Mailbag: Brown goes where the fights are

The fight game needs more guys like Mike Brown. The World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion will go into the backyard of his challenger to make his next title defense, when he meets popular Urijah Faber on June 6 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif., in WEC 41.

Brown, who won the title by stopping Faber in the first round in Hollywood, Fla., on Nov. 5, never had one hesitation to agree to meet Faber in Sacramento, where Faber is immensely popular and he’ll likely have a sellout crowd backing him.

“Part of being a professional and part of being a champion is fighting the best guys wherever they tell you you have to fight them,” Brown said. “Urijah fought me in my hometown in the first place, so it’s only fair. I fought (Leonard) Garcia in his hometown, too, so this will be two in a row in the other guy’s home, but it doesn’t really matter. You still have to go in and fight the fight.”

Brown hasn’t gotten the bump one might have expected from beating a highly ranked fighter like Faber. Few, other than those in the sport, gave him much of a chance to win the first time, and there are still many who expect Faber to simply right the wrong and reclaim the title.

It bothered him a bit at first, until he thought about it more carefully.

“There are some people who are writing me off and who didn’t give me a chance the first time and don’t understand what I’m capable of doing,” Brown said. “That wasn’t the hard-core fans, though. It was the casual fan who just sees the sport occasionally. The people who follow the sport know what I’m about.”

The sport is too unpredictable, he said, for anyone to say one fighter has no chance to beat another, when the conversation is about world-class fighters.

Brown said that even top-ranked Anderson Silva, the UFC’s middleweight champion, will lose some day, though it doesn’t mean he was overrated or is losing it.

“Anderson has been going out and crushing everyone in about two minutes, but that’s not always going to happen,” Brown said. “If he gets beaten, you’ll hear people saying, ‘Oh, he’s overrated,’ or ‘He wasn’t that good in the first place.’ I think what people don’t understand is that in this sport, nobody is untouchable or unbeatable. There are too many variables and it’s too crazy. Too much can happen.”

It only happens, though, when the best fights the best. And that’s why fans should appreciate guys like Mike Brown who always say yes and are eager to fight the best fighters who can be found.

And with that, let’s get on to the reader mailbag. This week, all the questions and comments deal with UFC president Dana White’s comments on a video blog last week in a rant directed at Sherdog.com reporter Loretta Hunt, as well as my response to it. My answers, as always, are in italics.


NOT WIDELY OFFENSIVE

I have a comment on your article in which you call Dana White’s comments offensive and say that they hurt the UFC. I believe the only people who should be offended by the comments are Ms. Hunt, who I feel deserved everything she got, and the gay community. I feel that it was just that he apologized to them. However, I feel women need no apology for what he said. Any woman who gets offended by him calling someone else a bitch is a hypocrite, as I guarantee you that they have each called someone a bitch before in their lives. Secondly, I’d like to comment on how much it hurt the company. As I said, no women should be offended by his remarks, with the exception of Ms. Hunt. As for the amount of gay viewers, I’d like to say it is rather low. Which leaves the rest of the large UFC population, such as myself, who think that Ms. Hunt not only deserved it, but also that it was funny and entertaining, only making us want to watch UFC more. Dana White’s antics such as this can never hurt the UFC because as I stated, most people who watch it love that side of Dana. Thanks for reading this and I would love to hear a rebuttal from you.

Dan V.

Dan, I was not personally offended by what he said. Nor was I offended when President Obama made the quip about the Special Olympics when he was talking about his poor bowling. I understand the context. However, a lot of people were upset by what Dana said and by what President Obama said. President Obama was trying to joke about himself in a self-deprecating manner and he used a phrase that every one of us has used at one time or another. I guarantee he meant neither harm nor disrespect, but there were many people outraged by it. Similarly, I know Dana well enough to know he meant no offense to women, gays or mentally handicapped people. As for whether it hurts the UFC, it’s not so much whether it hurts the company with the fans; the point is whether it hurts them with sponsors and with politicians like those in New York, who are considering whether to sanction MMA.


OFFENSIVE TO ALL

I just want to clarify one point you made about Dana White’s offensive comments. You wrote, “In one two-plus minute rant, White undid much of the good he’s done … by offending gays, women and mentally handicapped people.” I’d just like to note that I am a straight male and not mentally handicapped and I was offended by those comments. You don’t need to be the target of a slur to find it offensive and reprehensible.

