Mailbag: White talks TUF

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Jesse Taylor's drunken behavior during Season 7 of The Ultimate Fighter cost him a spot in the finale against Amir Sadollah. But, it turns out, the ramifications were much greater. UFC president Dana White, who said Tuesday that Taylor will return from his exile to fight C.B. Dollaway on the July 19 card at the Palms in Las Vegas that is airing on Spike, plans to get tough with any fighters in the future who damage the TUF house.

It has become something of a tradition during the filming of the reality series for the fighters to trash the house. Though several fighters said they were indirectly encouraged to do so, White vehemently denied the fighters were ever told how to act in any way. He said repairs to the staircase that was damaged during Season 7 cost nearly $70,000. He said fighters of Season 8 – which completed filming last week and will begin airing in September – were told they'd have to pay for any damage they did.

"Whoever told you we encouraged them to tear up the house is (an expletive) liar," White said. "Nobody ever told them what to do on the show. A lot of guys, they get off the show and they're embarrassed by what they've done. And think about this: I've faced a lot of challenges since we've had the UFC, but I have a kid (Taylor) who pissed his pants on television and now I have to turn him into a star."

White said he used to drink and act rowdy when he was in his early 20s and doesn't want to imagine what he might have done had he been on a television show. But he called the destruction of the house "retarded" and said "there was no sense or purpose to what they did."

White said Taylor enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous and worked hard to rebuild his reputation.

"Without a doubt, the kid deserves another chance," White said. "He made himself look like a fool, and he's aware of that, but everyone deserves another opportunity and we're going to give it to him. He acted like a moron. He's embarrassed by it, which he should be, but what he did doesn't amount to enough to ban him forever. Come on. He was just young and stupid, but at least he seems to have learned from what he did."

Among White's other tidbits of interest on Tuesday:

  • He said he's found "the next Anderson Silva," a lightweight who is competing in Season 8 of TUF at 155 pounds, though he declined to release the fighter's name because it might spoil the season. "I was going off when I saw this guy," White said. "He's 24 and he's destroying people. It's sick how bad ass he is. I'm getting goose bumps talking to you about him."

  • He's planning a special of some sort that will air on July 26, the same night as Elite XC's return date on CBS, though he wouldn't give details.

  • UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta is in Australia, working on company business.

  • He's thinking of leaving a welterweight division in the WEC and moving the WEC's 185-pound and 205-pound fighters to the UFC. With that, let's get on to the reader questions and comments. My responses are in italics.

FILHO IN UFC

If Paulo Filho is able to shake the depression and beat Chael Sonnen again, do you think the UFC will try to recruit him? He's at the top of many people's list of the best 185-pounders, so I would be interested in seeing him fight some of the UFC guys. How do you think he'd fare against the new competition?

Ronan
Toronto

As noted above, the WEC middleweights will soon move to the UFC. But White said of Filho, "He's a great fighter, but he has a lot of personal problems to overcome." When sober, healthy and focused, Filho is a top three middleweight.

MOUTH WATERING MATCHES

UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn said he would like another crack at Georges St. Pierre. Since B.J. is the one who issued the challenge, the fight will be at welterweight, correct? Who do you think might win? And who do you think would win a St. Pierre fight against Anderson Silva? That would be incredible.

Maide Evangelista
Manila, Philippines

Both matches would be tossups, in my opinion. I'd favor Penn slightly against St. Pierre and Silva against Penn by a larger margin. Penn has already proven he can be a major force at 170, but St. Pierre hasn't fought at 185. I think the size advantage would favor Silva.

