Strickland, who lost the UFC middleweight title Saturday at UFC 297, was under fire and went viral on social media after going on an anti-LGBTQ rant at Wednesday’s media day. Over the years, White has taken a stance in which he doesn’t police most things said by fighters on the promotion’s roster.
Despite this recent public backlash, White – not condoning or denouncing Strickland’s comments – kept true to his word and said Strickland was baited by the reporter with his question.
“I don’t tell anyone to do anything,” White said at the UFC 297 post-fight press conference. “I don’t try to control any other human beings in any way, shape or form.
“I say it all the time: We’re in the fight business. If you get your feelings hurt that bad, you probably shouldn’t ask the type of questions when you know the answer you’re going to get from Strickland. If you ask him – you know who he is, and if you ask him a certain question … he was baited in that question. It is what it is. It’s the fight business.”
"You ask me some stupid sh*t like that? Go f*ck yourself."
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) January 17, 2024
Later in the news conference, White was asked if he “gives a long leash” to fighters in terms of what they can say. He quickly interrupted, then appeared to speak on behalf of UFC 297 co-main event title fighters Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva.
“I don’t give anyone a leash,” White said. “A leash? Free speech. Control what people say? You’re going to tell people what to believe? I don’t f*cking tell any other human being what to say, what to think. There are no leashes on anyone. It’s ridiculous to say that I give somebody a leash. Free speech, brother. People can say whatever they want and believe whatever they want.
“We had two gay women who fought in the co-main event. They sat on the stage with Sean Strickland (at the press conference). They could give a sh*t what Sean Strickland says or what his beliefs are or what his opinions are.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.