DENVER -- With as fired up as UFC
president Dana White gets when talking about last weekend's Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz boxing match
, you almost wouldn't know that his organization put on some fights of its own that same night.
Following Wednesday's UFC 135
press conference, White ripped into referee Joe Cortez for "destroying" the highly-anticipated bout, but he saved his most virulent criticism for HBO commentator Larry Merchant, who found himself in a bizarre confrontation with Mayweather after the controversial ending.
"It's my big beef with Merchant for years," White said. "These guys get done fighting and he jumps in the ring and just starts saying off-the-wall, weird, rude [expletive] to these guys. Who the hell would want to do an interview with him? It's probably the thing they dread worse than training and cutting weight and everything, is their interview with Larry Merchant. It's ridiculous."
Merchant drew Mayweather's ire in the post-fight interview for asking about the dubious fight-ending punch combo that, while legal, seemed dirty to many. As Mayweather criticized Merchant for what he regarded as a history of bias on the part of the 80-year-old TV commentator, suggesting that HBO should fire him, Merchant retorted
, "I wish I was 50 years younger and I would kick your ass."
It was a lapse in professionalism that apparently didn't help to endear him to White, an avid boxing fan.
"I actually thought that that was very embarrassing for HBO," the UFC president said. "The guy is senile, he's out of his mind. He's up there berating Floyd, but Floyd can't say anything back to you? You've been disrespecting guys your whole career, and guess what, you can go back 60 years, you're not kicking Floyd's ass, okay? Give me a break. And what's Floyd going to do? A 102-year-old guy just said that to him."
For the 35 minutes that White spoke to reporters following the pre-fight press conference inside the Pepsi Center, no subject seemed to hold as much interest for him as the Mayweather-Ortiz bout and its aftermath.
Though he claimed not to have watched the Strikeforce
World Heavyweight Grand Prix event on Showtime the weekend before, Mayweather-Ortiz prompted a lengthy rant from White on all the ways Cortez had erred in his handling of the fight, and how it only proved that "something needs to be done" about the athletic commissions that handle both MMA
and boxing events.
"Realistically, when you look at it, boxing puts on two big fights a year," White said. "Two big fights a year. They [expletive] up one of them. The referee destroyed that fight. He destroyed it. ...That was a multi-, multi-million dollar fight that this one guy destroyed. Because I don't know about you guys, but I was watching the fight, I would have liked to have seen how that really would have ended."
White added that what really scares him is the potential for an athletic commission or a referee to wreak similar havoc on a UFC bout at a juncture as critical for MMA as the Mayweather-Ortiz bout may have been for boxing.
"The last thing that I want to have happen is that, to me, on FOX," White said.
At least White doesn't have to worry about Merchant on any of his broadcasts. From the sound of things, the veteran boxing commentator can rule out any potential future with the UFC.