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Steve Cofield

White stands by his decision to lie about Franklin-Liddell

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

By asking probing questions and pushing Dana White on hot button topics, Jim Rome did nice job on "Jim Rome is Burning." He asked White about lying via Twitter to protect to the confidentiality of Season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter." A fiery White didn't hesitate at all, saying the fans simply can't know what happens on the show.

Stories emerged last month that Rich Franklin would face Chuck Liddell after the season was completed instead of his nemesis Tito Ortiz, who was starting off the season as the opposing coach. Rome asked White if he sold the fans a bill of goods.

"We're probably the most honest, open company, in sports" said White. "We let the fans and media know everything."

That wasn't the case when the news broke of a potential new matchup at UFC 115 in Vancouver. White shot down the reports by Sherdog, MMAWeekly and MMAJunkie.

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"When we have a reality show where everything's a secret, you're gonna have to watch it" said White. "Guess what? You can't know and it's not you're privilege to know. And if people are upset with that too bad."

Rome then said it was out of character for White to not be straight shooter.

"True, but I can't. It's a reality show. First of all, SPIKE paid for this show. For me to go out and release this information, it's insane you can't do it. It would be like finding out what happens on 'Survivor' after they film it."

White stuck with his "tough luck" stance.

"The people who feel like they've been lied to, too bad. Get over it. It's a reality show. Oh well."

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Following UFC on Versus 1, White fibbed to our face again in Denver about the issue. I accepted it and said, 'well it's the reality show.' But upon reflecting a bit more, White and the promotion could have avoided a lot of this fan outrage by doing one of two things.

1. Don't comment at all on the initial rumors. There was no need to tweet that the rumors of Franklin sliding into Tito's slot were untrue. Stay quiet and tell everyone to watch show.

2. Even better, why not just come clean about Liddell v. Franklin and work it into the preseason promos and during the early weeks of the show? We were strung along on the "will Kimbo fight again or not" storyline. They couldn't drag out a "what happens to Tito" storyline? Each week you could suggest something happened between the coaches, Tito got bad news from home or a cast member lost it on their coach. Is that fibbing? Sure, but it would've been within the context of the show and more easily accepted.

What was gained by violating the fan's trust and waiting three weeks? The UFC knew it had to announce the real matchup before putting the tickets on sale in Vancouver.

Luke Thomas from Bloody Elbow says White and the UFC lost some face with the fans and media. Even worse it put Liddell and Ortiz, who had to lie as well, in the firing line for fans and the media.

During his conversation with Rome, White also admitted things really got hairy on Apr. 4 when a photo from the show popped up on the internet. It showed giant pictures of Liddell and Franklin at the UFC gym. Franklin was in the spot where Tito was supposed to be. It was another clear sign something was up. White said that it was a construction worker, who was part of the clean up crew, that violated the confidentiality agreement by leaking the photo to the web.

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