Andy W.
Rockville, Md.

A lot of people were offended, Andy. I got slightly more who say they weren’t bothered by what Dana said than those who said they were – maybe 55-45 – but the ones who said they weren’t offended were far more vitriolic in their comments than those who weren’t. Thanks for writing.


WHITE’S FREEDOM OF SPEECH

I have to admit, Kevin, that for the most part, you are usually right on the money in most of your columns, but I think you are a bit off the mark with your opinion of Dana White in your column “White’s unfortunate words hurt UFC.” Everyone who is a fan of the UFC knows that Dana is very opinionated, and has a knack for placing the “f-bomb” in sentences where most of us would not tend to slide one in. With that being said, I think Dana had a legitimate complaint about the article written by Sherdog.com columnist Loretta Hunt. Hunt, in my opinion, was definitely on the attack against the heads of the UFC, mainly White, and in my opinion wrote the article with the sole purpose of trying to make White and company look like tyrants, who are “slave drivers” instead of employers. Loretta and other journalists need to understand that not everyone in the public eye is going to just let them say whatever they want without any backlash. Sure you can write your opinion, but Dana has the right to his freedom of speech and opinion as well. Though Dana White used some comments some feel were offensive, he surely has no need to apologize for what he said any more than Hunt needs to for her opinionated article. People tend to forget, we have freedom of speech, not freedom from the right not to be offended. So people need to stop asking Dana White to apologize for his opinions and the profane way that he delivered it.

Jordan R.
Texarkana, Texas

Jordan, you make an excellent point when you talk about us being guaranteed the right of freedom of speech but not being guaranteed a right to not be offended. I agree with that. My argument with Dana is that not only as the head of a major company, but also as the titular and de facto head of an entire sport, his words carry significant impact. And I don’t believe it’s wise to offend large cross sections of people when you’re in the position he’s in. I get some readers who e-mail who are so angry, they tell me they hope I die. Now, as a columnist, you want to draw reaction from your readers, but that seems a bit extreme. These are just fights we’re talking about here. But I don’t get angry or begrudge anyone the right to express their opinion just because they’re critical of me in private conversations. But a public figure in a public situation is different, in my view.


GET OVER IT, (EXPLETIVE)

That’s the way Dana White talks. He needs to get his point across. If your virgin ears can’t hang, then stick to golf. Everyone says bad words, so stop acting like (an expletive).

James
Los Angeles

Which way to the golf course, James?


DANA WAS WRONG, BUT SHOULD RETAIN HIS FIRE

Thanks very much for the balanced reporting on Dana White’s rant about Loretta Hunt. I would agree that an apology and some form of compensation are in order. I also believe that the UFC has almost single-handedly raised the profile of MMA to the masses and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility and a requirement to be professional. It sounds like Dana’s hotheadedness got the better of him and the damage has been done. As you indicate, some good can still come from this unfortunate event. All that said, Dana’s passion and fire has to stay in place. I had the fortunate opportunity to meet Dana briefly in Cincinnati in October 2007 and found him to be quite approachable and very proud of the UFC product. He has a lot to be proud of and shouldn’t damage it by these kinds of actions.

Jacques W.
Oakville, Ontario

There is no single individual who has done more in the last decade to raise the profile of mixed martial arts than Dana White. There are still many hurdles to overcome, though, and that’s why I insist he has to be a little more circumspect in his public comments. I don’t think he’d be effective if he changed and spoke like a librarian, that’s for certain.


HE MEANT NO HARM

Why is it when someone says “retarded,” everyone gets up in arms? That term is used as slang and really has nothing to do with Special Olympics and the such. It’s a kids’ comment, one that has no meaning anymore. With all that is going on in the world, saying something is retarded isn’t the next train wreck. Find something else to write about, like sports, not your bleeding heart.

Dennis
State College, Pa.

There is a word that begins with ‘N’ that no one uses because it offends an entire race. While I agree White wasn’t trying to bash an entire class of people, there are plenty of words he could choose that would not offend so many. It’s no more than that.

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    Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
    Updated Tuesday, Apr 7, 2009