A tiny role as a homeless guy in a not-so-funny betting skit on the "Fox NFL Sunday" show has created yet another Internet uproar about UFC president Dana White.
In a skit in which comedian Rob Riggle was doing a rather flat impersonation of a pro football tipster, White appeared toward the end as a homeless man in a box. In the skit, Riggle had been bragging about his network of sources and said he'd take information from anyone who could help him make his picks.
The video cuts to White, who said in an odd voice, "Cam Newton is pregnant. Ha ha ha ha!"
The cast on the "Fox NFL Sunday" show laughed and pointed out that it was White and that the UFC has a card airing on Saturday from Key Arena in Seattle. It seemed like a harmless, though not very funny, way to get a free mention of his fight card during a highly watched NFL broadcast.
But then, one of White's nearly 2.4 million Twitter followers, Jason Wozny, chastised him. Wozny, whose handle is @UFCWozny, gave the UFC president a bit of blowback.
Wozny wrote, "Ahh, done in bad taste Dana. Not funny for those who actually live out of a box. Should apologize."
If you know White even remotely well, you knew there would be a response but that it wouldn't be an apology. And, of course, White's response created a firestorm of its own.
He took a shot at Wozny and referred to him with a slang word for coward.
Wozny stuck to his guns and told White he thought the skit was in bad taste. White responded with another insult and urged him to get a sense of humor.
UFC president Dana White (AP)Let's start by saying that Riggle's writing for the skit isn't going to earn him an Emmy nomination for comedic writing. Nor will White be nominated for his, ahem, acting.
But White was hardly trying to poke fun at homeless people or make light of their plight. He was using unconventional, and probably not very effective, means to try to promote his fight. The UFC's most highly watched Fox card to date was its first, on Nov. 12, 2011, when Junior dos Santos knocked out Cain Velasquez to win the heavyweight title.
It's no coincidence that show got by far the highest ratings of any of the four Fox cards to date, given that it was the only one aired during NFL season and that it got a ton of promotional assistance on Fox NFL broadcasts.
White took the opportunity to access the massive NFL audience to pump up his fight.
He's been way in the wrong on things before. He used a slur used to describe homosexuals during an unbelievably over-the-top rant in 2009 against then-Sherdog reporter Loretta Hunt. He later apologized to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and has subsequently said that's the one thing in his career he regrets.
He's also looked the other way as some of his fighters have openly harassed female reporters with lewd and suggestive comments.
But White did nothing wrong here. He certainly didn't offend homeless people, and he wasn't trying to lessen their plight in any way.
Wozny deserves much respect for at least standing up for the downtrodden, though I think he was overcome by a bad case of political correctness.
But Wozny, who identifies himself in his Twitter bio as a TMZ producer, had to know that White wouldn't simply ignore his remark. White likes to be a bully and fans repeatedly push his buttons. White fires back with insults, vulgarities and derogatory comments repeatedly.
There seems to be a bit of grandstanding on Wozny's part, poking the tiger with a stick, in other words, trying to get a response.
The bottom line is that White's appearance was a harmless attempt to promote a fight that in no way attempted to demean homeless people or diminish the problem. Homelessness is an important issue in this country and it needs to be dealt with in a serious manner by our elected representatives.
As far as White-related Internet controversies go, this one is pretty minor and will soon pass. But like so many of the controversies surrounding White, only one thing is certain about this one: It won't be the last.
That is the one thing you can count on.