really, you could have much more influence as a difference maker doing something you excel at: putting square pegs in round holes.

Being a f---ing fighter, Dana, isn't just about wearing Afflication t-shirts and brawling in the cage. It's about what you do in the gym; what you do on the street; how you conduct yourself as a professional.

Had Renato Sobral (Pictures) been a fullback in the NFL, he would likely face suspension and the prospect of adding his name to a really bad book after being arrested last week. Instead, he's fighting on Aug. 25 with seemingly no questions asked.

Why aren't you holding your athletes accountable? (Again, you're not the only one. EliteXC [they're another promoter, Dana] did everything it could to get Charles Bennett (Pictures) out of jail so he could fight.)

Unfortunately, it seems for every Dan Henderson (Pictures) there are 10 guys on the opposite end of the spectrum.

This is about more than cheaters and a fair playing field. This is about the truth of your product, and by pretty obvious extension, the sport. You promoted a lightweight title fight in which both guys tested positive for steroids. One said he did it; the other appears to be appealing.

Well, I'm appealing to you here.

You like to recall the tale of how you came into MMA and saved everyone. It was your money, no one else's. It was your work, no one else's. It was your guts. Your blood.

So, then, is it not your responsibility to lift this current carnival of a sport onto your shoulders and carry it to a place where we can actually discuss Sean Sherk (Pictures) versus B.J. Penn (Pictures) instead of The Muscle Shark's nandrolone levels?

With all that's on the line, for you not to recognize that the UFC needs to be the industry leader and aggressively go about stamping out drugs in MMA boggles the mind.

Let me offer a suggestion if I can be so bold.

I know your company propagated the message that Zuffa changed MMA by bringing in new rules that cleaned up the sport. (Pay no attention to the fact that the SEG-era UFC promoted a regulated show in New Jersey when you still were tasked with getting sponsors for Tito Ortiz (Pictures)'s shorts.)

Here's an opportunity to actually do something you can rightfully take credit for:

Dana, clean up mixed martial arts.

Josh Gross
Executive Editor - Sherdog.com
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