POOR HEAVYWEIGHTS

It seems to me that the UFC is overhyping its heavyweight division after their recent move to put Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as coaches in the next season of TUF. Though Mir is a former UFC heavyweight champion, he hasn't done much more recently than barely defeat a debuting and inexperienced Brock Lesnar. The fight was over if Brock didn't start hitting him in the back of the head, which allowed Mir to recover and gave a chance to sink in the ankle lock. Then, Nog was definitely losing the Tim Sylvia fight (I thought it was Sylvia's best fight until the end) until he managed to pull up a win out of nowhere. I am not saying these two guys are not premium fighters, but was there really no one else in the UFC heavyweight division to put against Nog? Also, how in the world did they miss out on Fedor again and not re-sign Sylvia or Arlovski? I love the UFC in every other division, but their heavyweight division is lacking and unexciting.

Brandon Feria
San Jose, Calif.

The UFC's heavyweights aren't what they once were. For some reason, the UFC chose to cut Sylvia. It definitely wanted to re-sign Arlovski, who signed with Affliction and will fight on the July 19 pay-per-view against ex-International Fight League star Ben Rothwell. The division does have great promise, though, as the UFC has three of the best young prospects, Cain Velazquez, Shane Carwin and Lesnar, under contract.

DETERRENT

Dana White has made the right decision in not allowing Taylor in the UFC. There needs to be some standard of conduct or you get the NFL, with a litany of violent criminals, gang members and fools. Other sports should adopt similar policies. I know the money in the UFC is not like the NFL, but in the future maybe some kid will say, "Hey, if I get arrested it may screw up my dreams." In the NFL there is no such deterrent.

Andrew D'Onofrio
Asheville, N.C.

Obviously, Taylor is back in the UFC. But I think his situation was handled appropriately. He was drunk, but he did it in the place that he lived and then when he was in public, he had a driver. I'm with you on being tough on those who commit crimes, but that's not what happened here. I think the punishment was correct and White was right to reinstate Taylor.

UFC NOT RESPONSIBLE

Although I do agree with you as far as Taylor’s actions being stupid and scary, I disagree with you holding UFC responsible for his behavior. The guys are young but they are still adults and they make their own decisions. Jesse Taylor made the choice that night to go out and get drunk and behave the way he did. The UFC producers did allow the guys to "trash" the house like every season, but I do not hear about the other guys destroying half the city. Blaming the UFC for an adult Jesse Taylor, in my opinion, would be like blaming the NFL for Pacman Jones' off the field issues. When the athlete is on his own he is responsible for his actions.

Max
Tallahassee, Fla.

Jesse Taylor and Jesse Taylor alone is responsible for his conduct. My point is that the UFC and Spike encouraged the foolish behavior in the house and that's what I called them on. I'm glad to see that they'll no longer allow the fighters to destroy the house.

IMMATURE PUNKS

The behavior of the people on TUF is beyond despicable. It shows these guys as ignorant, immature little punks with absolutely no class whatsoever. It is a horrible example for anyone to watch and only contributes to the delinquency of young males. And Dana White and Spike TV are promoting this to the max. Stupid!

Joe Funaro
Sidney, N.Y.

I am not big on the zany behavior that many fighters have shown. But I think a lot of it is because they're locked in that house for two months with, literally, no access to the outside world. I think they go a little stir crazy. While I find much of the behavior objectionable, I take issue with saying they have no class. I've found the vast majority of TUF alumni to be classy, first-rate men.

TV EXPANSION

What are your thoughts on HDNet and FOX PPV getting involved in covering MMA? Will that change any thing for the UFC? Also, please commend your UFC contacts on giving us Anderson Silva vs. James Irvin for free on Spike, a gesture that further reinforces their commitment, appreciation and respect for the fans. Can boxing offer the same? Not presently, but it's getting better. Thanks for the continuing great coverage of boxing and MMA on Yahoo! Sports.

David Essig
Daytona, Fla.

The more free outlets there are to televise MMA fights, the better. While those who are already MMA fans understand what the sport and the fighters are about, you'd be surprised how many "This is the end of society as we know it," e-mails I receive from fans who clearly don't know the first thing about the sport. As it gets exposed and those types of people realize the fighters are intelligent, educated and respectful, as well as great and well-conditioned athletes, that perception will slowly change.