LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White claims to stand by his words that “you never bounce back from putting your hands on a woman” but also indicates no repercussions, outside of a damaged reputation, will come his way after he was caught on camera slapping his wife in Mexico on New Year’s Eve.
An elevated media presence was felt Wednesday at the UFC Apex ahead of the promotion’s first event of the year, as White took the stage for a news conference. It was the first time White spoke publicly on the matter since an initial report of the incident by TMZ included a brief interview.
“What should the repercussions be? You tell me,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie. “I take 30 days off? How does that hurt me? I told you guys when we were going through COVID, COVID could last 10 years. I could sit it out. It’s much like COVID actually. Me leaving hurts the company, hurts my employees, hurts the fighters. It doesn’t hurt me. I could’ve left in 2016. You know what I mean? I don’t know. Do I need to reflect? No, I don’t need to reflect. The next morning when I woke up (I reflected). I’ve been against this. I’ve owned this. I’m telling you that I’m wrong.
“But listen, we’ve had plenty of discussions internally, with (Endeavor CEO) Ari (Emanuel), with ESPN. Nobody is happy. Nobody is happy about this. Neither am I. But it happened, and I have to deal with it. What is my punishment? Here’s my punishment: I have to walk around for however long I live – Is it 10.4 years, or is another 25 years? – and this is how I’m labeled now. My other punishment is I’m sure a lot of people, whether it be media, fighters, friends, acquaintances, who had respect for me, might not have respect for me now.”
Video of the incident showed White and his wife, Anne, at a nightclub for a New Year’s Eve celebration. The footage shows White put his hands on Anne’s wrists during an argument. Moments later, Anne slapped White, who retaliated with two slaps of his own and a shove to the ground.
Since the incident, White has a received a surprising amount of support – by his own admission – on social media from fans and UFC fighters, who have stated his wife slapped first.
However, White shot down those perspectives.
“There’s only one side of this,” White said. “It’s my side. There’s never a reason or an excuse for what happened on New Year’s Eve to ever happen – period. I’m 53. I’ll be 54 this summer. I’ve never done it. I’ve never put my hands on a woman in my life, other than my sister when we used to try to kill each other when we were little. Other than that, this is the first time it’s ever happened, and I guarantee you it’ll never happen again. Nobody should be defending me. There aren’t two sides to the story. There’s only my side.”
Daniel Cormier says 'no debate' Dana White wrong to slap wife, calls out UFC fighters who defend him
California senators urge Endeavor to remove Dana White as UFC president: 'Your continued silence speaks volumes'
'He's gone overboard': 2011 interview with Dana White's mother raises questions about past domestic abuse
If Dana White isn't severely punished for slapping his wife, what are we even doing? | Opinion
Although White mentioned internal discussions with Ari Emmanuel, CEO of UFC parent company Endeavor, as well as UFC broadcast partner ESPN, neither of those companies had issued a public statement on the incident as of Wednesday afternoon.
White went on to reiterate that the physical altercation with his wife was the first of its kind. He said his children were upset by the incident but that he and his wife have figured things out.
When asked if he or the UFC would be doing anything to benefit domestic violence causes, White said there was plenty of awareness raised by the incident itself. He did not offer a clear answer on how this will impact domestic violence issues with UFC athletes going forward.
“Hopefully everybody has seen what’s going on with me, and hopefully this never happens,” White said. “But at the end of the day, we’re all human beings. We all make mistakes. All you can do is try to recover from the mistakes that you make in life. Yeah, I don’t know. I’m sure it’ll be on a case-by-case basis. We have a lot of people around here that make a lot of mistakes. I’m one of them.”